We’re iGas, and we do plumbing in Forest Hill. Like many areas of our capital, Forest Hill was sparsely populated until the mid 1800s, which is why so many of the homes and premises we work at date back to the Victorian era. So what would our job, as plumbers, have been like way back then, around 150 years ago?
Forest Hill in ancient times
When the Crystal Palace was moved from Hyde Park to Sydenham in 1854 the western end of Forest Hill, along with parts of Honor Oak, saw lines of big, posh homes built along London Road and Dartmouth Road. 1884 saw London’s oldest swimming pool constructed on Dartmouth Road, and the rest is history. The name Forest Hill, originally coined by a developer in the 1790s and referring to a nearby forest, finally turned fully urban.
As you can imagine, in the pre-sewer system days there was no such thing as a plumber. You’d use your chamberpot then simply chuck the contents out of the window into the street. And while the godson of Queen Elizabeth 1st , John Harington, invented the world’s first flush loo for his godmother, the flushing toilet didn’t take off for another few centuries. Apparently the queen was terrified of the contraption, which made alarming thundering noises whenever she used it.
The first valve flush toilet came into being in 1738, a gadget invented by Mr J F Brondel. And in 1775 Scotsman Alexander Cumming patented a design for a flush loo which is still used today and remains the original forerunner of the toilet we know and love.
About Victorian plumbing and heating
Until the middle of the 1800s, London was quite literally awash with raw sewerage. It was dumped direct into the river Thames, which was also used for drinking water, and before long transformed the river into a filthy, stinking mess. The city faced repeated outbreaks of cholera, one of which killed more than ten thousand people in 1853 thanks to just one contaminated water pump in Soho.
In 1854 scientist John Snow revealed the link between cholera and contaminated water, and the unusually hot summer of 1858 brought the matter to crisis point. The resulting ‘Great Stink’ kicked off legislation designed to clean the capital up, and a new era was born.
By 1866 most of London tapped into the new sewer network designed by Joseph Bazalgette, a full 82 miles of large pipes plus 1,100 miles of smaller street sewers. By 1900 the Big Stink and its like were nothing more than a horrible distant memory, infant mortality was slashed, and ordinary people enjoyed a longer, healthier life. It’s amazing to think that London’s Victorian sewers are mostly still in use, taking away the waste created by more than eight million of us.
How about central heating? Forget it. There was no such thing as central heating in Victorian times either, despite the Romans having invented something very similar aeons ago, at a time when the rebellious and primitive Brits were still busy painting their bodies blue and drinking themselves into a stupor.
Plumbing today – It couldn’t be more different
So our profession isn’t exactly ancient. But when civilised sewerage systems finally came to Britain, we popped into existence and we’ve been serving the public and business ever since.
If you need any of the following, whether you’re in Forest Hill or any of the surrounding areas, you can rest assured we’ve seen every type of eccentric plumbing and heating system on the planet, and nothing surprises us.
- Recommending, supplying, fitting, repairing, removing and maintaining combi boilers, system boilers, conventional boilers and condensing boilers
- Mending and replacing hot water cylinders
- Keeping central heating systems in good condition
- Fitting, mending and maintaining underfloor heating
- Fitting and mending all sorts of plumbing-focused wiring systems
Whether or not it’s a plumbing emergency we’ll call you back quickly, treat you like royalty and get the job done fast, at a cost that won’t make your eyes water.