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Great Fire of London: Celebrating the 350th anniversary and the implications it had on the construction industry

Last Friday marked 350 years since the Great Fire of London began, and in order to commemorate the events, a blockbuster exhibition and a six-day arts festival was set up across the city to mark the event that changed the capital forever

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A massive wooden replica of 17th-century London has been torched on the River Thames to mark the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, which paved the way for the building of the modern city. Onlookers crowded along the river to watch as the 120-metre-long (394ft) wooden model was set alight.

An estimated 70,000 of the 80,000 residents were left homeless by the disaster. By the time the fire was extinguished, a total of 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches and Saint Paul’s Cathedral had been destroyed.

This singular event is often considered to be the genesis of modern building regulations. The risk of fire was well known before 1666 and steps had already been taken to reduce its impact. What can be said is that the Great Fire was a wake-up call and prompted the first large scale adoption of regulated building work. That the fire of 1666 remains the Great Fire is testament to the fact that the building regulations work and have adapted to the changing use of the City and advances in construction.

Artichoke director Helen Marriage, who has been working on the project for two years, has immersed herself in the history of the fire. “It was a transformational moment for London and our world city came out of the disaster,” she says. “The old St Paul’s burned down and Sir Christopher Wren proposed his radical building as a replacement. The insurance industry was invented after the fire and some of the building regulations we have today date from that time.”

This celebration of the Great Fire’s impact on the construction industry serves as a reminder of rules and regulations in place to reduce incidents around the workplace.

To view a list on the top ten most common reasons for firms to be fined, set out by the FFI – click here