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  Themes Homepage > Seething Wells
The river environment
Seething Wells

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Seething Wells
The Thames passing through central London was a foul sewer by the 1840's. Water taken directly from the river was evil smelling and full of waste. Local wells were also polluted. Cholera, and other water-born diseases were now spreading through the population.

The Chelsea and Lambeth Waterworks Company, solved this problem by moving to a site known locally as Seething Wells, near Kingston. Opening in 1852, it was an excellent example of Victorian technology at work.

Mr and Mrs Hall wrote, in their "Book of the Thames," published in 1859, "The shallow wells of London cannot but be condemned as drinking waters, on account of their almost invariable contamination with sewage; the deep wells which sink into the chalk are inconveniently hard; but the Thames water at Kingston is sufficiently free from organic matter to be perfectly wholesome as a beverage, and sufficiently soft not to give rise to serious inconvenience on that account."

The water was pumped into two subsiding reservoirs, covering three acres, which could each hold ten million gallons. There, the water rested for about 6 hours before passing through two filter beds of gravel and sand, covering two acres, which could each filter ten million gallons a day.

The filtered water was then pumped up to a covered reservoir at Putney Heath, about 170 feet above the Thames, from whence it flowed into London, passing over the river in two huge iron pipes between Putney and Fulham. The average quantity of water processed in the 1850's was 6,900,000 gallons per day.
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  Themes Homepage > Seething Wells
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