I've always loved trivia and researching useless and little known facts. I often spend days searching the itnernet for that one tidbit of information that grabs my interest and gives me the next story idea. The only bad thing is that I sometimes forget to write and spend hours on the computer researching.
Just the title of the article intrigued me. And in 1997, I spent weeks researching and plotting a rough draft.
Before "The Great Stink," sewage emptied into cesspits under homes or poured directly into open drainage ditches. Run-off washed into the Thames and cesspits backed up into houses. Sir Marc Isambard Brunel came up with the idea of tunneling beneath the Thames.
He submitted a plan to drain London's sewer to the lower side of the river by building a tunnel under the Thames. Work began on the original tunnel in 1825 but after several accidents and severe flooding, the tunnel was sealed in 1828.
In 1834 Parliment loaned The Thames Tunnel Company the funds to complete the project and Brunel's son Isambard Kingdom Brunel acted as chief engineer. The senior Brunel redesigned a tunnel shielding to prevent flooding and work on the tunnel began again in 1840. It was completed in 1841 and in March of that year, Queen Victoria knighted Sir Brunel.The tunnel officially opened in 1843 but the stinch continued to plague London.
After completion of the tunnel, the Metropolitan Commission of Sewers ordered all cesspits closed. House drains were then connectted to the sewer system and drained directly into the Thames. As a result, there was a cholera epidemic in 1848-1849 and by 1858 the stinch from the river became unbearable.
"The Great Stink" created new interest in Sir Brunel's sewer tunnel. Many cried, "Dilution is the solution to polution!" But adding more water to the tunnel systems didn't stop the stink. It reached its peak the summer of 1858 when thousands were forced to flee the city. But Parliament remained in session, trying to find a soultion to the problem.
Government officials and citizens who either refused to leave the city or had no country estate to go to, draped their windows with curtains soaked in chloride of lime to keep out the odors and "dangerous miasmas."
A new sewer design was needed and civil engineer Joseph Bazlgette was put in charge of the project. By combining the old with the new, he helped create a separate system for human waste and storm drains.
The Queen was so pleased with the results of the larger tunnel system, she ordered engineers to construct a rail system inside the tunnels. The sewer tunnel was quickly transformed into a promenade and tourist attraction. The tunnel still exists today and is part of London's famous underground.
Currently, I'm researching ideas for the sequel to Out of the Darkness, my paranormal vampire romance. For a creepy peak into one of the websites that inpsired part of Into the Light, see the video at:http://anc.funkybuu.net/davisvideo.html