In 1858 the situation regarding London’s drainage and water supply was becoming critical. The old sewer system was either non-existent or it was using a medieval and in some cases Roman system. A dry hot spell has meant that nothing was flowing Thames wise and a build up waste was threatening to engulf the city. The smell was horrendous and could not be escaped. Even parliament had to take notice when the thick carbolic soaked sheets they put about could not mask it. If it happened now, say with a Blocked Drains Dartford situation, there are companies that can deal with it. Back then they had to turn to one man who had a plan.
Joseph Bazalgette was a civil engineer and a chief of the London’s Metropolitan board of works. He saw the issue immediately and knew exactly what he had to do. The entire system of London’s sewer system needed to be replaced. There could be no question of cost being raised, if the issue was to be resolved it would need a major overhaul.
His solution was simple but it would take a large job to complete it. The city had to construct a new sewer system from scratch that would cover 82 miles in total. This would be underground, not open and lined with brick. This would be the first stage. The second was an even larger job. There was one thousand one hundred miles of drains to take the sewage outflows. This would mean it did not have to flow through the streets anymore.