The Thames river was viewed with great concern by many during the mid-nineteenth century.  Shown at right is a cartoon from 1850 that appeared in Punch, commenting about the quality of the London water.  In 1855, the distinguished scientist, Michael Faraday, wrote to the editor of the The Times: "Sir, I traverse this day, by steam boat, the space between London and Hungerford Bridges, between half past one and two o'clock; it was low water and I think the tide must have been near the turn.  The appearance and the smell of the water forced themselves at once upon my attention. The whole of the river was an opaque, pale brown fluid."  He concluded, ..."the... river was for the time a real sewer."  This same river a few years earlier had supplied drinking water to the Lambeth Waterworks Company. 

John Snow wrote that the intake for the Lambeth company is on the River Thames, opposite the Hungerford Market and near where Faraday had made his scathing observations.  The exact location, however, was not marked in map 2 from 1854 (see right).  At that time, the Hungerford Bridge was a suspension bridge, mainly for foot traffic serving the Hungerford Market 

In the Reynolds' map of 1859 (see below at right), there is also no specific markings of where the intake pipe for the Lambeth company might have been. The word "road" at the bottom right refers to Belvedere Road.

During 1845-64, the Hungerford Bridge was being replaced with a wider railroad bridge, which also incorporated a footbridge.  At the time, the railroad company justified the demolition of the Hungerford suspension bridge by arguing that the smell of the river was so bad, especially in the summer, that no one used the bridge. 

Perhaps building the railroad bridge put further pressure on the Lambeth Waterworks Company to relocate its water intake, as was done during 1847-52.

Additional details of the area were provided in the first Old Ordnance Survey, published in 1872.  Included in the figure at right is a diagram of where the pipeline had probably been location years earlier. The Lion Brewery was a storehouse for the beer company built in 1836.  The Lion Brewery itself was on Broad Street, and was mentioned by John Snow in his investigation of the Broad Street pump outbreak as a place were there was no cholera.  

Lambeth Intake Prior to 1852 (continued)

Click here to see more on the location of the pre-1852 intake of the Lambeth Waterworks Company.


Halliday S. The Great Stink of London, 1999.
Reynolds J. Map of Modern London, 1859.
Snow J. On the Communication of Cholera, 1855.
Weinreb B, Hibbert C. The London Encyclopaedia, 1993.

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