Dealing with Sewage
In the modern world it is common knowledge that dirt and disease are
linked. In the early phases of the Industrial Revolution though, this
was not scientific fact. Until pasteur developed and proved his Germ Theory,
all that campaigners could do was make links and offer suggestions based
on statistics. These were questioned by some and dismissed by others.
Therefore dealing with sewage wasn't something that was always a priority.
Rapidly constructed abodes and overcrowded city slums compounded this
fact and led to a sanitation crisis in many towns and cities. This was
eventually dealt with by Health Boards, though not until the latter stages
of the 19th century in many places.
These sources look at sewage and sanitation in Bradford during the 19th
In 1868, six years after the first sewage works, a private citizen sued
Bradford Corporation for polluting the River Aire. But nobody knew what
Then, in 1874, work began on a sewage purification plant at Frizinghall.
It worked, but wasn’t able to keep up with the rush. 20,000,000
gallons of effluent a day was too much for a 38-acre processing site.
Something, clearly, was needed on a grander scale.
It was found in 1906. After long negotiation, the Corporation bought the
Esholt estate of 1,900 acres and began to learn a new science and art
- that of sewage and sanitation - to deal with what was acknowledged as
some of the most difficult waste in the world at that time. There was
also a major piece of civil engineering required - a tunnel to link Frizinghall
with Esholt. Work on the boring started in 1913 but was interrupted by
the First World War. It resumed afterwards but was a slow process.
Telegraph and Argus
Corporation takeovers took place in Manchester (1847), Leeds (1852) and
Bradford (1854). The Edinburgh Water Company was superseded by a Water
Trust for the city and district in 1869. The Nottingham Waterworks Company
remained in private hands until 1880, when it was compulsorily purchased
under the 1879 Improvement Act. The nine London water providers remained
in place, despite frequent debate about buying them out, and it was not
until 1902 that London’s water finally passed into the hands of
the Metropolitan Water Board. http://www.lboro.ac.uk/well/resources/Publications/Briefing%20Notes/BN%20Learning.htm
In the course of last week I have visited some of the most filthy and
wretched abodes that the mind of man can conceive, in which misery of
the lowest description was personified. In a portion of this town called
the Leys,there are scores of wretched hovels, unfurnished and unventilated,
damp, filthy in the extreme, and surrounded by stagnant pools, human excrement
and every thing offensive and disgusting to 'sight and smell'. No sewers,no
drainage, no ventilation. Nothing to be seen but squalid wretchedness
on every side, and the features of the inmates show a perfect and unmistakable
index of their condition: all this is to be seen in the centre of this
of this wealthy emporium of the worsted trade
Bradford Observer 16th October 1845
A letter to the General Board of Health in London, dated 5th December
1851, written about Bradford, states:
"The inhabitants have for sometimes past been greatly injured in
the matter of health, as well as seriously inconvenienced by a want of
water, and the drains and sewage are in a sad state."