Tim Kempster, our managing director, casts a backward glance at the UK’s most infamous plot.
Today we celebrate Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire Night.
It’s the date in 1605 when Guy Fawkes was apprehended while guarding explosives that he and his co-conspirators had hidden under the House of Lords.
It was a plot to kill Protestant King James I and replace him with a Catholic head of state. In the aftermath, Londoners lit bonfires to celebrate the King’s survival.
A few months later, the Observance of 5th November Act was introduced. This made the day a public day of thanksgiving. It’s still celebrated in virtually every town and village across the UK.
The Gunpowder Plot conspirators had hidden no less than 2,500kg of gunpowder under the chamber above.
The University of Wales’ Centre for Explosion Studies estimates that would have caused devastation over a 490-metre radius. Windows would have been broken a third of a mile away.
Another explosive expert, Dr Sidney Alford, also calculated that Guy Fawkes needed far less explosive. A mere 100kg of gunpowder would have been enough.
Compare that with our advanced system which was first live tested some ten years ago at a test site in Northumberland. It involved the structurally-glazed system being subjected to the equivalent of 500 kilos of TNT.
Our lorry bomb test was successful. Interestingly, by a margin of five times what Guy Fawkes would have needed to destroy parliament.
Our blast-resistant systems can now be found worldwide. But they can also protect high-value buildings in, for example, Hong Kong. It’s in a typhoon area, where wind loading is a particular factor.
In other words, modern glazing systems can absorb blast and high wind-loading pressures that were unimaginable just a few years ago.
The system’s strength is achieved through a high-specification structural glazing technique that bonds the glass to the framing support system.
This means that, in an explosion, the components work together to safely absorb the thermal shock of the explosion.
So, it’s nice to know that, in today’s uncertain world, we can still thwart any new Guy Fawkes with the power of glass alone.