AS yet I have spoken only of the sewers of London "without the City;" but the sewers within the City, though connected, for the general public drainage and sewerage of the capital, with the works under the control of the Metropolitan Commissioners, are in a distinct and strictly defined jurisdiction, superintended by City Commissioners, and managed by City officers, and consequently demand a special notice.
The account of the City sewers, however, may be given with a comparative brevity, for the modes of their construction, as well as their general management, do not differ from what I have described as pertaining to the extra-civic metropolis. There are, nevertheless, a few distinctions which it is proper to point out.
The City sewers are the oldest in the capital, for the very plain reason that the City itself, in its site, if not now in its public and private buildings, is the oldest part of London, as regards the abode of a congregated body of people.
The ages (so to speak) of these sewers, vary, for the most part, according to the dates of the City's rebuilding after the Great Fire, and according to the dates of the many alterations, improvements, removal or rebuilding of new streets, markets, &c., which have been effected since that period. Before the Great Fire of , all drainage seems, with a few exceptions, to have been fortuitous, unconnected, and superficial.
The public sewer built after this important epoch in the history of London was in Ludgatestreet and hill. This was the laudable work of the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's, and was constructed at the instance, it is said, and after the plans, of Sir Christopher Wren. There is, perhaps, no official or documentary proof of this, for the proclamations from the King in council, the Acts of Parliament, and the resolutions of the Corporation of the City of London at that important period, are so vague and so contradictory, and were so frequently altered or abrogated, and so frequently disregarded, that it is more impossible than difficult to get at the truth. Of the fact which I have just mentioned, however, there need be no doubt; nor that the public City sewer was in , commenced in , the year after the fire.
There are, nevertheless, older sewers than this, but the dates of their construction are not known; we have proof merely that they existed in old London, or as it was described by an anonymous writer (quoted, if I remember rightly, in Maitland's "History of London"), London ""—London before the fire. These sewers, or rather portions of sewers, are severally near Newgate, St. Bartholomew's Hospital sewer, and that of the Irongate by the Tower.
The sewer, however, which may be pointed out as the most remarkable is that of Little , London-wall. It is formed of red tiles; and from such being its materials, and from the circumstance of some Roman coins having been found near it, it is supposed by some to be of Roman construction, and of course coeval with that people's possession of the country. This sewer has a flat bottom, upright sides, and a circular arch at its top; it is about feet by feet. The other older sewers present much about the same form; and an Act in the reign of Charles II. directs that sewers shall be so built, but that the bottom shall have a circular curve.
I am informed by a City gentleman— taking an interest in such matters—that this sewer has troubled the repose of a few civic antiquaries,
|some thinking that it was a Roman sewer, while others scouted such a notion, arguing that the Romans were not in the habit of doing their work by halves; and that if they had sewered London, great and enduring remains would have been discovered, for their main sewer would have been a solid construction, and directed to the Thames, as was and is the Cloaca Maxima, in the Eternal City, to the Tiber. Others have said that the sewer in question was merely built of Roman materials, perhaps discovered about the time, having originally formed a reservoir, tank, or even a bath, and were keenly appropriated by some economical or scheming builder or City official.|
The sewers of the city of London are, then, a comparatively modern work. Indeed, threefourths of them may be called modern. The earlier sewers were—as I have described under the general head—ditches, which in time were arched over, but only gradually and partially, as suited the convenience or the profit of the owners of property alongside those open channels, some of which thus presented the appearance of a series of small uncouth-looking bridges. When these bridges had to be connected so as to form the summit of a continuous sewer, they presented every variety of arch, both at their outer and under sides; those too near the surface had to be lowered. Some of these sewers, however, were in the instances connected, despite difference of size and irregularity of form. The result may be judged from the account I have given of the strange construction of some of the sewers, under the head of "subterranean survey."
How modern the City sewers are may best be estimated from the following table of what may be called the dates of their construction. The periods are given decennially as to the progress of the formation of sewers:—
Thus the length made in the years previous to was more than double all that was made during the preceding years; while in the years from to , the addition to the lineal extent of sewerage was very nearly equal to all that had been made in years previously.
