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Eight things we learned down in London's sewers

A lot of sh!t goes down in the subterranean wonderland that is London's sewer system. We wrapped vlogger George Benson in a safety suit and sent him to investigate.

6 Sep 2016

If you've ever taken a poo in London city, you have Sir Joseph Bazalgette to thank for helping you dispose of the evidence.

The insanely ambitious system that the Victorian engineer built helped London stop smelling like a cesspit, and went a long way to putting an end to the plethora of diseases that plagued the city. 

Even more impressive? 150 years later, and those same sewers are still doing the business.

Quite honestly, Good Sh!t wasn't brave enough to wade knee-deep through your waste water, but thankfully YouTuber George Benson stepped up to the plate. Here's what George found out after donning some thigh-high boots and climbing down a manhole in Hillingdon.


George gets suited up with Thames Water maintenance don, Gary.

The original sewer system took 318 million bricks and 20,000 people to build.

Built in a time before mechanical drillers, the sewers were built with good old-fashioned sweat and brawn. 

The sewers were meant to service 2 million people.

And the same system now helps 10 million Londoners flush and forget. 

It doesn't actually smell that bad.

There's so much water sloshing around the sewers that you might not encounter too many floaters. So you can get away without plugging your nostrils.

There's more fat down there than your local chippy's fryer.

George's guide Gary had some advice: stick your grease into a used Coke bottle, and not down your sink.

Baby wipes too...

The racks of wet wipes that block the sewers look like your wash basket after a week at Glastonbury. Gross.


You really don't want to get an itchy nose.

If we had to estimate how many germs are lurking about the sewers, we'd say 41 kajillion. Not a good time to touch your face.

The Thames Water sewer squad are heroes.

It's hot, it's sweaty and it's hard work down there.

But it's all worth it.

Because without the hard work of the Londoners who built and serviced the sewers, killer bugs like cholera would still be rampant across the city. And it would absolutely stink.

Want to find out more dark secrets from down the drains? We asked a sewerage scientist about the most mind-boggling crap that's found in the sewers >