The backbone and arteries of a modern city or town are the essential sewers and water pipes that make our modern lifestyle possible. How did this come about and what was life like beforehand? Hopefully both of these questions will be answered in the following history of local water supply.

Victorian England, like its modern counterpart was full of inequalities. We are familiar with many of the surviving photographs showing delightful street scenes and wonderful buildings. Few photographs showing the other side of life have survived. Often within a few hundred yards of the Victorian splendor, areas of abject poverty and squalor could be found, where disease was common and the lack of sanitation caused serious problems to the inhabitants. The solution to the problem was not only the removal of the overcrowded slums, but the provision of a clean and plentiful supply of water and a good sewage system.

All of this took a long time to happen, partly because it was difficult to get the required Bills through Parliament, to authorise the necessary work that had to be done. Wolverhampton Council even found the bailiffs knocking on the Town Hall doors, when debts incurred from the failure of a Parliamentary Bill, could not be paid.

This is a complex story and an important one. Without modern sewers and a good water supply, our relatively healthy lifestyle and long life expectancy, would not exist.

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