BAZALGETTE, Sir Joseph William (1819-1891)
Plaque erected in 1974 by Greater London Council at 17 Hamilton Terrace, St John's Wood, London NW8 9RE, City of Westminster
Engineering and Transport
SIR JOSEPH WILLIAM BAZALGETTE 1819-1891 Civil Engineer lived here
Much of the London we know today was built by the civil engineer Sir Joseph William Bazalgette. He is most famous for designing a new and extensive sewage system in response to the ‘Great Stink’ of 1858.
Born in Enfield, Bazalgette spent his teenage and young adult years in St John’s Wood at 17 Hamilton Terrace – the only one of his London residences to survive. The brick villa was his family home from about 1831, when the house was newly built, until about 1844.
Bazalgette was apprenticed as an engineer in Ireland before entering the service of the Metropolitan Commission of Sewers in London in 1849. As Chief Engineer to the Metropolitan Board of Works from 1856 until his retirement in 1889, he was responsible for the design and construction of some of the most important components of London’s infrastructure.
THE ‘GREAT STINK’
In the 1850s London’s sewage drained directly into the Thames, causing foul odours and frequent outbreaks of disease. In 1858 a hot summer led to a crisis known as the ‘Great Stink’, which forced action. In a remarkably short space of time – from 1858 to 1875 – Bazalgette developed and built a comprehensive and extensive new sewage system. His treatment works, pumping stations and more than 80 miles of intercepting sewers remain in full use today.
EMBANKMENTS AND THOROUGHFARES
Bazalgette’s many other works included the construction of the Albert, Victoria and Chelsea embankments, the design of river crossings such as Hammersmith Bridge, and the building of new thoroughfares, among them Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road.