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Guide to the Sanitary Reform of London: The Working Collection of Sir Joseph Bazalgette, ca. 1785-1969
DA676 .S26 1785  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
The collection documents the history of the sanitary evolution of London from the 1840s to the early twentieth century. Some 4500 separate printed, typescript, and manuscript items trace the stages by which the drainage and fresh water supply for London was introduced-- in its time perhaps the greatest feat of urban civil engineering that had ever been undertaken. Materials include maps, engineering designs, the working papers, both public and private, of the Metropolitan Water Board, legal briefs and numerous pamphlets describing sanitation projects outside London. The heart of the collection is the working library of Sir Joseph Bazalgette (1819-1891), the chief engineer who designed and implemented London's drainage and embankment systems. Balzagette's library formed part of the collection at the original Board of Works, which later became the Metropolitan Water Board. The collection documents the early period of urban improvement which laid the basis for healthy life in the modern city.
Background
Water engineer. Henry Austin, Consulting Engineer for the Metropolitan Commission of Sewers, wrote a paper for Chadwick's 1842 Enquiry into Large Towns and in 1844 became secretary of The Health of Towns Association. Described by Finer as Chadwick's 'favourite engineer'. According to Finer, Austin's plan for the sewers was 'beautifully imaginative'. The problem, that of Westminster, posed this question: how could one discharge sewage in a district lying below water-level? Austin's solution involved a series of pumps and small bore pipes, carrying the liquid manure to farms on all sides.Chief Engineer to the Board of Works. In 1851 a fourth Commission of Sewers was appointed. Bazalgette was to be chief engineer. His appointment confirmed the ascendency of engineers over Chadwick and the sanitarians. At the same time Cubitt and Stephenson were appointed consultants. Through 1854 Bazalgette and the engineers fought a battle with Chadwick and the Board of Health over the use of pipes. Bazalgette bore a personal grudge against Chadwick. He had applied for the post of Assistant Surveyor to the Metropolitan Commission in 1849, submitting as his theses a paper on "the Establishment of Public Conveniences", a matter then commanding much Metropolitan attention, but was beaten by John Grant who wrote on the "Working of Tubes in open ditches" (April 1849). The hostility between sanitarians and engineers was a sad fact. Those who should have worked together seemed to be expending their energy in opposing each other. Bazalgette circulated reports hostile to the Board of Health and these were of great use to those who opposed sanitary reform altogether. See S. E. Finer The life and Times of Sir Edwin Chadwick pp 448-452. By 1858 the Board of Health was completely extinguished and the Board of Works was set up in its place with Bazalgette appointed chief engineer. In the hands of this new body Bazalgette's intercepting sewer system was adopted and Chadwick's influence eclipsed.Engineer to the Commission of Sewers. In 1849 the Metropolitan Commission of Sewers and the General Board of Health were formally separated. A third Commission of Sewers was formed. Robert Stephenson was brought in and with him a clique of associates from the Birmingham Railway project. Their ideas of town drainage were nebulous, but they had experience of driving tunnels, and put great faith in the strength of the brick arch. Almost their first act was to appoint as Engineer to the Commission Frank Foster, an assistant to Stephenson. Forster was a firm believer in tunnel-sewers. This new Commission was deliberately constructed to exclude Chadwick's influence and to him it was a declaration of war for the sanitary destiny of London. In the event the principle of the intercepting tunnel was favoured, and Forster was bidden to prepare a workable scheme. In August 1850 his plan for the Southern out fall was accepted and in January 1851 the plan for the North bank. Thus the tunnel scheme had triumphed. See S. E. Finer, The life and Times of Sir Edwin Chadwick pp 380, 441.Water engineer. Hawksley was one of the witnesses called by Chadwick to give evidence to the Health of Towns Commission which reported in 1844 and which was the basis for all the subsequent legislation of the 'forties and 'fifties. He was the only water engineer called. In 1830 Hawksley had undertaken a new waterworks at Nottingham and it was his success here which first brought him to Chadwick's attention. At the start Chadwick placed great reliance on Hawksley's evidence and opinion. Hawksley had proved the efficiency and economy of "constant supply" on the proof of which the whole structure of Chadwick's sanitary plan depended. In 1844 when Chadwick made his only illfated attempt into private business with the creation of the "Towns improvement company" it was Hawksley he choose to one of the companies engineers. By 1847 however Chadwick had managed to provoke the undying hostility of Hawksley and the water engineers - a matter which was to have a sinister outcome for Chadwick's career. In that year Chadwick took Roe's side against Hawksley in a technical debate and from then on began consistently to discredit Hawksley's work. Hawksley now became Chadwick's most pertinacious enemy. In 1851 he set out to show that water-supply and drainage should not be united under one body: "In the one case it is a supply of ...goods...in the other simply removal of a nuisance!" In saying this Hawksley struck at Chadwick's core belief in one unified arterial water and sewage system. By 1850 the pattern had become one of entrenched opposition between Chadwick