Historic Pump Restored To Soho

By M@ Last edited 70 months ago

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Last Updated 23 July 2018

Historic Pump Restored To Soho

It's back! This piece of iron-mongery might not look much, but it recalls an incident on Broadwick Street, Soho that would ultimately save millions of lives.

Dr John Snow is one of the most important people who ever lived in Soho. In 1854, he mapped the homes of all the locals who had succumbed to cholera. The data clustered around a pump on Broadwick Street. He removed the pump handle and stopped the outbreak. The full story is recorded on the pump's plaque:

Yeah, we lined it up to make it look like it's dripping on purpose.

Since 1992, a replica pump has marked the precise spot where Snow made his decisive intervention. It was removed in 2015 for local development, but now it's back and in the correct location.

Snow's actions, cutting off the tainted water supply, went much further than saving local lives. Although not appreciated at first, his insight ultimately led to acceptance that the disease is water-borne, something that few believed during the Soho outbreak. His map-based approach also laid a cornerstone of epidemiology, and prefigured the rise of data journalism in our own time.

Cholera is now rare in the developed world, and that all traces back to the pump in Soho.

Not that one...