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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 century.

Source 1

In 1868, six years after the first sewage works, a private citizen sued Bradford Corporation for polluting the River Aire. But nobody knew what to do.
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

Source 2

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 The Edinburgh Water Company was superseded by a Water Trust for the city and district in 1869.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

Source 3

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

Source 4

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."

 

 

 

 

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