GREAT FIRE OF 1824
was between the 15th and 17th of November 1824, that a series of fires
broke out in Edinburgh's centre.
The first fire started in a large seven storey building in the High Street.
The flames, issuing from premises occupied as a copperplate printing house,
spread to the roof and in less than an hour several adjoining tenements
were ablaze. Fireman were successful in saving the property to the eastward,
but the building containing the offices of the Cournant Newspaper were
unable to be saved from the inferno as it progressed in the oppostie direction.
The fire was also spreading backwards to the Cowgate where old timber
structured buildings, crowded together, would quickly be destroyed.
The blaze was finally halted to the west of the Courant Offices, due to
a neighbouring building which, one storey higher, prevented the flames
from reaching its roof. At midday on the 16th November, the fire seemed
to have burnt itself out.
The Tron Kirk, standing two hundred yards away from the scene of the first
conflagration, was the source of the next outbreak. Just as the first
fire became subdued, an alarm was given that the steeple was alight and
long ladders had to be employed by crew to reach the roof of the church.
The structure, made of lead covered wood, could not be extinguished, and
soon came crashing down to the ground. A powerful engine, owned by the
Board of Ordnance, finally subdued this fire.
A third outbreak occurred that same evening, (16th November), this time
starting in an eleven storey buliding on Parliament Square. Owing to the
great height of the structure, it was impossible to bring the fire engines
effectively to bear on the flames, which spread in all directions as a
four o' clock that morning, the building was a mass of flame which quickly
extended to the east of the square, destroying the new Jury Court Room,
in its wake. This fire, which abated at 8:00 in the morning, had showered
sparks and embers onto the residences towards the rear of the High Street
and numerous other places, but these comparatively small outbreaks were
soon brought under control.
The estimated value of the destroyed and damaged property is thought to
have been approximately £200,000. Ten people died in the disaster
and many others were seriously injured. Between four and five hundred
families were rendered homeless in consequence and a fund was started
for their relief.