Dirty Old London - The Victorian Fight Against Filth is a history and a monument to all the people who agitated, bickered, invented, planned, obs Sometimes when writing reviews, the reviewer ends with who ought to read the book in question. Dirty Old London - The Victorian Fight Against Filth is a history and a monument to all the people who agitated, bickered, invented, planned, obstructed and constructed in London from the end of the 18th century to the beginning of the 20th century.
The book is divided into chapters regarding which type of filth and nuisance it is dealing with, which gives us separate chapters on subjects like sewage, soot, wretched housing and household refuse. This may seem arbitrary to more important subjects in society, but I think upon reading this book, everyone can agree that one of the foundations of society is that the filth and dirt humans produce and we produce a lot are dealt with in an organised fashion.
Dirty Old London
If not, well, the evidence of what that does to our health and very lives is there in history. A lot of that, too, is dealt with in the appropriate chapters, and we gain quite a lot of insight into how the Victorians of the 19th century slowly began to link poor sanitation to poor health and increased mortality. What is more, the book also provides a unique insight into how the politics of the time, both on the national and various local levels, interaction to help, and often hinder, the development of modern sanitation.
The greatest testament to the ingenuity, creativity and belief in progress of Victorian London is perhaps Joseph Bazalgette's great sewer network, built in the late s and early s. In fact, these sewers remain still standing and serving London in this day and age. While some may laugh at this as there are far more interesting and much prettier works of architecture and construction, Bazalgette's and the Metropolitan Board of Works' sewers were both monumental for its time and have stood the test of time better than almost anything else constructed, with the proof in the pudding: they are still used to this day and age, over years later, in the same fashion.
Perhaps surprisingly, this book on filth and the efforts to clean it up is one of the most convincing political statements I have ever read. It is almost completely free of ideology, apart from perhaps some small bits where the writer seems impressed by George Bernard Shaw, which seems to be a completely natural and sensible stance to take in me eyes; no, instead it is the documentation of the political bickering and back-and-forth that speak louder than anything else. The political responsibilities when it came to city planning and oversight were largely left to local vestries and paving boards; local government dealing with their own areas which parliament rarely meddled in.
As London grew, the filth accumulated, cesspools overflowed, soot filled the air, yet the local authorities were more concerned with their own income and power and refused to relinquish anything to central authority. Coupled with laissez faire capitalism, this created a huge inertia which took decades to overcome, and in the meantime, London got dirtier, filthier and more unhealthy to live in.
If anything could convince those promoters of the great qualities of local government to drop those huge axes they are grinding and support stronger centralised government, this should be it. Here, it is at times an actual matter of life and death that strong, collective action is taken, yet the different local government are as always dependant on their citizens and their purchasing power, making the rich more comfortable and the poor not only condemned to a life in discomfort, but one where the very environment they live in threaten their lives.
Of specific interest to today's decision makers should be the chapter on Wretched housing, which deals with how housing for the less fortunate looked before the advent of social housing. As we are again, in today's world, back to a society in which social housing built at a loss to the state is an ugly and shameful thing and even potentially illegal , it is worth looking back at history and how people lived in society where capitalism dictated the rules of the day.
And it ain't pretty. To conclude, this is a very interesting book on an often forgotten subject: filth, and its accumulation. While the difficulties our sanitation-minded ancestors faced in their fight against filth were many and varied, one cannot help but admire their fortitude, ingenuity and thoroughness. Without some of these people, London and other parts of the UK would be very different places today. If nothing else, they helped save numerous lives which would otherwise have been lost to diseases such as cholera and typhus.
If you would excuse me, I am now going to scrub my kitchen with lime and then fumigate my house to get rid of the build-up of miasma. View all 3 comments. Jun 16, Peter rated it it was amazing.
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For anyone who has interest in the underbelly of 19C London and everybody who enjoys a tightly researched, well-written and engaging book, Lee Jackson's Dirty Old London: The Victorian Fight Against Filth is a must read. This is a remarkable book because Jackson is able to weave a massive amount of research into a very readable format. The fact that Jackson, on occasion, interjects humour and wry comments on topics such as rotting corpses, human waste and countless reasons for disease is a testam For anyone who has interest in the underbelly of 19C London and everybody who enjoys a tightly researched, well-written and engaging book, Lee Jackson's Dirty Old London: The Victorian Fight Against Filth is a must read.
The fact that Jackson, on occasion, interjects humour and wry comments on topics such as rotting corpses, human waste and countless reasons for disease is a testament to his skill as both a researcher and a writer. One of the great strengths of this book, besides its very readable format, is the extensive footnotes gathered at the end of each chapter.
By working with so many primary sources, Jackson is able to lead the reader through the muddy, foggy stench of London's streets and make the ramble enjoyable rather than an oppressive research paper. In addition, there are pages and pages of bibliography to assist the reader in further inquiry. This book is a must read for anyone who enjoys Victorian history or the Victorian novel. View all 4 comments.
Not one to read after you have eaten! Whilst not a subject for the faint hearted Lee Jackson describes the filth and squalor of Victorian London with great humour. If you like your Conan Doyle, Dickens or family history research then this gives you real insight into the true living conditions of Londoners prior to any real efforts at sanitation. The story of reform is a fascinating one and Jackson pieces the story together with combinations of primary sources, political machinations and some unbeli Not one to read after you have eaten!
