London Fire Brigade

LFB 150: Covent Garden warehouse fire

11 May 2016

As we celebrate our 150th anniversary we're looking back at some of the most significant and some of the more unusual incidents that have taken place since we were formed in 1866.

Today marks a fire close to Covent Garden, which claimed the lives of three firefighters and left a further five hospitalised.

The fire began around 1500 on 11 May 1954 in a five-storey fruit and vegetable warehouse on Shelton Street. The blaze continued burning into the night.

Twenty four fire engines and more than 100 firefighters battled the fire, which caused the roof and walls to collapse.

A newspaper labelled it "one of the biggest fires in central London since the enemy raids of the war".

Station Officer Frederick Hawkins and Firefighter Arthur Batt-Rawden were killed tackling the blaze. Firefighter Charles Gadd later died as a result of his injuries.

Then and now: the same alleyway 62 years apart.

One of the firefighters killed in the fire was only discovered missing when absent during a roll call back at the station.

As a result of this tragedy, adjustments were made in the procedure the Brigade used when attending incidents requiring breathing apparatus.

Our 150th anniversary