Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

the beer made by the thousands of smaller brewers, and that sent to the metropolis from Burton and other places.

An account of the methods by which all this vast quantity of comestibles is collected and distributed would fill a volume. All quarters of the world send their contributions, and there are labourers in every zone tilling the land, or searching the sea.

SUPPLY OF WATER. It is supposed that the daily supply of water to the metropolis cannot be far short of a hundred millions of gallons, or about forty gallons per head per diem, the charge for which does not exceed five per cent on the rental of the houses supplied. This quantity is furnished by nine water companies, viz., 1, The New River Company ; 2, The East London Company ; 3, The Southwark and Vauxhall Company ; 4, The Lambeth Company ; 5, The West Middlesex Company ; 6, The Chelsea Company ; 7, The Grand Junction ; 8, The Kent Company ; and 9, The Woulwich and Plumstead Company. The capital embarked in these undertakings is about seven and a half millions sterling. In addition to the water supplied by these companies water is obtained in considerable quantities from wells sunk through the London clay. The great brewers obtain all their water from these so-called Artesian wells, several of which penetrate to a great depth. The Messrs. Barclay's well is 367 feet deep. The well at the Royal Mint, Tower Hill, is 400 feet deep, and one of the two wells that supply the Trafalgar Square fountains has the same depth. It is said that the water in these wells, which in no instance rises to the surface, is gradually sinking at the rate of a foot a year. Complaints having been made as to the quality of the water supplied by the London Companies, it has been proposed to obtain a supply abundantly sufficient for the requirements of the entire metropolis from some of the Welsh lakes. The cost of the scheme is estimated at from six to seven millions sterling. The quality of the London water has been much improved of late, but the organic impurities per hundred gallons still amount to from 167 to 200 grains.

Of the undertakings above mentioned, we will single out the New River as more deserving of notice for its history and extent than the others. The stream called the New River is well known to those who traverse the country to the north of London from its winding well-marked course. It commences between Hertford and Ware, at a distance of 21 miles from the Metropolis. It flows at the rate of two miles an hour, having a width of 18 feet, and a depth of 4, with a fall of 3 inches in the mile, sending a supply of water into London at the rate of 18 millions of gallons per day. The total length of its course is 381 miles, and the whole of it is open until it reaches Stoke Newington, where it is conducted by a subterranean channel of 300 yards under part of Islington. At Stoke Newington there are two reservoirs covering 38 acres. Here the water remains for a few days that the earthy particles in it may subside. The reservoir in Clerkenwell known as River Head has an extent of about 5 acres, and is placed at a height of 85 feet above the mid-tide level of the Thames. Iron pipes conduct the water thence to the houses of the lower district; that for the high services being derived from another reservoir close by in Claremont Square, 30 feet higher, into which the water is forced by steam pumps. At Highgate are two more reservoirs.

This useful undertaking was planned in the reign of James I. by Hugh Myddelton, “ citizen and goldsmith," a native of Denbigh. He began the works in April 1608, having divided the undertaking into 36 shares. When stopped for want of funds, he applied for aid to the king, who consented to defray half the expense on being made a partner. In September 1613 the affair was brought to a successful termination, and on the 29th of that month the water was made to flow into the Clerkenwell basin amidst much ceremony and rejoicing. The total cost at that time had been about £500,000. No dividend was paid until 20 years had elapsed. More capital being required, Charles I., instead of advancing it, preferred to transfer the whole of his father's interest to Sir Hugh Myddelton (he had been made a baronet in 1622), receiving instead a fixed rent of £500 a year, which rent is still paid annually by the company into the Exchequer. That interest was then divided into 36 shares, which are known as “ king's shares,” whilst the others are called 66 adventurers' shares." From first to last about a million and a half sterling have been laid out on the New River works. A single share has been sold for £14,000, and the annual net profit is put down at from £50,000 to £60,000.

Sir Hugh's family, we are sorry to say, came to poverty, and the baronetcy is extinct.

PUBLIC DRINKING FOUNTAINS.

Previous to the month of April 1859 there was not a drinking fountain for the use of the public in the Metropolis. In that month the first fountain of the kind was erected in the wall of St. Sepulchre's churchyard, City, and its utility to the poor being apparent, the movement was promoted by the Metropolitan Free Drinking Fountain Association, and has spread so rapidly that between 80 and 90 have been put up, several of them, like the first, at the expense of generous individuals. At that which stands in front of the Royal Exchange, upwards of 6000 callers have been counted in one day. It is to be regretted that so little taste has been displayed in the planning of these structures.

As to fountains of a purely ornamental character, London has little to boast of. It is generally agreed that those in Trafalgar Square are not worthy of their situation.

DRAINAGE.

