How the Victorians tried to stop the great stink
In 1858 London had a very big problem. The air was so thick you could cut it with a knife. This was the great stink. The smell was a combination of a dry summer, virtually non existent public health provision and drains that had been in use since Roman times. Should we ever discover the ability to travel in time one of the first things that would strike us if we went back would be the overpowering smell. In 1858 things got as worse as they ever could be.
The great stink focused the minds of the Government as they tried to debate the problem in parliament. Huge sheets soaked in carbolic had been placed around the Commons but it was to no avail. On a serious note the disease of typhoid and cholera were also greatly on the rise. However, this was due to the terrible quality of the water (and not the smell itself) but the smell certainly helped them to focus. If they had had the services of a CCTV Surveys Gloucester based company they could have seen straight away, using a small camera, what the problem was. The drains were based on a part medieval, part Roman sewerage system dumping directly into the Thames.
The solution was radical for the thrifty Victorians. They improved and replaced the sewers plus built a series of large pumping stations. These buildings can still be seen today in all their glory. Abbey Mills Pumping station is a grade two listed building and a popular tourist spot. It has a Byzantine frontage, a homage to the Romans and their interest in public health, which hides it’s rather important work.