INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT GREAT STINK OF LONDON
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.