Text on funeral card: ‘In memory of Mr James Braidwood ... who lost his life at the Great Fire in Tooley Street, June 22 1861 in his 61st year. He died at the point of duty and whether it was the battlefield or at the head of the fire brigade the holiest place on earth on which to live or die was the post of duty.’
The fire at Cottons Wharf on Tooley Street, on 22 June 1861, was seen as the greatest fire since The Great Fire of London and took the life of James Braidwood.
Smoke was discovered at a warehouse storing hemp and jute, and within 30 minutes, the fire was raging, and spread quickly to surrounding buildings. This was mainly due to the fire resistant doors being left open in the haste of workmen leaving.
When the Fire Brigade arrived, there was a roar of fire and a wall collapsed onto James Braidwood killing him instantly. The fire lasted for 14 days.