The Great Fire of Edinburgh

The Auld Toun Blog explores Edinburgh’s stories and gives updates about our latest news.

You’ve heard about the Great Fire of London (1666), maybe even the Great Fire of Glasgow (1652). But Edinburgh has its own sad tale: The Great Fire of Edinburgh in 1824 ravaged part of the Old Town for five days.

Edinburgh had only recently created its own Fire Brigade, the first municipal one in the world. The fire broke out in the evening of the 15th of November in a part of the Royal Mile called the High Street, and spread to four tenements. A second stage of the fire moved to the Cowgate and narrowly missed St Giles, thanks to the efforts of the Fire Brigade, who hadn’t even had training yet. They also received contradictory information from public officials which led to the fire moving further along the south of the Royal Mile.

After five days, 10 people had died and 400 people had lost their homes.

A law was passed that the city’s firemaster was the only person to have control over the procedures during an emergency.

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