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Great Stink of London

Great Stink of London

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1214171,746 (4.21)2
A vivid account of the life and work of Sir Joseph Bazalgette, the engineer who designed and built the system of intercepting sewers, pumping stations and treatment works that cleaned up Victorian London.
Título:Great Stink of London
Informação:SUTTON PUBLISHING (date?), Paperback
Coleções:Sua biblioteca

Detalhes da Obra

The Great Stink of London: Sir Joseph Bazalgette and the Cleansing of the Victorian Metropolis de Stephen Halliday

  1. 00
    The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World de Steven Johnson (nessreader)
    nessreader: Ghost Map details a story mentioned in passing in The Great Stink and shows what London without Bazalgette would have been.

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Exibindo 4 de 4
A biography of Sir Joseph Bazalgette, the engineer who designed and built the London sewer system. Fascinating, in a queasy sort of way. Given the obstacles involved, it's amazing that anything got done at all - much less an engineering work of such proportion.

Like everybody else, I got taught the story of John Snow and the "cholera pump" as a classic example of epidemiological detective work. Snow maps the distribution of cholera, it centers around a pump in Broad Street, the pump handle gets removed, cholera stops, it's waterborne, end of story. As The Great Stink of London clarifies, however, it wasn't - nobody important believed chlorea was waterborne. The prevailing wisdom was cholera was spread by "miasmas" - essentially, bad smells - and the miasmatics feel all over themselves demonstrating how Snow's map actually showed that that houses that smelled worst had the most cholera. Even after Koch found the cholera bacteria, there were people - notably, Florence Nightingale - who persisted in the miasmatic theory. Thus Bazalgette's work was not so much to make the Thames potable as to make it smell better.

Something that's absolutely incomprehensible to me is how Bazalgette and his engineers managed to convince the local politicians. Some of the larger London parishes had 1600 different elected or appointed bodies with public works responsibility. And none of them wanted to let somebody tear up their streets to put in sewers. How could anybody be patient and politically astute enough to deal with this? I would have been hurling myself across the conference table to bang heads against the wall after the first ten minutes. Makes me rethink some of my libertarian anti-big-government principles.

Another obstacle Bazalgette had to fight against was the persistent belief that sewage was valuable and should be collected and used, not treated and disposed of. Like many recycling schemes, the "valuable sewage" schemers simply looked at the expense of conventional fertilizer without taking into account collection, treatment and distribution costs for sewage-based manure.

A couple of (minor) complaints; I would have liked to have seen more discussion of the actual mechanics involved in building a Victorian sewer, and the cover illustration is just hideous. ( )
  setnahkt | Jan 2, 2018 |
I've always been fascinated by anything concerning the history of London, including the very workings of the infrastructure. I already knew Joseph Bazalgette's story and was amazed at the task he had before him. This book added to my knowledge by giving details such as what he was up against with local authorities and the typical "not in my backyard" camp. It may be too much information for some people's taste, but people who are fascinated by the things that most take for granted- this will give you a fix. ( )
  Twikpet | Mar 29, 2013 |
Loved this book from start to finish! Where would be be today without an efficient sewer system? Can you imagine living in a time where people were paid to come out at night and remove your sewage or when it was left to collect in piles under your house or dumped in the Thames? This book is also about a mystery that needed solving. Why were people getting cholera in the 1850's in London? How could lives be saved and who was ingenious and clever enough to find out the answers? makes you glad that you live in the 21st century! ( )
  ashmolean1 | Aug 16, 2009 |
A fascinating story and worthy tribute to Joseph Bazalgette, an under appreciated Victorian-era engineer responsible not only for designing and overseeing the construction of London's huge sanitary sewer system, but also the construction of Victoria, Chelsea and Albert Embankments, forever changing the face and character of central London. We take so much of our modern cities for granted, not realizing that entire rivers are flowing under the streets, blissfully unaware of the level of vision and commitment required to create an infrastructure that provides health and convenience. The writing style is breezy and lucid, although the author has a distracting habit of repetition. Certain factoids, such as "the embankments reclaimed 52 acres of land" are repeated over and over again, and several favorite quotes are repeated at least 3 times.
1 vote jaygheiser | Jul 31, 2008 |
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A vivid account of the life and work of Sir Joseph Bazalgette, the engineer who designed and built the system of intercepting sewers, pumping stations and treatment works that cleaned up Victorian London.

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