and the engineers. On the one hand Chadwick champion a system of pipes where the engineers favoured brick-built sewers. The engineers resented the continuous intrusion of a nonprofessional in the details of their own profession. Also they thought of their profits. Chadwick on the other hand was motivated by a desire for efficiency and economy which he thought would result from his single unified system. The antagonism between Chadwick and Hawksley did not abate. In 1876 the committee of the Social Science Association invited, of all people, Hawksley to take the presidency, and to an audience from which Chadwick was notably absent he delivered a paper attacking parliamentary interference and centralization in the history of sanitary improvement. Too much can be said of the unfortunate conflict between Chadwick and Hawksley. Hawksley was described by Chadwick's champion F. E. Finer as "England's greatest water engineer." His invention of the "constant system" conferred one of the greatest practical benefits technology was to bestow on Victorian populations. His part in the creation of the water and sewage system of London was of the greatest importance. To mark his eminence he was elected president of the Institute of Civil Engineers in 1901.Surveyor to the Commissioners for Sewers. In 1846 William Haywood at the age of twenty-four, a man of considerable abilities, was appointed full time surveyor to the Commissioners of Sewers. He immediately drew up competent surveys, began to clean out cess pools by machine, and in 1848 embarked on a plan for flushing the sewers. Heywood was in fact responsible for introducing a good sewer system and sanitation to the City of London and he worked in close co-operation with Sir John Simon. The City, it seems, regarded Haywood's as the more important contribution; in 1853 Simon's salary was £800 a year whilst Heywood's salary was increased to £1,200 - a token of the City's growing regard for his sanitary work.Medical Officer of Health for London. Henry Letheby, of the London Hospital, regularly advised the Corporation on Gas and other questions. He stood against Simon in the election for the Medical Officer of Health for London in 1848, his candidature supported by the Lancet. In October 1849 he succeeded John Simon as Medical Officer of Health for the City of London. Unlike Simon he was uninspired, plodding and efficient and possessed just those qualities of meticulous, patient administrator which Simon lacked. The result was that the Second Officership of Health in the years 1855-74 produced several very solid achievements. Letheby, in 1857, secured a special Lodging House Inspector and, in 1866, four full time Sanitary Inspectors and was thus able to make the supervision system against the evils of bad housing much more effective. His achievement was to fulfil Simon's 'visionary' programme of 1849 and the City long remained the model for Sanitation. See Royston Lambert, Sir John Simon p.214-6Engineer. He was a distinguished engineer and stood against Bazalgette for the post of chief engineer to the Board of Works in 1851. In 1869 he was called in to examine a claim by the inhabitants of Barking that the river was seriously polluted there by sewage out falls. Rawlinson accepted that the out falls may have been too close to central London but in the main his enquiry did not support the complaint. See David Owen The Government of Victorian London. 1982 p. 44, 66. Later Rawlinson became Chief Inspector to the Local Government Board.first Medical Officer of Health of the City of London. Simon entered government service when Chadwick retired (or was forced out) of it. The unpopular General Board of Health did not long survive Chadwick. Its powers were transferred to a committee of the Privy Council with Simon as medical officer and then to the Medical Department of the Local Government Board. The Local Government Board ran from 1870 to 1919 and during that period was one of the most powerful and important departments of state. What inevitably happened was a struggle between the old Poor Law officials and the officials for the Board of Health within the new Board. In this struggle the Poor Law officials came out triumphant and Sir John Simon, who might have expected to become Joint Secretary, was pushed to one side. John Lambert became supreme and the old Poor Law administration continued unchanged. In effect Public Health became absorbed into and subordinate to the Poor Law. The Local Government Board remained supreme until 1919 when some of its powers were transferred to the new the Ministry of Health - a Ministry which Bentham had advocated nearly a hundred years before. The Privy Council epoch 1858-1872 was Simon's period of greatest achievement. Chadwick and the officials of the Poor Law Board were suspicious of purely medical solutions. Their emphasis was on prevention. Simon, in fact, felt strongly that public health reform had been ill-served by being subsumed within Poor-Law considerations. His training in scientific research gave him a professional authority which Chadwick lacked. According to Sir Arthur Newsholme, sometime Medical Officer of Health for the Local Government Board, "Simon led, and in a large measure determined, the course of public health reform between the year 1855, when he left the service of the City for that of the State, and the year 1876 when the left the Local Government Board.Mechanical engineer. Engineer to the London Sewage Company, 1847, dissolved 1848. Formed and managed Patent Solid Sewage Company at Leicester 1851-65. One of the group of engineers opposed by Chadwick. In Leicester Chadwick tried to prevent Wicksteed's appointment. R. Stevenson stepped in to defend him.
Extent
455 items
Restrictions
Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections.
Availability
There are no restrictions on access.