The Victorian battle against dirt
A talk by Dr Tom Crook
How did we get from the cesspools of the medieval period to the sewerage systems of today? The answer owes a lot to the engineering ingenuity and ambition of the Victorians. As Britain’s towns and cities put on ever more demographic weight during the nineteenth century, it was they who found the solution in the building of vast, hyper-complex subterranean systems and outfall works. We have come to take these systems for granted, but we shouldn’t – the Victorians struggled long and hard, amid numerous failed experiments, before they eventually settled on the infrastructure we rely on today.
Dr Tom Crook is Senior Lecturer in modern British history at Oxford Brookes University. He is currently writing a history of political corruption in modern Britain, from the 1832 Reform Act up to the 2016 Brexit referendum.
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