CHANGES IN WATER SUPPLY

"Between 1832 and 1849 many changes took place in the water supply of London. The Lambeth Water Company continued to obtain their supply [of water] opposite Hungerford Market; but they had established a small reservoir at Brixton."

         - John Snow, 1855, p. 60.

The first reservoir of the Lambeth company was built at Streatham Hill in 1832, and the second in Brixton in 1834.  The intent was to store, settle and filter the water, but apparently the filtration did not occur on a regular basis.  This point was made by Snow in his 1855 book when he wrote, "...although...the [Lambeth Waterworks Company] professed to filter the water, they supplied it in a most impure condition.  Even in the following year [1850], when Dr. Hassall made an examination of it, he found in it the hairs of animals and numerous substances which had passed through the alimentary canal."

LOCATION OF RESERVOIRS

The location of the two reservoirs was not clearly shown by Snow in his map 2 which presented the water distribution patterns for the Southwark and Vauxhall and Lambeth water companies.  The Brixton reservoir was adjacent to the Brixton prison, identified only as "penitentiary" on Snow's map.  The Streatham Hill reservoir was south of the Brixton reservoir, not shown by Snow but likely as presented in the figure at right.

The locations are more easily identified in the Old Ordnance Maps of 1870 for the Brixton and Streathham Hill areas of greater London, as shown to the right.  For an enlarge view of the top and bottom of the 1870 map, click on the two areas.  

In 1832, the Lambeth Waterworks Company had  built a reservoir in Streatham Hill (see bottom of figure). Within a year, the value of the company's shares had increased tenfold.  Then in 1834, the company acquired 16 acres of land in Brixton and built a new headquarters and more reservoirs (see top region of figure). 

In 1847, the directors made the decision to move the intake for the two reservoirs to Seething Wells by Thames Ditton, which was completed in 1852.  The water, however, continued to be piped from Seething Wells to the London reservoirs for distribution to people living south of the River Thames. 

click for enlarged
view of area

Alternatively to clicking on the map, the sites of the two reservoirs are shown below with a few words of introduction. 

Streatham Hill Reservoir

Click here to learn more about the 1832 Streatham Hill reservoir.

 

Brixton Reservoir

Click here to learn more about the move to Brixton in 1834 to new headquarters and a new reservoir. 

The Lambeth Waterworks Company was taken over by the Metropolitan Water Board in 1902.  The landmark reservoirs are now gone, but the locations remain apparent in a street map of modern London (see below).

Return to Map of Water Companies

Sources:

 Halliday S. The Great Stink of London, 1999.
 London A-Z Map, 1998.
 Old Ordnance Survey Maps - Brixton, Herne Hill, 1870.
 Old Ordnance Survey Maps - Streatham Hill, Tulse Hill, 1870.
 Snow J. On the Mode of Communication of Cholera, 1855.
 Weinreb B, Hibbert C. The London Encyclopaedia, 1993.

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