skip to primary navigation skip to content

Water, sanitation and health in the first industrial society: Britain 1780 – 1930

Water, sanitation and health in the first industrial society: Britain 1780 – 1930

Research questions

Did sanitary conditions worsen, in long-established cities and towns, in the first half of the 19th century?

Sanitary conditions

Did the provision of piped water, municipalisation of waterworks, water filtration, sewerage and sewage treatment improve mortality rates in towns? When, where, and how?

Municipal waterworks

Why did urban public health outcomes vary spatially and chronologically, 1838 – 1911?

Variation in outcomes

What was the relationship between WaSH interventions and mortality trends in Scottish towns?

Scottish towns

Why did mortality improve in rural areas?

Rural areas

Why did diarrhoeal mortality decline with such a different pattern from other faecal-oral diseases, 1895 - 1930?

Diarrhoeal mortality

Image credits: The angel of death (a winged skeletal creature) drops some deadly substances into a river near a town; representing typhoid. Watercolour, 1912, after R. Cooper. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY; Construction of Burrator Reservoir, by R.B. Smart (1881 – 1947), photo credit The Box, Plymouth; The celebration of the opening of the waterworks in front of the George Hotel, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, by W. Millington (1810 – 1890), photo credit Trowbridge Museum; College Wynd, Edinburgh (photographer unknown), National Galleries Scotland, CC BY NC; The water carrier, by HJY King (1855 – 1924), photo credit Reading Museum & Town Hall; A seated woman in a domestic interior, bottle-feeding a baby on her knee with a little boy standing to her left. Final state. c.1880, Etching with drypoint, © The Trustees of the British Museum;