In the 19th century, civil engineer Joseph Bazalgette changed London forever with the construction of a sewage system. The infamously dirty city—then the largest in the world—had a strong odor, was covered in horse dung, and was fed by contaminated wells (which eventually led to the discovery that diseases like cholera could spread through water). Bazalgette created a network of pipes and pumping stations that kept raw sewage from running directly through the streets into the Thames, though proper water treatment didn’t appear until much later.
The 1865 pumping station has been under restoration since 1988, when the Heritage Lottery Fund and other players began funneling a £2.7 million (about $3.5 million) grant restoring the decaying infrastructure.
An archive photo of the site
The revamp included a museum and cafe. And guided tours even include tea and cookies with the price of admission.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the city’s last cholera outbreak, making it a fitting time to throw open the doors of one of the groundbreaking facilities that helped clean up London’s disease-ridden waters.
[h/t Daily Mail]
All images courtesy the Heritage Lottery Fund
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