The story of reform is a fascinating one and Jackson pieces the story together with combinations of primary sources, political machinations and some unbelievable personalities. A great snapshop of the grimmer side of Victorian life Jan 30, Stacy Bell rated it it was ok. I'm half way through this. It's so freakin' dry This is really not for the casual reader in my opinion. I'm fascinated by the gross stuff but so NOT interested in everything Mr.
P did and said that failed so Mr. Q decided to do this and so on and so forth. I will finish this though Dec 14, Dna rated it it was amazing Shelves: , hardcover , library , history , staff-pick-koren. Extended review pending. I still have to go through the Notes and Bibliography.
This was so much fun to read.
I love books on the history of cities, sewer systems, plumbing, public health. One of my favourite history books ever is a micro history called Poop Culture. I loved Dirty Old London. What a putrid magical place. Jun 01, Sud rated it liked it Shelves: history. A Lady in Victorian London, wearing the typical "train" to the dresses of Victorian time, found the following in her dress after walking: ".. This book details the struggle A Lady in Victorian London, wearing the typical "train" to the dresses of Victorian time, found the following in her dress after walking: "..
This book details the struggles of the Victorian era London in trying to clean up the city. From covering the dustmen to dealing with mud, nightsoil and dust this book can be sometimes unpleasant, but it is an interesting look at the issues facing Victorian London and the measures they took to combat it. There is interesting tidbits about the economic value of mud and dust, not to mention the various jobs that came into being to combat refuse.
The book can sometimes lean towards the dry, but that is understandable considering the topic. Still, it is a great view of the various issues plaguing London.www.depozituldepublicitate.ro/libraries/91-come-comprare.php
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Makes you appreciate the saying "E Pulvere Lux Et Vis" From dust, light and power , which was emblazoned on a new factory in in London that converted some refuse into power. An interesting addition to the history section of my library. While not for everyone, anyone interested in Victorian London's fight against refuse will appreciate this book. Oct 09, Clare rated it it was amazing. In the few moments I have had over the past six weeks to read for pleasure, I have been finally!
This book has all the best In the few moments I have had over the past six weeks to read for pleasure, I have been finally! This book has all the best thing one looks for in a book about Victorians at least if one is me —petty political dramas, bizarre personalities, lots of excerpts from primary sources with all the weird spelling and punctuation intact, some people dying horribly, overblown moralizing, old cartoons, racist garbage about the Irish that I can get insulted at, and old photographs of people with majestic moustaches.
The book is quite sensibly organized into categories of filth rather than straight chronological order, making it essentially a series of smaller, more tightly-focused history explorations, rather than one big sprawling narrative on London filth. Chapter subjects include garbage collection, human sewage, soot, slum housing, street mud, public toilets, and—my favorite, unsurprisingly to anyone who knows me and my tastes in weird history reading—cemeteries and corpse disposal.
This is a choice I approve of one hundred thousand percent; I honestly think something would be lost if the style were Americanized at all. British people and their quaint notions of public infrastructure! Does this make me a huge nerd?
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View 1 comment. Sep 29, Killian rated it it was amazing Shelves: netgalley. What a completely fascinating book!
Post Victorian Era America and England is my absolutely favorite time period to learn about, and though this takes place place a bit before that roughly from the 's's I have still come across mentions of how vile a place London was to live in and visit during this time. This book went in depth discussing the reasons why it was so filthy, and how the lack-luster "sanitation movement" tried to fix some of these issues with mixed success.
And I mean in What a completely fascinating book! And I mean in depth. The one area I might complain about is just how much detail you get on the political dealings that went along with trying to push these improvements through. Not that they weren't important and fun to read about, but there were a couple of spots where I felt a bit bored by exactly how much detail was being given that didn't necessarily have to do with the main point of the piece.
Even so, the topics covered are wide and varied and could honestly be read by themselves for the most part though most chapters mention Chadwick who was heavily involved in a lot of the issues. For example, Lee Jackson covers: - The dust, mud and other nastiness on the roads. Probably my favorite chapter! It's incredible how reluctant they were to create these "conveniences"!
This was obviously worse in the north of England, but in London it was pretty bad as well apparently. Probably the least successful chapter for me personally. So all-in-all this was an absolutely fascinating read, and I would highly suggest it to anyone who is interested in the subject or the time period. Otherwise, you probably wouldn't enjoy it because it is quite dry, and not in narrative form, but it truly is an interesting time in history.
Mar 11, Peter Mcloughlin rated it really liked it Shelves: complexity , technology , to , biology , world-history , european-history , coldwar , medicine , politics , to Cities like London in the 19th century were filled with filth of both animal and human wastes into was not uncommon for disease and dirt were rampant. Through thematic chapters, Jackson describes how Victorian reformers met with both triumph and disaster. Full of individual stories and overlooked details-from the dustmen who grew rich from recycling, to the peculiar history of the public toilet-this riveting book gives us a fresh insight into the minutiae of daily life and the wider challenges posed by the unprecedented growth of the Victorian capital.