How Did the Victorian Sewers Keep Their Sewers Clean?
In short, they generally didn’t. The problem was that since the city of London and others had sewers that dated back to Roman and medieval times the sewers were often clogged and not cleaned on a regular basis and they certainly didn’t have access to CCTV Drainage Surveys like those offered today from Wilkinson Environmental to find out what the issues were. This is because the sewers in London depended on water from rivers. Because of this, the sewers would become a breeding ground for bacteria and other harmful organisms, which in turn produced dangerous toxins when they were released into the air.
So how did the Victorians keep their sewers clean? Well, they would employ navvies to clean them although obviously not on a near as regular basis as we do them today. However, they still did a very good job cleaning them and maintaining the cleanliness of the city. In fact, they were a great help to experts in sewage engineering and helped create the modern sewage system that we use today.
It wasn’t until the huge influx of workers to the city and towns became too much for the system to cope that the municipal authorities did anything about it. Outbreaks of Typhoid and Cholera, plus the general unhealthy life that unclean water brings, was a great hit on the working populace. As the factories and mills depended on this flow of human beings to keep the wheels of industry turning it was clear that they would have to have better facilities or else productivity would suffer. So that’s why the Victorians began to build better systems. Not through care but rather through the protection of profits.