London’s Screen Archives enables Londoners see their past come alive on film. Managed by Film London, we are a unique network of historic film collections that cares for, collects and screens heritage film across the city. Together we preserve London’s rich film heritage from feature films to home movies, public information films, newsreels, and records of the capital’s many different industries.
This film is part of Free
London Fire Raids 29th-30th December 1940
The devastating firebombing of London in December 1940 is captured in great detail in this extraordinary film showing the work of the London Fire Brigade.
From the collection of:
The City Of London suffered appalling damage on 29 and 30 December 1940, when it was targeted by incendiary bombs causing an inferno described as the “second great fire of London”. This film shows the extent of the firestorm, including footage of St Bride’s, St Lawrence Jewry and the Guildhall, with parts filmed from the roof of St Paul’s. The film has sound, and features a constant unnerving crackle of flames and the occasional explosion. Sixteen firefighters were killed.
The film emphasises the scale of the problems the Fire Brigade faced: there was a strong wind to help spread the flames, while the Thames was at low tide so water had to pumped across mudflats and up the hill to the middle of the City. It also shows fires in Borough and scenes from the fire brigade’s HQ, as well as the devastated streets the following day and firefighters attending a funeral. Much of the area destroyed is now covered by the Barbican complex. The film ends on an upbeat note, warning Hitler to “look out” but the mood throughout is sombre.