The Great Fire of Gateshead

Today, Year 2 went on a trip to St Mary’s Heritage Centre in Gateshead. They learned all about The Great Fire of Gateshead.

First, they learned all about the building they were standing in. St Mary’s Heritage Centre is a church that is 850 years old. It is made of stone and has stained glass windows.

Then, the children learned about what Gateshead was like in 1854. There was no electricity so people lit their homes with candles and wood fires. Also, Gateshead was very smoky and lots of disease spread. After that, the children walked to where the fire started. Did you know, there were no fire engines in 1854? There were fire tenders. These didn’t have an engine and were pulled by horses. As there were no pipes to get the water from, the firemen had to throw their hoses into the river and then pump the water up the hose to spray on the fire.

They learned that the fire started in a wool factory, but it quickly spread to a sulphur factory close by. The boys and girls learned that sulphur is yellow but, when it burns, it burns with a blue flame. The children were shocked to find out that the bird poo on the factory was explosive. When the explosion happened, it sent burning timber across the river spreading the fire from  Gateshead to Newcastle.

The fire burned for days and the water wasn’t putting it out. So, the firemen worked out they needed to create a fire break. The children learned that fire can spread across a small gap but, if you make the gap big enough, it can’t. Whole streets were destroyed, but the fire stopped spreading and was eventually put out.

Article 31 – We have the right to take part in cultural and creative activities.

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