Drainage – A Historical Problem

October 14th, 2009

Despite no end of innovation in engineering, there’s still one thing we can’t do with water – stop it. Blocked drains and burst pipes will always keep emergency plumbers in London busy, but has it always been that way?

Although cities have been served by drainage systems since Roman times, and probably before, they haven’t always been as effective as we would like. The history of sewers and drains in London is no exception.

In 17th Century London there were three rivers that carried waste to the River Thames. Waste was washed down the streets to these rivers by rainwater, via sewers underneath the main thoroughfares. The Tyburn serves the middle of the city, flowing south to Regent’s park from St John’s Wood and Belsize Park. From there it runs through central London and past Buckingham Palace and into the Thames near Scotland Yard. The Westbourne runs from Kilburn to the Thames near Royal Hospital via Paddington, Hyde Park, and Knightsbridge. The source of the River Fleet is at Hampstead Heath. It then flows southeast to King’s Cross, Ludgate Circus and to the Thames.

By the 18th Century some properties included connections to local sewers and, with improved street cleaning, the focus shifted to the removal of waste water from households and flood prevention. It wasn’t until the end of the century that Cholera began to cause problems, leading eventually to more stringent waste water management. That, though, is another story.

The state of the art technology used by our team at IQ Plumbing Services would amaze the engineers who were first responsible for London’s waste water. Modern day emergency plumbers are able to provide fast, expert help whenever our customers need it.

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