The effectual drainage of any large city,so essential to the good health of the inhabitants, must always be attended with great expense, and not unfrequently with great difficulty. The extraordinarily rapid growth of the British metropolis has made the work of drainage one of continually increasing embarrassment and anxiety. Hitherto the plan adopted has been to cast the sewerage into the nearest part of the Thames, and the consequences have been most injurious to the river, and to those who dwell upon its banks. In hot and dry summers its condition has been so bad as to breed fevers amongst the neighbouring population ; and various temporary expedients have been had recourse to, at great cost, partially to remedy so lamentable a state of things. It has been calculated that about seven millions of cubic feet of sewerage were discharged daily into the river from the north bank, and about two millions and a half from the south side. This quantity is equal to a depth of 6 feet over an area of 36 acres ! Besides, the system of drainage thus attempted to be carried out was inadequate to the purpose, in consequence of the low level of the ground on the south bank, and the tidal rise of the river, which latter operated to stop for several hours a day the outflow of the sewerage. The subject of an improved system becoming at last of the first importance, was discussed at great length, and many schemes were put forward, as well as many conflicting opinions. When the Metropolitan Board o. Works was constituted by Act of Parliament (18th and 19th Victoria, chapter 120), the main drainage of London was the first and chief object to engage their attention. After much consideration, and aided by another Act passed in 1858, the board decided upon adopting a scheme which was the result of the consultations of several engineers, the chief credit being, however, due to Mr. Bazalgette. This scheme is being rapidly carried into effect, and it is supposed that the works will be completed in the course of 1863-4. The cost is calculated at three millions sterling, which is to be raised by a rate of three pence in the pound on the annual value of the property, such rate to be leviable for forty years.

The scheme consists in constructing a system of intercepting sewers on both sides of the Thames, making a total length of 72 miles. On the north side of the river there are three independ.ent arterial lines of sewers at different levels, which converge at the river Lea, and proceed thence side by side in one large embankment to Barking Creek, a part of the river below London. In this way the sewerage will be kept out of the Thames until a point 14 miles below London Bridge is reached. It will then be thrown into the river at high water, so that the ebb tide may remove it. On the south side of the river the sewerage will be similarly dealt with. The point of discharge of the south London sewage will be midway between Woolwich and Erith, a single tunnel passing under the town of Woolwich, and uniting with the high and low level sewers near Deptford Creek. The sewers have the form of tunnels made of bricks, and are for the most part concealed under ground, but those on the north of the Thames emerge from high ground on approaching the sea. Over that stream they are carried by an iron aqueduct, and across the West Ham and Barking marshes by an embankment. Each tunnel is made large, to carry off the greatest flow of sewage which a greatly increased population will occasion, as well as a fall of rain equal to a quarter of an inch in 24 hours on the area drained. Near the sea the tunnels are 94 feet in height internally, and 12 feet wide. There are to be reservoirs at the outlets, and at certain points pumping engines and machinery for

lifting the sewage of the low lying districts. The works at the Deptford pumping station, where the sewage will be lifted out of the two arterial sewers into the single outfall sewer, will be on an extensive scale. The pumping engines will have a power of 500 horses.

Scientific persons who are desirous of inspecting these gigantic works, should apply for permission to the chief clerk of the Board of Works, at the offices in Spring Gardens, Charing Cross.

FIRES.

In a city like London the losses annually occasioned by fire must be expected to be enormous. Public building after public building falls a prey to the flames. Within the last thirty years the Houses of Parliament, the Royal Exchange, and the Tower, have been destroyed. The history of the theatres is a history of fires. To guard against such losses every parish possesses two fire-engines ; and nearly every public establishment of consequence is similarly provided. The insurances offices, of course, take care to have their own engines in readiness in case of emergencies. Besides these there is the fire brigade, which costs about £25,000 a year, and has rather more than a hundred men distributed amongst nineteen stations, which are supplied with nearly 40 fire-engines, a very insufficient establishment, as is generally admitted, notwithstanding the energy and skill of the men. It is the universal custom to insure houses and combustible property in some of the numerous insurance offices which do business in London, some of which have made very large gains. Some of these offices (such as the Commercial Union) combine the business of life and marine assurance with fire assurance, but most of them attend exclusively to the last. No night passes without there being at least one alarm. The engines rattle by at full speed, and a crowd flocks to the place to see a sight which, if the fire is a large one, is very striking. A very few hours suffice to destroy property of great value. Some years are known by connoisseurs of wine as the comet years," from the fact of a good vintage having coincided with the appearance of a great tailed star ; the summer of 1861 will be known for some time as “the fire summer," from the number and magnitude of the fires that took place in London. One of them, which occurred during the month of June, ravaged a large piece of

« AnteriorContinua »