How healthy were people in Islington between 1780 and 1858?
How healthy were people in Islington between 1858 and today?
The whole of Day Four consisted of a trip by each class to the London Museum of Steam and Water at Kew Bridge. This fascinating museum is housed in a Victorian pumping station by the River Thames, opposite the Royal Botanic Gardens. It contains steam pumping engines, some still in working order together with hands-on displays illustrating how London was eventually supplied with fresh running water during the later nineteenth century and how a modern sewage system was constructed. Two exhibits were particularly helpful for studying the development of public health. One is a mock-up of a full-scale London brick sewer of the time built by the great engineer Bazelgette and through which children can walk.
The other consisted of dolls houses from different periods (1660, 1780, 1890 and 1980) with props, labels and cut out figures, comparing and contrasting how water was supplied and sewage disposed of in each period.
While on site classes
- Watched and listened as museum volunteers fired up one of the museum steam engines, to explain and show how it operated
- Walked through the replica of the brick sewer
- Carefully compared and contrasted (in small groups) how water was supplied to and sewage carried away from each dolls house, how this changed over time and the health hazards posed in each period (for an example of how to lead a small group activity using the houses see Document D below)
- Viewed examples of pipes from different periods showing how water was carried in different periods, for example there is a section of a tree trunk which was hollowed out in the same way that wooden pipes were used to supply water to the Charthouse when it was a Carthusian monastery in the Middle Ages.
The contents of the museum as a whole illustrated changes in how water was used and managed as part of public health reform in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, bringing the story up-to-date into the present. As such pupils the visit reinforced prior learning from the card sort covering public health between 1780 and 1858 but also introduced new knowledge for the last period to be covered from 1858 to the present. However because of the focus of the museum pupils were learning about the supply of water and disposal of sewage as an aspect of public health, not about all developments in the period. In this way the visit combined an outline of history between the early ninetenth century and today but was also a depth study in relation to one aspect (about water supply and sewage disposal) of the overall development of public health between 1170 and the present.
For details about the London Museum of Steam and Water and about organising visits there click on this link