Esoteric London

No. 48: Haringey Passage, N8

Posted in Drains by esotericlondon on May 5, 2010

Haringey Passage, London, N8. Photo © Roger Dean 2009

John Phillips, surveyor of the Westminster Court of Sewers, report to Royal Commission 1847:

“I am of the opinion, that not one half of the entire filth produced in the metropolis finds its way into the sewers, but is retained in the cesspools and drains in and about the houses, where it lies decomposing, giving off noxious effluvia and poisonous sulphuretted hydrogen and other gases which constantly infect the atmosphere of such houses from top to bottom, and which, of course, the inhabitants are constantly breathing… There are hundreds, I may say thousands, of houses in this metropolis which have no drainage whatever, and the greater part of them have stinking, overflowing cesspools, and there are also hundreds of streets, courts and alleys that have no sewers; and how the drainage and filth are cleaned away and how the miserable inhabitants live in such places it is hard to tell. In pursuance of my duties, I have visited very many places where filth was lying scattered about the rooms, vaults, cellars, areas, and yards, so thick and so deep that it was hardly possible to move for it. I have also seen in such places human beings living and sleeping in sunk rooms with filth from overflowing cesspools exuding through and running down the walls and over the floors. It is utterly hopeless to expect to meet with either civilization, benevolence, religion or virtue, in any shape, where so much filth and wretchedness abounds The effects of the effluvia, stench and poisonous gases constantly evolving from these foul accumulations were apparent in the haggard, wan and swarthy countenances and enfeebled limbs of the poor creatures whom I found residing over and amongst these dens of pollution and wretchedness…. Morality, and the whole economy of domestic existence is outraged and deranged by so much suffering and misery.

[Haringey Passage sits on top of a Victorian sewer that runs through the ” Haringey Ladder” . There are a number of stink pipes along its length, (one of which you see in the above photo) which were constructed to release the gases that built up within. R.D.].

See also post No. 216