When we asked you to share your stories of taps and toilets in your local area, you surpassed all our expectations.

Big History Project logoFrom articles about cholera outbreaks to photos of well-dressing ceremonies and childhood memories of growing up with outdoor privies and newspaper for toilet roll, you've shown us how far we've come in the last 150 years – and why it's so important we make the same change happen around the world.

Life without taps and toilets

Just 150 years ago, houses in the UK didn't have taps or toilets, sewage ran through the streets and deadly diseases were rife.

It was the 'Great Stink' of 1858, when the smell of untreated sewage filling the River Thames forced MPs to leave the Houses of Parliament, that prompted change.

Seven years later a new sewer system, designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette, was introduced in London. It eliminated water-related diseases like cholera and signalled the start of similar changes across the UK, leading to improved public health, a dramatic drop in child mortality and increased life expectancy.

Right now, millions of people around the world are still living without clean water and safe toilets. But, as UK history shows, it doesn't have to be this way.

This summer, with the help of your stories, we showed MPs  that reaching everyone, everywhere by 2030 with these essential facilities really is possible – all we need is the right political will.

Find out what happened when we made Another Great Stink at Westminster >


'The Silent Highwayman’ by John Tennial for Punch in 1858.

Making change happen

Find out how ordinary people, local champions and visionaries of the time made sure we got taps and toilets in the UK 150 years ago. 

The Big History Project map

The Big History Project map

Use our interactive map to browse photos, memories and stories about the history of taps and toilets across the UK.

The Global Goals are here!

Thanks to your amazing support, world leaders have put water and sanitation at the top of the global agenda.