This addition of feet, or rather more than miles, seems but a small matter when "London" is thought of; but the reader must be reminded that only a small portion (comparatively) of the metropolis is here spoken of, and the entire length of the City sewerage, at the close of , was but miles; so that the additions I have specified as having been made since , were more than -half of the whole. The con- structions are not included in the metage I have given, for, as the new sewers generally occupied the same site as the old, they did not add to the length of the whole.
The total length of the City sewerage was, on the , no less than miles; while the entire public way was at the same recent period, miles (containing about separate and distinct streets, lanes, courts, alleys, &c., &c.); and I am assured that in another year or so, not a furlong of the whole City will be unsewered.
"The more ancient sewers usually have upright walls, a flat or slightly-curved invert, and a semicircular or gothic arch. The form of such as have been built apparently more than years ago, is that of semicircles, of which the upper has a greater radius, connected by sloping side walls; those of recent construction are egg-shaped. The main lines are not unfrequently elliptic; in the case of the Fleet, and other ancient affluents of the Thames, the forms and dimensions vary considerably. Instances occur of sewers built entirely of stone; but the material is almost invariably brick, most commonly inches in substance; the larger sewers , and sometimes inches.
The falls or inclinations in the course of the City sewerage vary greatly, as much as from in to in , or, in the case, from a fall of feet, in the latter, of course, to times such fall, or feet per mile. There are, moreover, a few cases in which the inclination is as small as in ; others where it is as high as in . This irregularity is to be accounted for, partly by the want of system in the old times, and partly from the natural levels of the ground. The want of system and the indifference shown to providing a proper fall, even where it was not difficult, was more excusable a few years back than it would be at the present time, for when some of these sewers were built, the drainage of the houserefuse into them was not contemplated.
The number of houses drained into the City sewers is, as precisely as such a matter can be ascertained, ; the number drained into the cesspools is . This shows a preponderance of drainage into the sewers of . The length of the house-drains in the City, at an average of feet to each house, may be estimated at upwards of miles. These City drains are included in the general computation of the metropolis.
The gully-drains in the City are more frequent than in other parts of the metropolis, owing to the
|continual intersection of streets, &c., and perhaps from a closer care of the sewerage and all matters connected with it. The general average of the gully-drains I have shown to be for every mile of street. I am assured that in the City the street-drains may be safely estimated at to the mile. Estimating the streets gullied within the City, then, at an average of miles, or about a mile more than the sewers, the number of gullydrains is , and the length of them about miles; but these, like the house-drains, have been already included in the metropolitan enumeration.|
The actual sum expended yearly upon the construction, and repairs, and improvements of the City sewers cannot be cited as a distinct item, because the Court makes the return of the aggregate annual expenditure, as regards pavement, cleansing, and the matters specified as the general expenditure under the Court of Commissioners of the City Sewers. The cost, however, of the construction of sewers comprised within the civic boundaries is included in the general metropolitan estimate before given.
