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A Brief History of The British Sewage System

We’ve come a long way in terms of how we manage our health and waste. For a long time the connection between hygiene and health was not made and therefore life expectancy was very limited indeed.

As humans we produce waste, so wherever we settle there is bound to be waste as a natural by-product, this means we need a removal system to avoid disease spreading rapidly through highly populated areas such as Central London and other hubs.

The first period in which we made real progress is during Tudor times. With an influx of diverse people and produce, the creation of trade links resulted in overcrowding. Whilst this meant more money and more jobs it also meant more waste was being produced. The extra waste water began to flow and clog the streets until Sir John Harrington created an alternative to chamber pots – the first flushing toilet. Before this waste was simply dumped into the Thames, and was a huge contributing factor to the spreading of diseases such as cholera and the plague.

The flushing toilet, invented in the 1590s, was a key invention but took its time to take hold, it used a valve which let waste water flow and thus cleared the tank and the bowl. Until the 1800s the Thames was still used as a free-flowing open sewer. One year, during summer, the city officials were forced to take action when the city was awash with the awful smell from the river when it became clogged with all the waste of the city.

This began the work towards a complete sewer system to avoid such problems, Joseph Bazalgette was the chief engineer for the water works in London and it is his great contribution which still exists today. The system revolutionised the way we deal with our sewage and brought forward a great advance in the hygiene of our population.

Using connecting systems of sewers, which were low level, the Bazalgette design was used to direct waste to a treatment plant nearby to the Thames. To ensure the future of this design and the continued improvement of it he trained younger engineers throughout his years in the industry.

Once this was completed it was mirrored and reproduced across the UK. Now we know that it is not acceptable to simply leave waste to decompose, we treat all our waste before it is moved back into the environment.

With such high population density – every year the global population grows! – it is key to maintain these sewer and drainage systems to ensure we don’t return to the days where you can smell the sickening stench of human waste in the streets. You can get simple solutions to keep the drains and sewers connected to your home clear, for example, CCTV surveys will help assess the integrity of your drains as well as offer an insight into any blockages.

Another option is to have a blocked drain treatment which helps to clear out blockages and obstructions, power jetting and drain rodding are just a few of the ways we at 1st Call Drain Clearance can help you keep your waste water moving towards treatment plants where it should be.

If you suspect you have drainage issues contact us at 1st Call Drain Clearance today!

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Areas We Cover

We have engineers covering London, Central London and the Home Counties


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