On this day in history : 18th March 1925 – Fire destroys two floors of Madame Tussaud’s in London and many of the waxworks melt – leaving a grotesque scene….
The fire was discovered at 10.30pm and by 11.30pm the top floor was a raging inferno. One eyewitness, as reported by the Guardian at the time said flames leapt 50 feet high from the roof of the building – “The wax models could be distinctly heard sizzling themselves to death”…. Those waxworks represented world leaders, members of parliament, historical characters, sports personalities….and infamous criminals. A macabre scene of melted faces, charred twisted limbs and broken torsos…. Also lost was an important collection of Napoleonic relics, including Napoleon’s deathbed and carriages….
Dozens of fire engines attended…. The fire chief, Mr. A.R. Dyer had been enjoying a night out at a nearby theatre and arrived to start tackling the fire in full evening dress…. It took and hour and a half to bring the blaze under control and by midnight it was out…. The whole top floor was destroyed, the roof had collapsed, leaving the Planetarium dome a mere skeleton. Lower floors of the building suffered severe water damage….
Thankfully nobody was injured…. One survivor was a parrot in a cage – at first nobody was sure if it was a waxwork or real…. However, a few moments after being brought outside into the ‘fresh’ air it fully revived…. Evidently it was a talking parrot because apparently on recovery its first words were “This is a rotten business”….
Luckily the Baker Street attraction of Madame Tussaud’s was insured. In 1928 it reopened – complete with new cinema and restaurant…. Thankfully all the moulds for the waxworks were stored at a separate site….