What Happens When You Flush? The Secrets Of Sewage

“Yep, it smells about as bad as I expected.” It’s a weird thing to say about somewhere that’s been on your visit-wishlist for a while, but those were my exact words when I walked into a building affectionately known as the "sludge barn" at Crossness.The site in Thamesmead, South East London, has a long history with water and waste. In the 1800s, London’s river Thames was being used as a dumping ground for everything (and I mean, everything) produced in the city. 1858 brought with it a surprisingly hot summer, but this was not a cause for joyful celebration. The river, smothered in rotting food, animal carcasses and feces, began to smell so badly that the city literally ground to a halt. The period now known as The Great Stink was only confined to the history books when engineers, led by Joseph Bazalgette, built London’s extensive underground sewer network to transport the waste away from the city. And Crossness had a starring role – it was there that huge steam-powered engines pumped the sewage up from the sewers and released it untreated into the river.
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