London – Sanitation and Modernization

By Anthony Punch-

 

A cholera outbreak in 1854, along with the Great Stink in central London due to the build-up of human waste and effluent in 1858 brought about the implementation of a sewerage system in London, which was created in the 1860’s by Joseph Bazalgette. Until then, waste was fed into the Thames River, which the fast-growing population of London also used as a water resource. This helped cause cholera outbreaks due to contaminated waters which killed many Londoners, especially those living in the overcrowded slums in the city.

Edward Bazalgette, director of The Sewer King, remarks:
“It’s hard to overstate the influence (Of the sewers). The building of the sewers was one of the great modernizing projects that helped define not just London as a modern city but the metropolis in general”

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London sewerage system (1950 by London Mapping Network)

This map of the London sewerage system (London County Council Main Drainage, 1950) shows the network which was so vital.

Among London’s efficient networks making it such a prosperous modern city, is its sewerage network. The storm relief pipes along with the diversion of waste away from the Thames, played a major role in the cleaning of the city and therefore the modernization of the city.

This infrastructure improved hygiene levels and thus the health of the population which increased quality of life and led to more spaces being available for public use due to the lesser amount of waste building up in slums and on streets.

Scientist Michael Faraday highlights the stench from the river at the time (Mid 1800’s) Debates are currently ongoing as regards further work on the sanitation of London, with occasional flooding sometimes bringing about sewerage problems

Scientist Michael Faraday highlights the stench from the river at the time (Mid 1800’s) Debates are currently ongoing as regards further work on the sanitation of London, with occasional flooding sometimes bringing about sewerage problems

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London Sewerage System 1890

The introduction of public baths to London (1840’s) as a public health measure to address the hygiene issues was an important step – people could wash themselves and clean their clothes in these baths.

Hygiene and sanitation are sometimes taken for granted in the modern world, but the role they play in the public sphere is important, impacting both the health and behaviour of people. Public spaces provide people with a platform to display themselves and socialise. An unhygienic person today would be frowned upon, and a nasty smell would be dealt with in a swift manner, which shows how the city has changed and modernized.

Anthony Punch
111385471

 

Bibliography

 

Tim Lambert. 2010. A Brief History Of London, England. [ONLINE]

Available at:http://www.localhistories.org/london.html.

[Accessed 13 October 14].

 

Sanitation. 2011. Sanitation In Victorian London. [ONLINE]

Available at: http://cai.ucdavis.edu/waters-sites/sanitation/.

[Accessed 09 October 14].

 

Sewer History. 2007. London Sewers. [ONLINE]

Available at:http://www.sewerhistory.org/articles/whregion/slate_london_sewers.htm.

[Accessed 13 October 14].

 

Mapping London. 2014. London’s other underground network. [ONLINE]

Available at:http://mappinglondon.co.uk/2014/londons-other-underground-network/.

[Accessed 09 October 14].

 

Goheen, Peter.G, 1998.

Public space and the geography of the modern city.

Progressive Human Geography, 22, 479.

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