The construction of the great sewage tunnels, near Old Ford, Bow. Wood engraving, 1859, after F. Thompson.

  • Thompson, F., active 1859.
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"Early in the present year Mr. Moxon obtained the contract for the high-level sewer, at a price considerably within Mr. Bazalgette's estimate; and the rapidity with which the works have been conducted, as well as their substantial and lasting quality, are equally creditable to Mr. Moxon and to Mr. Cooper, the resident engineer. The work already executed is valued at over £50,000, and includes the construction of about 9000 feet of sewer or tunnel, varying in size from ten to twelve feet in diameter, 2000 rods of brickwork, 200,000 cubic yards of excavation, and 10,00 cubic yards of concrete, and it gives employmont to upwards of two thousand artificers and labourers. These tunnels being generally underground, it is not often that an opportunity is afforded of presenting a view of the works,which are now opened in various localities between the River Lea and Hackney. Our engraving (from a photograph by Mr. F. Thompson) represents the works immediately beyond the junction of the high and middle level gravitating sewers at a point between the North London Railway and the River Lea, near Old Ford, Bow, where these sewers emerge from high ground into the valley of the Lea, preparatory to being carried over that river by an iron aqueduct, and by an embankment across the West Ham and Barking marshes. Each of those tunnels is large enough to carry off the maximum flow of sewage which will arise from the calculated prospective increase of the population of London many years hence, together with a fall of rain upon the area drained equal to a quarter of an inch deep in twenty-four hours, in addition to that which is absorbed and evaporated; but each sewer is also provided with a storm-overflow or safety-channel underneath it, so that on occasions of heavy rains and thunderstorms, the surplus will flow over weirs provided for the purpose (into and through the storm channels) into the River Lea."--Illustrated London news, loc. cit.



Physical description

1 print : wood engraving ; image 18 x 23.8 cm


Main drainage of the metropolis. - Sectional view of the tunnels from Wick Lane, near Old Ford, Bow, looking westward.

References note

Paul Dobraszczyk, 'Sewers, wood engraving and the sublime: picturing London's main drainage system in the "Illustrated London News", 1859-62', Victorian periodicals review, 2005, 38: 349-378 (this print reproduced and discussed pp. 355-360)
Bill Bryson, Een huis vol: een kleine geschiedenis van het dagelijks leven, Amsterdam 2010, p. 376 (reproduced)


Wellcome Collection 37810i



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