The Fire of Beccles, November 1586

Part the History of fire sciences and technology project that I have been working on the last two years involves digitizing/archiving old documents related to fire sciences and technology. When I say old, I mean anything from 1920 all the way back to roman times. While some of these older documents speak of new ways to scientifically understand fire behavior, most only provide information of people’s perceptions and vague but the beginnings of understanding of fire engineering and dynamics.

Beccles market town fire

Beccles market town fire

For example, many digitized pamphlets from the 1500s describe fires that destroyed large parts of cities. These pamphlets’ authors typically accept that fires were a necessary instrument of a divine plan.  The pamphlets  though provide information to the beginnings of the study of fire engineering and dynamics as a science, especially in regards to incombustible and/or combustible construction techniques.

I share the following pdf copy of one of the older documents digitized for the above project (slightly restored for initial posting). The file may be downloaded in full here.

This manuscript authorship is accredited to T.D (Thomas Deloney). The document describes the Beccles market town fire that occurred November 1586. The fire ultimately destroyed over 80 buildings (there does not seem to be much information about life loss or injuries that I could find) and caused 20k£ damages (easily over 5 million+ £ in today’s dollars). Interestingly, the article is one of the few from this time period which shows an illustration. This image is reproduced below. As an aside, I find it interesting that the image  illustrates smoke, where often in today’s illustrations of fire in media often neglect to draw smoke.

Please feel free to message me if there you have any questions about this project or the Beccles fire (john.gales@carleton.ca).

This entry was posted in Case study fire, fire fighting, History, Open access, poetry, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.