London Labour and the London Poor, volume 2

Mayhew, Henry


Of the Cost of Constructing the Sewers and Drains of the Metropolis.


THE money actually expended in constructing the miles of sewers and miles of drains, even if we were only to date from , is not and never can be known. They have been built at intervals, as the metropolis, so to speak, They were built also in many sizes and forms, and at many variations of price, according to the depth from the surface, the good or bad management, or the greater or lesser extent of jobbery or "patronage" in the several independent commissions. Accounts were either not presented in "the good old times," or not preserved.

Had the miles of sewers to be constructed anew, they would be, according to the present prices paid by the Commissioners—not including digging or such extraneous labour, but the cost of the sewer only—as follows:—

 366 miles of sewers of the first class, or 1,932,480 feet, at 15s. per foot . . . . . £ 1,449,360 
 366 miles, or 1,932,480 feet of the second class, at 11s. per foot . 1,062,864 
 Same length of third class, at 9s. per foot . . . . 869,616 
 Total cost of the sewers of the metropolis . . . . . £ 3,381,840 

As this is a lower charge than was paid for the construction of more than -fourths of the sewers, we may fairly assume that their cost amounted to from millions and a half to millions of pounds sterling.

The majority of the house-drains running into the sewers are brick, and seldom less than inches square; sometimes, in the old brick drains, they are some inches larger, and in the very old drains, and in some years old, wooden planks were often used instead of a brick or stone construction, for the sake of reducing cost, and replaced when rotted. The wood, in many cases, soon decayed, and since no wooden sewers have been allowed to be formed, nor any old ones to be repaired with new wood; the work must be of stone or brick, if not pipeage. About -thirds


of the drains running from the houses to the sewers are brick; the remaining tubular, or earthenware pipes. The cost, if now to be formed, would be somewhat as follows:—

 1893 1/3 miles of brick drains, 5s. per foot, as average of sizes . . £ 2,499,200 
 945 2/3 feet of tubular drains, average of sizes 2s. 6d. . . . 624,800 
 Total cost of the house-drains of London . . . . . £ 3,124,000 

The cost of the street or gully drains have still to be estimated.

The present cost of the -inch gully-pipe drains is about a foot; of the -inch, Of the proportionate lengths of these classes of street-drains I have not been able to gain any account, for, I believe, it has never been ascertained in any way approaching to a total return. Taking miles, however, as quite within the full length of the gully-drains, and calculating at the low average of the foot for the whole, the total cost of the street-drains of the metropolis would be , or, I am assured, might say a million sterling, and this, even if all were done at the present low prices; the original cost would, of course, have been much greater.

Hence, according to the above calculations, we have the following

 1100 miles of main covered sewers 3,500,000 
 2840 miles of house-drains . . 3,000,000 
 1200 miles of gully or street drains 1,000,000 
 ----   --------- 
 5140 miles of sewers and drainage= 7,500,000 
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 Title Page
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Live Animals
Of the Street-Sellers of Mineral Productions and Natural Curiosities
Of the Street-Buyers
Of the Street-Jews
Of the Street-Finders or Collectors
Of the Streets of London
Of the London Chimney-Sweepers
Of the London Chimney-Sweepers
Of the Sweepers of Old, and the Climbing Boys
Of the Chimney-Sweepers of the Present Day
Of the General Characteristics of the Working Chimney-Sweepers
Sweeping of the Chimneys of Steam-Vessels
Of the 'Ramoneur' Company
Of the Brisk and Slack Seasons, and the Casual Trade among the Chimney- Sweepers
Of the 'Leeks' Among the Chimney-Sweepers
Of the Inferior Chimney-Sweepers -- the 'Knullers' and 'Queriers'
Of the Fires of London
Of the Sewermen and Nightmen of London
Of the Wet House-Refuse of London
Of the Means of Removing the Wet House-Refuse
Of the Quantity of Metropolitan Sewage
Of Ancient Sewers
Of the Kinds and Characteristics of Sewers
Of the Subterranean Character of the Sewers
Of the House-Drainage of the Metropolis as Connected With the Sewers
Of the London Street-Drains
Of the Length of the London Sewers and Drains
Of the Cost of Constructing the Sewers and Drains of the Metropolis
Of the Uses of Sewers as a Means of Subsoil Drainage
Of the City Sewerage
Of the Outlets, Ramifications, Etc., of the Sewers
Of the Qualities, Etc., of the Sewage
Of the New Plan of Sewerage
Of the Management of the Sewers and the Late Commissions
Of the Powers and Authority of the Present Commissions of Sewers
Of the Sewers Rate
Of the Cleansing of the Sewers -- Ventilation
Of 'Flushing' and 'Plonging,' and Other Modes of Washing the Sewers
Of the Working Flushermen
Of the Rats in the Sewers
Of the Cesspoolage and Nightmen of the Metropolis
Of the Cesspool System of London
Of the Cesspool and Sewer System of Paris
Of the Emptying of the London Cesspools by Pump and Hose
Statement of a Cesspool-Sewerman
Of the Present Disposal of the Night-Soil
Of the Working Nightmen and the Mode of Work