The Broad Street Cholera Outbreak of 1854

  • The Victorian Era
  • 2 mins

By Crusader1307

Cholera......a disease once known as an Urban Killer throughout The World, experienced a Global Outbreak for a 14 year period, between 1846 and 1860. One of the worst outbreaks in Victorian England was known as The Broad Street Outbreak of 1854. The disease was responsible for the direct deaths of over 600 persons. It would also serve a more practical means, by establishing that the disease was not spread via the air (airborne) – as was thought with other such symptoms then classed as ''Miasma''.


Cholera is a disease that attacks a Human's intestinal system, cause severe muscular cramping, sweating and fever. Death comes from dehydration of the organs from diarrhea. It is a painful death. In the 19th Century, it was assumed that such an illness was airborne, and was seen mostly in cramped urban blight. Such conditions such as poor water supply and sanitation were prime causes, both of which were quite common in Victorian London. Crowded living conditions in London's immigrant sections cause poor water treatment. The condition was prime for the bacteria that caused Cholera.


Human waste both biological and organic debris were dumped into community cesspits, This was a common method of ''waste control'' since the 15th Century in most of England. Unfortunately, City Sanitation regulations were poor and ill enforced. In many cases, months would go by until proper removal could be accomplished. This removal of debris meant transporting to The Thames River – to be dumped into the very City water supply. Water treatment facilities were few and poorly maintained. All this gave a fertile breeding ground for almost epic amounts of the bacteria.


In the summer of 1854 – it had begun. Most Residents of London's Broad Street (a teeming Section of ''Poorer London''), had heavily relied on Public Water Pumps. These common points of water reclamation were used by many thousands. The water came from the poor maintained treatment points. Soon a mass epidemic of Cholera broke out. With lack (or poor access to Medical treatment), hundreds per week were dying – mostly the elderly, young and sick.


The condition was so serious that open rioting broke out sporadically, between those family members trying to cure their sick. Police clashed regularly and at one point – The Yeomanry was even called upon. It was but for an enterprising Doctor, John Snow – who would eventually determine that the true cause of Cholera was not the airborne illness known as Miasma – but contaminated water. That same water being pumped into London neighborhoods by the gallons.


With the closing of The Broad Street Water Treatment Shed, and the cleaning of various relay points – the disease was seen to stop it's spread. The later re-working and additi0n of more water treatment facilities as well as heavily regulation dumping in The Thames – would end The Outbreak by 1858.