People buried here
John Doulton and George Jennings: disease and sanitation in Victorian London.
Victorian London was not a healthy place to live. Parliament decided to try to solve the problem of dangerous and unhealthy cesspits under houses by diverting sewage into the Thames. At times the smell from the river was unbearable, and the drinking and washing water became impossible to use. Tuberculosis and typhus fever outbreaks, increased significantly in the nineteenth century due to overcrowding, poor housing conditions, low wages and standards of nutrition, ignorance, and lack of effective medical treatment. Influenza or ‘flu’ was a much more serious illness then. Scarlet fever was responsible for nearly 20,000 deaths in Britain in 1840.Epidemics of cholera struck London from 1832 onwards. It originated in Bengal, India, and arrived in Durham, England, in 1831. At that time nobody understood that it was carried in dirty water.
The 1854 Broad Street cholera outbreak was a severe outbreak of cholera that occurred near Broad Street (now renamed Broadwick Street) in Soho district of London, England in 1854. This outbreak is best known for John Snow's discovery that cholera is spread by contaminated water. The germ theory was not widely accepted by this time, so Snow was unaware of the mechanism by which the disease was transmitted, but evidence led him to believe that it was not due to breathing foul air. By talking to local residents he identified the source of the outbreak as the public water pump on Broad Street (now Broadwick Street). Snow's study was a major event in the history of public health, and can be regarded as the founding event of the science of epidemiology.
In 1826 John Doulton (1793 – 1873), along with John Watts who is buried nearby, founded the pottery in Lambeth bearing his name, a brand still well known today.
The firm was later much expanded by his son Henry Doulton, who is also buried in Norwood Cemetery. John Doulton developed glazed pottery sewage and waste pipes.
He undoubtedly contributed to a greatly improved sewage system in London and the provision of clean drinking water brought an end to cholera. The Victorian sewage system in London was built to last, and is only now beginning to be replaced.
George Jennings (1810 to 1882) was a sanitary engineer. His firm manufactured and installed the toilets at the Great Exhibition held in Hyde Park in 1851. He installed his Monkey Closets in the Retiring Rooms of The Crystal Palace. These caused great excitement as they were the first public toilets and during the exhibition 827,280 visitors paid one penny to use them and for this they got a clean seat, a towel, a comb and a shoe shine, hence the euphemism "to spend a penny". He installed toilets in hospitals in the Crimea, at the request of Florence Nightingale and he pioneered public conveniences. One of the few surviving examples is the Gentleman's Convenience at Wesley's Chapel, City Road, London built in 1891 and restored in 1972.
To find out more about the development of sanitation in Victorian times go to the Making the Modern World and The secret Life of the Home
galleries at the science museum.