Greenwich as it used to be....

Health in the city...

All drinking water came from the Thames, unless one was rich enough to buy it from tanks which were delivered to London. The result was that in the 1830's, 40's and 50's, thousands of people died from cholera and other diseases, which at the time no one connected with the drinking water. I have a letter written by my grandfather's cousin, Ann Susan Marshall, aged thirteen, to her parents in 1849. She was attending a private school in Clarence Street, now re-named College Approach, in Greenwich. It read as follows;

"My dear Parents,
It is with feelings of deepest gratitude that I desire this year to write my annual letter. We cannot forget how many families have lost some relative and how many homes have become entirely desolate by the afflictive visitation of Cholera during last Autumn. Yet I am permitted by the great mercy of Almighty God, to welcome the return of another Christmas, and to wish you every blessing with the approaching year.
I trust you will find some improvement in my writing, as well as in other branches of my education, since I addressed you, and if it should please God to spare me to mature age, I hope to prove by dutiful conduct how much I feel obliged for the tender care, and means of instruction provided by you.
Your dutiful and affectionate daughter,

The situation might have gone on for years, nobody seemed to know what to do about it, finally in 1849 a Board of Works set up, the head of which was Sir. Joseph Bazalgette, "Comes the day, comes the man", We have him to thank for designing the finest sewage system in the world. It was to save thousands of lives--for until then every person's life in the London area was shortened by twenty years!

© Albert W. Gearing

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