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Joseph William Bazalgette was born in 1819 in Clay Hill, North London. Following the cholera epidemics of the 1840s and 50s Bazalgette, as Chief Engineer to the Metropolitan Board of Works, undertook the creation of over a thousand miles of sewers under the streets of central London. The new sewers made probably the single greatest contribution to improving the health of Victorian Londoners, by finally eliminating cholera from the city. Such was his foresight and design that virtually all of Bazalgette’s system remains in use today. In addition, it physically changed the appearance of riverside London and enabled the previously lifeless and polluted Thames to once again become a habitat for wildlife.

Stephen Halliday is a writer, lecturer and broadcaster with an interest in the history of Victorian England and of the engineers who made nineteenth century cities safe and habitable. He has written for The Observer, The Guardian and Financial Times and has made several radio and television programmes based on his books.

Time Out London