What was the Great Victorian Stink

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We have a lot to thank the Victorians for. Not only did they develop technologies that we still use today but they also helped to bring about one of the biggest changes in human health and sanitisation – drainage and flushing toilets. They are one of the reasons we have the wonderful drainage systems that we have today and why we can call in a CCTV Drainage Surveys company to come in and assess our drains and repair any damage, take a look here if you are looking for some help in these areas https://www.wilkinson-env.co.uk/drainage-services-cctv-surveys-midlands/cctv-drain-surveys/. Here is the reason why.

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London grew incredibly quickly in the first half of the 19th Century and more and more people wanted to live in the capital. As a result more houses were built and this meant that there was an increase in the amount of waste that was being produced by each household. Back in the 19th Century very few houses had flushing toilets and this resulted in the waste being thrown out into the streets where ‘Night soil men’ would collect some of it to use on the fields as fertiliser and the rest would flow down the cobbled streets where it would collect in places until the rain or more water would wash it down towards the River Thames.

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Cholera outbreaks were common and although this is a disease that occurs as a result of consuming polluted water the Victorians thought it might have had something to do with the foul smell that emanated from the streets and from the River Thames which had basically become a glorified sewer of its own. In the heat of the summer in 1858 the waste that had piled high in the river started to ferment in the warm summer sun. The stench that was produced affected the whole of London and even the minister in the Houses of Parliament (which had recently been rebuilt next to the Thames) had had enough.

A proposal was put together to deal with the sewage problem once and for all. This system was to be designed to prevent as much of the waste products and waste water of London from ending up in the Thames as was practically possible. The man in charge of this was Joseph Bazalgette who at the time was the Chief Engineer of the Metropolitan Board of Works. He developed a system of sewers that connected with one another that would take the waste away from the houses and the streets and would allow this to be released with an outgoing tide.

From here embankment of the River Thames took place and the sewage pipes were encased in this embankment which would also act as a flood defence for nearby areas. The removal of the polluted water helped to reduce the instances of cholera and we have since learnt much more about the disease and ways in which we can prevent and treat it.

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