Bring back some good or bad memories


September 10, 2014

Melted and Damaged Mannequins After a Fire at Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum in London, 1925

In 1925 there was a really bad fire at the Madame Tussauds wax museum in London. An eye-witness who lives opposite Madame Tussaud’s said in an interview that the fire was a wonderful spectacle. Strong red and golden flames leapt 50 feet from the roof of the building. The wax models could be distinctly heard sizzling.

The grotesque scene above shows the aftermath of a disastrous fire at London's Madame Tussauds in 1925. The whole building became a chamber of horrors, when a huge blaze ripped through the upper floors.

The blaze occurred on 18 March 1925 and took an hour and a half to extinguish. The scenes inside must have resembled the finale to Raiders of the Lost Arc, with melting faces everywhere.

Members of Parliament, world leaders, sports personalities, historical characters and infamous criminals all burned in effigy during the greatest celebrity bonfire of all time. These most expensive of candles caused quite an inferno.

Fire fighters tackle the blaze. (c) Illustrated London News Group.

A collection of sporting personalities, following the fire. (c) Illustrated London News Group.

The surreal scene became still odder when the fire chief began tackling the flames in full evening dress, having been summoned from a nearby theatre.

This was a devastating fire, which put Madame Tussauds out of action for years. The whole of the top floor was destroyed, with heavy water damage to the lower floors. A collection of important Napoleonic relics — including the emperor's coaches and deathbed — were also lost. Fortunately, nobody was injured and the building was insured.

Murderer Dr Crippen (left mannequin) was one of the few effigies to be saved from the fire. (c) Illustrated London News Group.

The rescue of a green parrot, who told bystanders 'This is a rotten business'. (c) Illustrated London News Group.

The attraction took three years to bounce back. As luck would have it, the wax moulds had been stored at a separate site, making the job of repopulating the building all the simpler. Madame Tussauds reopened in 1928 with a new cinema and restaurant, and presumably a few more fire buckets.

History of Madame Tussaud’s

Madame ‘Marie’ Tussaud had opened the museum in 1835. She lived on Baker Street and opened her museum nearby.

Madame Tussaud "at the age of 42, when she left France for England". Portrait study (1921) by John Theodore Tussaud.

Almost as famous as the museum itself was the infamous “Chamber of Horrors” located within its walls. Tussaud, French by birth, actually began making wax models in a major way during the French revolution. She would recreate the corpses of guillotined noblemen and ended up displaying them in her museum.

All in all, the original museum boasted around 400 waxwork figurines of celebrities and notorious criminals alike. Tussaud had even created a waxwork in her likeness and this still exists to this day.



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