A little later, but may still apply
Posted by Carolyn B on June 11, 1998 at 18:52:26:
In response to I don't suppose you can get to London to see this...., written by Carolyn B on June 11, 1998 at 18:35:03
BTW, These are just things I found when doing a Yahoo search using the keywords +Thames +history + "water supply" + London. There were over 300 hits, so you might surf around the net some as well.
This text is from the article linked below from an on-line journal devoted to plumbing (who knew?) The dates the author gives are mid-century but some of the bolded details further down may apply to Regency period as well.
By the mid-1800s the by-products of the Industrial Revolution were flowering, mixing, and foaming with the waste and stench of nearly 3 million people in London. All sewers led to the Thames, pouring through bulkheads along the shores.
For several sultry days in 1859, the Thames seethed, seeped, and nearly boiled under the burning sun of an unusually hot season. Parliament was suspended as window blinds saturated with lime chloride and other disinfectants failed to subdue the odor and revulsion. It was so revolting that one foreign newspaper bannered twin headlines to catch the calamities of the day: "India Is In Revolt, and The Thames Stinks."
Personal hygiene fared no better under such a dead-end sanitary system. Tenements swarmed with people, but there were no indoor "necessaries" for them, not even running water.
Water was drawn from pumps stationed in streets throughout the city, the water rationed and serving hundreds of people. The pumps were open only during certain hours of certain days, the water to be carried home in pots or jugs, or just tasted in a pittance of a sip.
The finer homes may have had a tin or copper bath tub. But in the early 1800s piping was still confined to the first floor, the water heated by kettles over an open fire.
Tenements loomed several stories high as space was at a premium. The buildings were erected in long rows, back to back, containing tiny-room apartments with little or no ventilation (landlords were taxed for windows). Dank and putrid latrines, if any, were on the ground floor.
Inside the house or apartment, waste was stored in a glass urinal or metal chamber until filled. Tenants usually disposed of the contents by tossing them out the doors or windows.
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