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 , when Dr. Hassall made an examination of it, he found in
it the hairs of animals and numerous substances which had passed through the
LOCATION OF RESERVOIRS
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.
Alternatively to clicking on the map, the sites
of the two reservoirs are shown below with a few words of introduction.
Click here to learn more about the
1832 Streatham Hill 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
Return to Map of Water Companies
Halliday S. The Great Stink of London, 1999.
London A-Z Map, 1998.
Old Ordnance Survey Maps - Brixton, Herne Hill, 1870.
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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Return to John Snow site