 Of the derivation of the word Sewer there have been many conjectures, but no approximation to the truth. One of the earliest instances I have met with of any detailed mention of sewers, is in an address delivered by a "Coroner," whose name does not appear, to "a jury of sewers." This address was delivered somewhere between the years 1660 and 1670. The coroner having first spoken of the importance of "Navigation and Drayning" (draining), then came to the question of sewers. Sewars," he said, "are to be accounted your grand Issuers of Water, from whence I conceive they carry their name (Sewars quasi Issuers). I shall take his opinion who delivers them to be Currents of Water, kept in on both sides with banks, and, in some sense, they may be called a certain kind of a little or small river. But as for the derivation of the word Sewar, from two of our English words, Sea and Were, or, as others will have it, Sea and Ward, give me leave, now I have mentioned it, to—leave it to your judgments. However, this word Sewar is very famous amongst us, both for giving the title of the Commission of Sewars itself, and for being the ordinary name of most of your common water-courses, for Drayning, and therefore, I presume, there are none of you of these juries but both know— 1. What Sewars signify, and also, in particular, 2. What they are; and of a thing so generally known, and of such general use. The Rev. Dr. Lemon, who gave the world a work on "English Etymology," from the Greek and Latin, and from the Saxon and Norman, was regarded as a high authority during the latter part of the last century, when his quarto first appeared. The following is his account, under the head "Sewers"— Skinn. rejects Minsh's. deriv. of 'olim scriptum fuisse seward à sea-ward, quod versus mare factæ sunt: longè verisimilius à Fr. Gall. eauier; sentina; incile, supple. aquarum:'—then why did not the Dr. trace this Fr. Gall. eauier? if he had, he would have found it distorted ab *(gdwr, aqua; sewers being a species of aqueduct:—Lye, in his Add., gives another deriv., viz. 'ab Iceland. sua, colare; ut existimo; ad quod referre vellem sewer; cloaca; per sordes urbis ejiciuntur:'—the very word sordes gives me a hint that sewer may be derived à '*sairw, vel *sarow, verro: nempe quia sordes, quæ everruntur è domo, in unum locum accumulantur; R. *swros, cumulus: Voss.'—a collection of sweepings, slop, dirt, &c. But these are the follies of learning. Had our lexicographers known that the vulgar were, as Dr. Latham says, "the conservators of the Saxon language" with us, they would have sought information from the word "shore," which the uneducated, and, consequently, unperverted, invariably use in the place of the more polite "sewer"—the common sewer is always termed by them "the common shore." Now the word shore, in Saxon, is written score and scor (for c = h), and means not only a bank, the land immediately next to the sea, but a score, a tally—for they are both substantives, made from the verb sceran (p. scear, scær, pp. scoren, gescoren), to shear, cut off, share, divide; and hence they meant, in the one case, the division of the land from the sea; and in the other, a division cut in a piece of wood, with a view to counting. The substantive scar has the same origin; as well as the verb to score, to cut, to gash. The Scandinavian cognates for the Saxon scor may be cited as proofs of what is here asserted. They are, Icel., skor, a notch; Swed., skâra, a notch; and Dan., skaar and skure, a notch, an incision. It would seem, therefore, that the word shore, in the sense of sewer (Dan., skure; Anglice, shure, for k = h), originally meant merely a score or incision made in the ground, a ditch sunk with the view of carrying off the refuse-water, a watercourse, and consequently a drain. A sewer is now a covered ditch, or channel for refuse water.
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|Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Articles|
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Metal Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Metal Trays, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Linen, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Curtains
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Carpeting, Flannels, Stocking-Legs, &c., &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Bed-Ticking, Sacking, Fringe, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Glass and Crockery
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Miscellaneous Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Musical Instruments
Of the Music 'Duffers'
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Weapons
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Curiosities
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Telescopes and Pocket Glasses
Of the Street-Sellers of Other Miscellaneous Second-Hand Articles
Of Second-Hand Store Shops
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Apparel
Of the Old Clothes Exchange
Of the Wholesale Business at the Old Clothes Exchange
Of the Uses of Second-Hand Garments
Of the Street-Sellers of Petticoat and Rosemary-Lanes
Of the Street-Sellers of Men's Second-Hand Clothes
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Boots and Shoes
Of the Street-Sellers of Old Hats
Of the Street-Sellers of Women's Second-Hand Apparel
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Furs
Of the Second-Hand Sellers of Smithfield- Market
|Of the Street-Sellers of Live Animals|
Of the Street-Sellers of Live Animals
Of the Former Street-Sellers, 'Finders,' Stealers, and Restorers of Dogs
Of a Dog-'Finder' -- A 'Lurker's' Career
Of the Present Street-Sellers of Dogs.
Of the Street-Sellers of Sporting Dogs
Of the Street-Sellers of Live Birds
Of the Bird-Catchers Who are Street- Sellers
Of the Crippled Street Bird-Seller
Of the Tricks of the Bird-Duffers
Of the Street-Sellers of Foreign Birds
Of the Street-Sellers of Birds'--Nests
Of the Street-Sellers of Squirrels
Of the Street-Sellers of Leverets, Wild Rabbits, Etc.
