I visited the fascinating London Museum of Water and Steam, to see how clean water saves people from disease.
John Snow suspected that dirty water was the problem. In 1849 he wrote a paper querying whether water could be transmitting cholera, but he faced a lot of opposition. Many people, even officials, were convinced of the bad air theory. Others were keen to blame cholera on poor people. It wasn’t until 1854 that John Snow was able to prove his water theory. He followed the trail of people who fell ill with cholera, and discovered that the first person to catch it was a woman who had fetched water from a pump contaminated by cholera-infected nappies. It was only in the mid 19th century that germ theory came to be understood so that helps explain why people resisted this for so long.
Many people got their water from stand pumps, wells or rivers but as the 19th century progressed more and more Thames water was pumped into buildings.
Clean water is a necessity of life. We are mostly made of water and we call our earth ‘the blue planet’ because so much of its surface is water. Poets have always written special poems to things, people, ideas or places that they love. This kind of poem is an ‘ode’. Can you write an Ode to Water? First make a list of the things you love best about water. Each one can become a line of your poem.
Here is my list:
Pushing my hands through blue swimming pool water
Raindrops on cobwebs
Ice-cold tap water in winter
Soft dark green pond water
Saturday, 4 March 2023
Clean Water for London? by Jeannie Waudby
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