SOUTHWARK AND VAUXHALL WATER COMPANY (1)




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Last Updated

07 Jun 2004

After the merger in 1845, the new Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company was in residence by the River Thames, just to the east of Battersea Park.  The picture at the right shows the location in 1854, derived from map 2 in John Snow's book. 

The appearance of the Southwark and Vauxhall site was similar in Reynolds's map of 1859. What changed, however, was the name of the bridges. In Snow's map 2, there are two bridges, one on each side of Battersea Park (the Batters Bridge and the Battersea Bridge).  The newer of the two on the east side of the park was built in 1851-8.  It was a suspension bridge with cast-iron towers.  After being completed in 1858, it was named the Chelsea Bridge in the 1859 map (see to the left), different from Battersea Bridge as shown in Snow's map 2 of 1854. 

The original Battersea Bridge is on the west side of Battersea Park, linking Chelsea with Battersea.  It was first built in 1771-2 as a wooden bridge, and then replaced in 1886-90 with a bridge of five cast-iron arches.  In addition to the correction in bridge names, the 1859 map shows the terminal built between 1854 and 1859 next to the water works for the West End and Crystal Palace Rail line. 

Following the Water Metropolis Act of 1852 (a new law), the Southwark and Vauxhall company was pressured to abandon its polluted water intake in the adjacent River Thames.  The law stated that water companies had to obtain water from above the tidal line, up river from Teddington Lock.  It took several years to comply, but by 1855 the company had constructed a new works in Hampton, a few miles upriver from the 1852 site of the  Lambeth Waterworks Company  near Thames Ditton

The works and reservoirs have remained in the same location to modern times (see map below), although no longer owned by the Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company.  Instead the operation was  taken over by the Metropolitan Water Board in 1902. 

To see the Hampton site of the Southwark and Vauxhall Company in 1894, click here

Also around 1855, the Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company established a reservoir north of Nunhead Cemetery in southeast London, and built water lines to connect both the Hampton and Nunhead locations to the main Battersea works (see Snow's map 2 below).  

While the Southward and Vauxhall Water Company made many changes during the 1850s, they occurred after 1853-54 when cholera was again epidemic in London.  During the time of the epidemic, its intake was still in Battersea area of the River Thames, and thus still contaminated with cholera and other organisms.  Discovering this provided John Snow with the opportunity of the grand experiment of 1854.   

Sources:

Jarman R. Reynolds's Map of Modern London, 1859.

Snow J. On the Mode of Communication of Cholera, 1855.

The Royal River, 1885. 

Southwark and Vauxhall (continued)

Click here to see more on the original London location of the Southwark and Vauxhall company from 1870 to present.

 

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