Of the Street-Sellers of Gold and Silver Fish
Of the Street-Sellers of Tortoises
Of the Street-Sellers of Snails, Frogs, Worms, Snakes, Hedgehogs, Etc.
|Of the Street-Sellers of Mineral Productions and Natural Curiosities|
Of the Street-Sellers of Mineral Productions, &c.
Of the Street-Sellers of Coals
Of the Street-Sellers of Coke
Of the Street-Sellers of Tan-Turf
Of the Street-Sellers of Salt
Of the Street-Sellers of Sand
Of the Street-Sellers of Shells
Of the River Beer-Sellers, or Purl-Men
Of the Numbers, Capital, and income of the Street- Sellers of Second-Hand Articles, Live Animals, Mineral Producions, Etc.
Income, or 'Takinags' of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Articles
|Of the Street-Buyers|
Of the Street-Buyers
Of the Street-Buyers of Rags, Broken Metal, Bottles, Glass, and Bones
Of the 'Rag-and-Bottle,' and the 'Marine-Store' Shops
Of the Buyers of Kitchen-Stuff, Grease, and Dripping
Of the Street-Buyers of Hare and Rabbit Skins
Of the Street-Buyers of Waste (Paper)
Of the Street-Buyers of Umbrellas and Parasols
|Of the Street-Jews|
Of the Street-Jews
Of the Trades and Localities of the Street-Jews
Of the Jew Old-Clothes Men
Of a Jew Street-Seller
Of the Jew-Boy Street-Sellers
Of the Pursuits, Dwellings, Traffic, Etc., of the Jew-Boy Street-Sellers
Of the Street Jewesses and Street Jew-Girls
Of the Synagogues and the Religion of the Street and Other Jews
Of the Politics, Literature, and Amusements of the Jews
Of the Charities, Schools, and Education of the Jews
Of the Funeral Ceremonies, Fasts, and Customs of the Jews
Of the Jew Street-Sellers of Accordions, and of their Street Musical Pursuits
Of the Street-Buyers of Hogs'--Wash
Of the Street-Buyers of Tea-Leaves
|Of the Street-Finders or Collectors|
Of the Street-Finders or Collectors
Bone-Grubbers and Rag-Gatherers
Of the 'Pure'-Finders
Of the Cigar-End Finders
Of the Old Wood Gatherers
Of the Dredgers, or River Finders
Of the Sewer-Hunters
Of the Mud-Larks
Of the London Dustmen, Nightmen, Sweeps, and Scavengers
Of the Dustmen of London
Of the London Sewerage and Scavengery
|Of the Streets of London|
Of the Streets of London
Of the Traffic of London
Of the Dust and Dirt of the Streets of London
Of the Street-Dust of London, and the Loss and injury Occasioned by it
Of the Horse-Dung of the Streets of London
Of Street 'Mac' and Other Mud
Of the Mud of the Streets
Of the Surface-Water of the Streets of London
Of the Master Scavengers in Former Times
Of the Several Modes and Characteristics of Street-Cleansing
Of the Contractors For Scavengery
Of the Contractors' (or Employers') Premises, &c.
Of the Working Scavengers Under the Contractors
Of the 'Casual Hands' Among the Scavagers
Of the Influence of Free Trade on the Earnings of the Scavagers
Of the Worse Paid Scavagers, or Those Working For Scurf Employers
Of the Street-Sweeping Machine, and the Street-Sweepers Employed With it
Of the Cleansing of the Streets by Pauper Labour
Of the Street-Orderlies
Street Orderlies -- City Surveyor's Report
Of the 'Jet and Hose' System of Scavaging
Of the Cost and Traffic of the Streets of London
Of the Rubbish Carters
Of Casual Labour in General, and That of the Rubbish-Carters in Particular
Of the Casual Labourers among the Rubbish-Carters
The Effects of Casual Labour in General
Of the Scurf Trade Among the Rubbish- Carters
|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