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An Underground Guide to Sewers

or: Down, Through and Out in Paris, London, New York, &c.

Stephen Halliday, Peter Bazalgette


A quirky yet hugely informative global guide to the magnificently designed and engineered structures that lie deep underground beneath our feet

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Lose yourself in the vast sewer networks that lie beneath the world’s great cities – past and present. Let detailed archival plans, maps and photographs guide you through these subterranean labyrinths – previously accessible only to their builders, engineers and, perhaps, the odd rogue explorer. This execrable exploration traces the evolution of waste management from the ingenious infra-structures of the ancient world to the seeping cesspits and festering open sewers of the medieval period. It investigates and celebrates the work of the civil engineers whose pioneering integrated sewer systems brought to a close the devastating cholera epidemics of the mid-19th century and continue to serve a vastly increased population today. And let’s not forget those giant fatbergs clogging our underground arteries, or the storm-surge super-structures of tomorrow.


Creative Review

'Written by historian and broadcaster Stephen Halliday, it achieves the unlikely feat of engaging readers for more than 250 pages on all aspects of human waste and water disposal and, in particular, the often-impressive infrastructure created to deal with the age-old problem of sewage. It’s no mean feat, helped by a lively style and excellent maps, drawings and archive photography '
RIBA Journal

'A call to ordure … takes a deep dive into the insalubrious shitshows of the ancient world and the subterranean infrastructure of cities'
World of Interiors

Arquitectura Viva

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Quarterbound/PLC (no jacket)

Size: 24.0 x 17.0 cm

Extent: 256 pp

Publication date: 10 October 2019

ISBN: 9780500252352

Contents List

Foreword by Sir Peter Bazalgette • Prelude: Cholera in the City • 1. Pioneers of Plumbing: I. Sanitation in the Ancient World; II. Sewage in the Streets • 2. Subterranean Infrastructures: I. The Cleansing of Paris; II. London & the Great Stink; III. Worldwide Adaptations; IV. Raising Streets • 3. Revolutions of Purity

About the Author

Stephen Halliday is a specialist in industrial history and the author of a number of books, including Water: A Turbulent History, Amazing and Extraordinary London Underground Facts and The Great Stink: Sir Joseph Bazalgette and the Cleansing of the Victorian Metropolis. He regularly lectures at Cambridge University and presented, with Michael Buerk, the TV programme ‘What the Victorians Did for Us’.

Sir Peter Bazalgette is the great-great-grandson of Victorian civil engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette.