What did Victorian London smell like?

The stench of overflowing dustbins, dung- filled thoroughfares, the choking soot- filled atmosphere – even the peculiar history of the public toilet – these are as much part of the (in)sanitary history of Victorian London as the more familiar story of its sewers.

Why was Victorian London smelly?

The Great Stink was an event in Central London in July and August 1858 during which the hot weather exacerbated the smell of untreated human waste and industrial effluent that was present on the banks of the River Thames.

Was Victorian London smelly?

The Great Stink, as was named the horrendous smell given off by the Thames, plagued London for a great many years during the Victorian era. Prior to the construction of the current system, the Thames was London’s sewer, full of human remains, human waste, animal waste, rubbish, industrial outflow.

How bad did London smell like in the 1800s?

In the 19th century, London was the capital of the largest empire the world had ever known — and it was infamously filthy. It had choking, sooty fogs; the Thames River was thick with human sewage; and the streets were covered with mud.

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How is Victorian London described?

The Victorian city of London was a city of startling contrasts. New building and affluent development went hand in hand with horribly overcrowded slums where people lived in the worst conditions imaginable. … This growth far exceeded London’s ability to look after the basic needs of its citizens.

Was Victorian London dangerous?

Harsh punishments faced wrongdoers; forced labour, flogging, the treadmill, transportation, hanging for a range of crimes – though seldom, in practice, for any crime but murder after 1837 (the last public hanging took place on 1868).

Is London dirty?

Cities which are densely populated can often become dirty and unhygienic. While London is obviously one of the world’s greatest cities and safe in terms of hygiene to live in or travel to, it is also regarded as one of Europe’s most unclean destinations. High air pollution is also adding to the growing problem.

Is the Thames full of sewage?

This year alone, 1.2 million tonnes of raw sewage has been dumped into the river Thames because the Victorian sewers can’t cope. Even a few millimetres of rain is enough to overwhelm the old tunnels and anything left over goes into the river.

What does London smell like?

There’s a heady aroma of car exhaust fumes, fuel and dust overpowering Londoners’ nostrils (perhaps unsurprisingly). But not far behind, the smell of the natural world – flowers, plants, trees and grass – is enveloping our noses. Meanwhile in Barcelona, the scent of food in the city is the strongest.

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What could you smell in the Victorian times?

So, smells can tell us a great deal about how past people perceived the world around them. When historians delve into the archive and start sniffing, there are five scents that waft from the annals of the 18th century with particular pungency: rose, fish, ammonia, tobacco and paint.

What is the stinkiest smell in the world?

Worst Smells on Earth

  • Surströmming. This Swedish delicacy literally means “sour herring”. …
  • Durian. Durian is a fruit native to Southeast Asia, with an odor that has been described as turpentine, rotten onions, and sewage. …
  • Nattō. …
  • Skunk. …
  • Hákarl.


Did everyone smell bad in the Middle Ages?

Asides from normal body odor, it would depend. Bathing was more common than people nowdays think and most Medieval people tried to keep clean as much was reasonable. A richer noble or merchant might also use perfumes or other such things to smell nicer while others would likely smell of their surroundings.

What smells really bad?

These Are The Worst Smells in The World, According to Science

  • Uranus. Recent research has pinned down the fact the planet smells like rotten eggs. …
  • Durian. …
  • Rafflesia arnoldii. …
  • Vieux Boulogne. …
  • Ancient excrement. …
  • The Lesser Anteater.


What was Victorian London like for the poor?

A poor Victorian family would have lived in a very small house with only a couple of rooms on each floor. The very poorest families had to make do with even less – some houses were home to two, three or even four families. The houses would share toilets and water, which they could get from a pump or a well.

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Is the East End of London poor?

We have many perceptions of the East End in Britain. This has, historically, been one of the poorest areas of London but it is also the hub of much of the city’s profits and industry.

What is Victorian London known for?

Victorian London was the largest city in the world for much of that time. … Many of London’s most famous buildings and landmarks were built during the 19th century, including Trafalgar Square, the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge and Victoria Station. The first lines on the London Underground were constructed in 1863.

Foggy Albion