The Abbey from Whitehall
London was the growing capital of an expanding empire. The largest
and richest city in existence. Each year the city grew by the population
of a small town.
It had the finest architecture and the river made London a centre
of international trade.
The population had seen massive growth and the streets thronged
with wealth and squalor side by side.
With no adequate sanitation many streets ran with the waste from
houses and businesses. The Thames could not cope with the sewage
from the millions of londoners and the tides simply pushed the waste
upstream forming a massive cess pool.
In the summer of 1858 the houses of parliament had to close because
the smell had become overpowering.
There were 13,000 street traders in London, many of which were
children. The police estimated 20,000 children were being trained
as pick-pockets and criminals.
This was the London that Dickens detested and helped slowly change
through his novels ‘Oliver Twist’, ‘Pickwick
Papers’ and ‘Bleak House’.
In 1861 London saw a revolution in sanitation brought about by
a major sewer project. This meant that the sewage finally ran below
the streets and under the Thames embankment. The project completed