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Map of the London sewerage system from 1882.

The London sewerage system is part of the water infrastructure serving London, England. The modern system was developed during the late 19th century, and as London has grown the system has been expanded. It is currently owned and operated by Thames Water and serves almost all of Greater London.

History

The original Abbey Mills pumping station

During the early 19th century the River Thames was an open sewer, with disastrous consequences for public health in London, including cholera epidemics. These were caused by enterotoxin-producing strains of the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Although the contamination of the water supply was correctly diagnosed by Dr John Snow in 1849 as the method of communication, it was believed that miasma, or bad air, was responsible right up to the outbreak of 1866.[1] Proposals to modernise the sewerage system had been made in the early 1700s but the costs of such a project deterred progress. Further proposals followed in 1856, but were again neglected due to the costs. However, after the Great Stink of 1858, Parliament realised the urgency of the problem and resolved to create a modern sewerage system.[2]

Joseph Bazalgette, a civil engineer and Chief Engineer of the Metropolitan Board of Works, was given responsibility for the work. He and his colleagues, including William Haywood, designed an extensive underground sewerage system that diverted waste to the Thames Estuary, downstream of the main centre of population. Six main interceptor sewers, totalling almost 160 km (100 miles) in lengt

The London sewerage system is part of the water infrastructure serving London, England. The modern system was developed during the late 19th century, and as London has grown the system has been expanded. It is currently owned and operated by Thames Water and serves almost all of Greater London.

Undertakings
  • Metropolitan Buildings Office
  • Metropolitan Commission of Sewers
  • Metropolitan Fire Brigade
  • Major works
    Legislation
    People