The Great British Stink

This summer, our Great British Stink exhibition - held at the London Bridge City Pier - brought together a selection of your Big History Project stories with the work of photographer Thomas Ball.

During his research into water and sanitation in Victorian Britain, photographer Thomas Ball found no shortage of records detailing the appalling living conditions in cities and towns across the country.

From a backyard privy in Van Gogh's former London home to the Longdendale Reservoir Chain in Derbyshire – the world's largest water project of its time – his photographs represent just some of the dramatic changes to water infrastructure and sanitation that took place during the 19th and early 20th century.

This summer, Thomas's photos – alongside a selection of your Big History Project stories – formed part of our Great British Stink exhibition at London Bridge's City Pier.

Shockingly, the stories in our exhibition mirrored life in many of the world's poorest countries. 

While we take it for granted that our water sources remain protected and disease-free, around the world 500,000 children continue to die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by unsafe water and a lack of toilets.

The Great British Stink showed that, with knowledge, investment and political will, it's possible for everyone everywhere to have access to clean water and improved sanitation.

Read more about our Big History Project >

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