An early fire en­gine

Country Life Every Week - - Exhibition -

cov­ered in to­day’s world of rolling news and in­stant on­line up­dates.

The fact that, nowa­days, ev­ery week seems to brings news of a new dis­as­ter and that the Great Fire shares many of the same cast of char­ac­ters—vic­tims, refugees, prof­i­teers and loot­ers, scape­goats, and lead­ers both com­pe­tent and in­com­pe­tent—gives this fine ex­hi­bi­tion an ex­tra cur­rency. ‘Fire! Fire!’ is at the Mu­seum of Lon­don, Lon­don EC2, un­til April 17, 2017 (020–7001 9844; www.mu­se­u­moflon­don. org.uk) One of the ex­hi­bi­tion high­lights is a re­stored 17th-cen­tury fire en­gine (right). At the time, these were the very lat­est ad­di­tion to the fire­fight­ers’ arsenal; a pump op­er­ated by long han­dles squirted water from a large bar­rel. It was claimed that, with 10 men work­ing the en­gine, it was more ef­fec­tive than 500 men us­ing buck­ets and lad­ders. How­ever, when it came to the test, the en­gines failed. Very heavy and awk­ward to ma­noeu­vre on the nar­row, cob­bled streets, they got stuck in the crowds flee­ing the fire. When they fi­nally did ar­rive on the scene, the fire was too fierce and the en­gines’ range too short to be ef­fec­tive.

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