In 1852, the Metropolitan Water Act was passed, mandating that water companies move their intakes above Teddington Lock into the non-tidal region of the River Thames.  Fortunate for the Lambeth Waterworks Company, by the time the legislation was enacted, their building process was completed, and they became the first water company to comply with the Act. 

The figure below shows the new location of the Lambeth intake, 22 miles upriver from the old site.  Snow's 1854 map 2 extends south from the River Thames, but not far enough to identify the upriver site.  The 1859 Reynolds's map of London also does not show the new site, as seen in the shaded area below. 

 

The River Thames is tidal.  Water moves back and forth to the ocean with the incoming and outgoing tides.  The tidal water at Hungerford Bridge where the Lambeth company intake had been located was often polluted, with back and forth motion of the river and too many people disposing sewage and other debris. 

FRESH WATER

The upper region of the River Thames, where the Lambeth company relocated its intake, had fresh water.  Eventually the fresh water would come in contact with the tidal water, but closer to London.

At the town of Teddington the river is barred by a line of sluice-gates.  These gates are the Teddington Weir (or dam -- see arrow).  Accompanying the weir is a lock which allows boats to move from one side of the weir to the other.  Here the tidal Thames, with polluted water mixed with sea water, is separated from fresh water of the upper Thames.

MAP

Click here for more information on Teddington Lock and Weir

Two miles further against the current of the river is Kingston-upon Thames, the scene of the coronation of Saxon kings a thousand years earlier. Then after a few more miles comes Seething Wells, by Thames Ditton (just to the left of the bottom of the map, not seen.   It is here that the Lambeth Waterworks Company established its new intake (see arrow at bottom section of map).

MAP

Click here for more information on Teddington Lock in 1872

 

Two miles further against the current of the river is Kingston-upon Thames, the scene of the coronation of Saxon kings a thousand years earlier. Then after a few more miles comes Seething Wells, by Thames Ditton (just to the left of the bottom of the map, not seen).  It is here that the Lambeth Waterworks Company established its new intake (see arrow at bottom section of map).

MAP

Click here for more information on the Seething Wells site

The scene below is of the Lambeth Waterworks Company in 1851, soon to be in operation with a new water intake and facility. 

THOUGHTS OF SNOW

John Snow had thoughts of his own about the River Thames, useful for understanding the situation. In part 3 of his book he wrote: "The Thames in London is a very large body of water, and if the whole of it flowed away into the sea every day, the liquid which flows down the sewers in twelve hours would form but a very small part of it; but it must be remembered that the quantity of water which passes out to sea, with the ebb of every tide, is only equal to that which flows over Teddington Lock, and from a few small tributary streams."  He goes on to write, "... the river becomes a kind of prolonged lake, the same water passing twice a day to and fro through London, and receiving the excrement of its two millions and more of inhabitants, which keeps accumulating till there is a fall of rain. In time of cholera, the evacuations of the patients keep accumulating in the river along with the other impurities..." 

- Snow, p. 95, 1855

With the new intake, the Lambeth Waterworks Company hoped to avoid such calamity. 

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Sources:

Elmbridge Museum, Weybridge, Surrey, 2000.

Graham-Leigh J. London's Water Wars, 2000.
Snow J. Mode of Communication of Cholera, 1st ed, 1849.
Snow J. On the Mode of Communication of Cholera, 2nd ed, 1855.
Wilson D G. The Victorian Thames, 1993.

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