The Fatberg Is Loose At The Museum Of London
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It was the story that captured the imagination of people across the world. A fatberg weighing a colossal 130 tonnes — the equivalent of 11 double decker buses — and stretching over 250 metres blocking the sewers beneath Whitechapel. Destroyed by a mixture of water jets and pick-axes, a few small pieces of the precious fatberg were kept, to be displayed at the Museum of London. Heartwarming stuff.
What is a fatberg? It's a delicious sounding recipe consisting of 130 tonnes of wet wipes, nappies, fat, oil and so much more — all squidged together to make one near-immovable sewer blockage.
The Museum of London took Thames Water by surprise when it announced it wanted to preserve a piece of the fatberg. Not only is the museum displaying the lump of congealed fat and whatever else, but it's worth noting how much hype surrounds the monster sewer blockage.
The Museum stoked the fatberg fervour up, with a series of hilarious social media videos (see above), and has given the berg pride of place — it's one of the first things visitors see upon entering. The display is made up with some general bits of information on fatbergs in general, before diving into the ginormous Whitechapel beast.
Harrowing quotes line the walls from those who faced the fatberg in the sewers. A favourite of ours:
Nailing this fatberg was like battling a giant Harry Potter movie creature beneath the streets of London.
Then there's a dark inner sanctum where two small selections of fatberg sit behind protective glass — like shot, stuffed animals. They're both pretty cool and a little disappointing. There's not that much of them, and though that's understandable for logistical reasons, they can't match the monster that's been built up — what with all the Instagram posts and tote bags.
Both pieces have also been dried, making them a lot less gross than our inner 12 year old boy was hoping for. Check out the beautiful x-rays of the samples, they look like stunning constellations more than lumps of waste.
There's an unexpected experimental element to the display. No one has ever tried to conserve a fatberg before. Why would they? Despite being dried and placed in special plastic containers, scientists are unsure as to how much of the fatberg will remain at the end of the five months. There are still drain flies living within the 'berg, suggesting it may decompose more yet.
Another worthwhile part of the display is a section dedicated to justifying placing such a thing in a museum. The museum rightly points out the fact that it's dedicated to the highs and lows of living in a city, and this fatberg is part of that. On a more basic note, the sheer amount of interest makes it worthwhile.
Fatberg! is free to see at Museum of London until 1 July.
Last Updated 09 February 2018