30 SEP 2021

A London stink

Miasma and plastic pollution

This episode marks our two year anniversary and we celebrate in style! I recreate the 1858 Great Stink of London, a terrible smell caused by an overburdened sewerage system and unresponsive government. Anton then tells of modern day pollution - plastic dumped into the world’s oceans where it kills wildlife. One of the worst affected areas is the small atoll of Midway where the Albatross population is under threat.

Two years of podcasting

We’ve been podcasting two years and loving it. We’ve got to talk to some great people, learn lots and explore the world. We even won two highly commended awards in the MyRodeCast competition!

Top links!

The Great London stink of 1858

The Summer of 1858 was hot, very hot. The drought led to the lowering of the Thames, exposing the waste and sewerage which rotted on the banks spreading disease.

Death fills the streets

Several Cholera outbreaks during the mid 1800s killed thousands in London - bad air or miasma was thought to be the cause. The city needed a hero... Sir Joseph Bazalgette was that man!

Gentility of speech is at an end—it stinks, and whoso once inhales the stink can never forget it and can count himself lucky if he lives to remember it

City Press, 1858

Near the bridges the feculence rolled up in clouds so dense that they were visible at the surface, even in water of this kind. ... The smell was very bad, and common to the whole of the water; it was the same as that which now comes up from the gully-holes in the streets; the whole river was for the time a real sewer.

Michael Faraday

Father Thames

So bad was the smell that Father Thames became a popular satire in Punch Magazine.

Far from being spread by miasma, the illness and cholera spread via polluted, bacteria filled water. This has already been discovered by Dr John Snow but had been ignored in favour of the old theories.

Construction of the Sewers

The massive building project would take years to complete and change the face of London. Gone were the shorelines of the river and in their place the granite embankments that held the main sewer pipes. Great pumping stations were main to raise and transport the sewerage.

When the New Zealander comes to London a thousand years hence ... the magnificent solidity and the faultless symmetry of the great granite blocks which form the wall of the Thames-embankment will still remain.

The Times

Further information

Plastic Pollution

Anton looks at the terrible problem of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans. It effects not just wildlife but people too.

Micro and nano plastics

Beaches, such as those of the Midway Atoll are littered with plastic large and small.

The smaller pieces easily enter the food chain when swallowed by bird, fish and other creatures.

Further information


This transcript is automatically generated so may contain errors.