Muscat Daily - - BREAK -

In the sum­mer of 1858, Lon­don­ers found them­selves in the mid­dle of a big stink­ing prob­lem. For cen­turies, the city was abus­ing River Thames us­ing it as dump­ing ground for hu­man ex­cre­ment and in­dus­trial waste re­sult­ing in a river that was lit­tle more than an open sewer de­void of any fish or other wildlife.

The stench ris­ing from the river had been a mount­ing prob­lem for some years pri­ors to the ‘Great Stink’ of 1858. That year, the weather was un­usu­ally hot. In the scorch­ing heat, the sewage float­ing in the Thames started to fer­ment and gave off a stench so hideous that at the Par­lia­ment, cur­tains were soaked in chlo­ride of lime in a vain at­tempt to de­feat the fetid smell. Even­tu­ally, they de­cided that re­build­ing Lon­don’s sewer sys­tem was the only pos­si­ble so­lu­tion. The task of re­form­ing the Thames and im­ple­ment­ing a new sewage sys­tem fell upon the chief en­gi­neer of the Metropoli­tan Board of Works, Joseph Bazal­gette.

Bazal­gette’s plan was to take sewage as far as pos­si­ble from the city through grav­ity flow and steam-pow­ered pump­ing en­gines and then dump it un­treated into the Thames far to the south­east of the city. He con­structed a net­work of in­ter­cept­ing sew­ers, run­ning par­al­lel to the river, some 82 miles in length. Th­ese col­lected sewage from over 450 miles of ex­ist­ing sew­ers that them­selves re­ceived con­tents from over 13,000 miles of small lo­cal sew­ers, deal­ing daily with half a mil­lion gal­lons of waste.

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