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Damage Caused By Guy Fawkes - Lewes Bonfire Celebrations

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Guy Fawkes could have made a very big bang in Whitehall, according to physicists, Had the Gunpowder Plot succeeded, the blast from more than two tons of explosive would have made a bonfire of the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey and houses nearby, Severely damaged buildings in Whitehall and shattered windows more than half a mile away.

Gunpowder Plot MapArea of London that would have been damaged had Guy Fawkes succeeded, is marked in the shaded area.

Britons have burnt Guy Fawkes in effigy since the era’s most famous Catholic conspirator was caught red handed and the reign of James I saved on November 5th 1605.

To decide the true potential of the fuse that was never lit, the Institute of Physics in London invited a team at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, to work out what 2,500 kg of gunpowder, roughly the amount Guy Fawkes packed into a cellar at Westminster, would do. Assuming the gunpowder would have been as powerful as TNT, they calculated it would have caused severe structural damage to an area up to 500 metres from the centre of the explosion.

All buildings within about 40 metres would have been destroyed, wooden poles 60 metres away would have snapped, roofs and walls more than 100 metres away would have collapsed and there would have been some damage up to 500 metres, even at 900 metres, some windows would have broken.

Geraint Thomas of the centre for explosion studies at Aberystwyth, said the team had used the weight of explosives to work out how the blast would have affected its surroundings.

” We know that the more energy we have, the more energy will be released when the charge is set off, ” he said ” Guy Fawkes was an expert in explosives and so knew what he was doing, if he had the gunpowder confined in barrels and well packed in, it could have been almost as powerful as the equivalent TNT explosion.”

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