Thames River

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Thames River




One generally associates the Thames with London, however a look at the map reveals that the river covers a much longer distance. By the time the Thames had reached London, it had passed through several large cities, a few of which I have marked on the map, all of which had dumped in their copious waste after the manner described in the above entries. Wohl writes, "the great irony of the Chadwickian revolution was that as they became 'more fully sewered and drained [they] pour out continuously a much larger proportionate volume of sewage' (Wohl 234).

One must ask, How could the Victorians neglect something so important? How could they not realize that water pollution was as much of a danger as the nuisances they were so zealously cleansing away on land? Lord Salisbury offered a possible explanation: "Drainage must be put somewhere. You could not put it in the air; you could not always put it on the land; and when you could not put it on the land, you necessarily put it into the water" (238). In other words, the reformers felt that of all the possible options for waste disposal, the river was the least dangerous. However, another option also presents itself: industry required the rivers to keep their businesses running. Wohl writes, "As for the industrialists, they insisted that there was no other way to get rid of their waste products," and no one wanted to challenge such wealthy job providers in such a precarious economical climate (241).


Frances Thielman


Wohl, Anthony.  Endangered Lives.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1983.  Print.


Frances Thielman, “Thames River,” Appalachian State University, accessed December 3, 2023,

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