Sunday, June 30, 2019

"Too hot? In 1858 a heatwave turned London into a stinking sewer"

Opportunity is where you find it and right now I'm thinking the return of nosegays can't be too far away. And with a world-wide market to boot.
As the philosopher said "San Francisco is the only city where the dogs complain about stepping in people doo."
From the BBC, August 3 2018:

Suffering in the hot weather? Spare a thought then for the population of London back in 1858, a year of sky-high temperatures and the Great Stink.
That year, the London Standard reported temperatures of over 30C by the middle of June and the weather stayed hot for several weeks

There was no air conditioning, no refrigeration, it was really hard to keep food fresh and there was no proper sewerage system, according to Museum of London curator Beverley Cook.

Everything you didn't want ended up in the River Thames, from the contents of people's chamber pots and the new-fangled flush lavatories, to dead dogs, decomposing food and industrial waste, including animal parts from abattoirs and chemicals from leather tanning factories along the river.
The Thames embankment had not yet been built, accidental drownings and river suicides were common and bodies were rarely recovered from the water.

On top of this, everything was horse-drawn - so the streets were full of massive piles of manure, says Ms Cook.
"Flies were swarming down on this and of course transmitting disease such as diarrhoea and typhoid."

It was a nauseating mix and the heat made it worse - standing close to the river was enough to make you retch.
It was dubbed the Great Stink and it was no joke.

By the 1850s, London was the largest city on the planet, with a rapidly growing population that had already topped 2.5 million - but it was struggling to provide its citizens with clean water and sanitation.

In Little Dorrit, written that decade, Charles Dickens described the Thames: "Through the heart of the town a deadly sewer ebbed and flowed, in the place of a fine fresh river."
Worse, Londoners drew their drinking water from the Thames and its tributary rivers, which were often just as polluted.
A condition called summer diarrhoea was common, as was typhoid, while cholera killed thousands in a series of epidemics.....