We’ve all heard of Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison, but have you ever heard of Harvey Hubbell? No? What about Willis Carrier? How about Hedy Lamarr? You may have heard the name Alexander Fleming at some point. Who are these people? Harvey Hubbell is the inventor of electrical sockets. Willis Carrier is the inventor of air conditioning. Hedy Lamarr helped create something called “Spread Spectrum Technology”, a precursor to Bluetooth and wifi. And Alexander Fleming is the inventor of antibiotics. Each of these inventions either changed the world or made it much better and yet most of us have never heard of these people.
Another person that falls into this unenviable list is Joseph Bazalgette, who lived in the 1800s. If you’ve never heard of this man, don’t feel bad. Like the others, most people did not learn about this important figure. Why is he important? According to this BBC article, Mr. Bazalgette was the chief engineer to London’s metropolitan board of works and designer of their efficient sewage system, which greatly reduced the recurring epidemics of cholera. In 1853-1854, more than 10,000 Londoners were killed by the disease. The hot summer of 1858 created the ‘Great Stink of London.’ Those walking along the Thames, including members of Parliament, were overwhelmed by the stench. Coupled with the cholera epidemic, Parliament drafted legislation enabling the metropolitan board to begin work on sewers and street improvements. By 1866, most of London was connected to a sewer network, and Bazalgette was at the center of it all. He was in charge of building new low-level sewers that intercepted the foul waters from old sewers and underground rivers and took them to new treatment works. This man’s work inspired other cities to follow suit and was a catalyst for the implementation of our modern sewer systems.
We at Apex certainly owe Bazalgette for his work. Without proper sewer systems, servicing underground wet utilities would be unnecessary, thus making our job obsolete. Fortunately, we do have sewer lines to work on, so our job is very necessary. If you’re dealing with a broken sewer or water line, give us a call! We may not have created the underground wet utilities system, but we understand it better than most and are happy to help in any way we can.