Not every city has a sewerage museum

But Manchester does. It’s one of very few in the world, surprisingly. And it’s part of the Museum of Science and Industry, MOSI.

Did you know, for example, that until the nineteenth century, sewer lines were made from tree trunks? This is where the term ‘trunk line’ comes from.

In the first half of the nineteenth century, Manchester built U-shaped sewers, like the one in the picture below at MOSI. Manchester was just about the only place to build them like this, but they were more efficient than flat bottomed sewers because they concentrated all the … ahem … sewage into the centre  – it made them self-cleaning.

U-shaped sewer, nineteenth century, Manchester

U-shaped sewer, nineteenth century, Manchester. At MOSI

Egg-shaped sewers worked just as well as U-shaped ones, but they were made of glazed stoneware and were cheaper and faster to install than brick sewers.

Egg-shaped sewer, nineteenth century, Manchester

Egg-shaped sewer, nineteenth century, Manchester. At MOSI

This man-entry sewer, which you can walk through –  was built using material from an 1830s Manchester sewer. It would have been egg-shaped originally, a false bottom has been added to make it easy to walk through.

Reconstruction of a Manchester sewer, MOSI

Reconstruction of a Manchester sewer, MOSI

It even has some stuffed rats crawling contentedly in a side drain. Did you know that sewer rats, which were common in the nineteenth century, could easily leave the sewers and go into houses in search of food? That’s a nice thought to leave with, isn’t it? Dirty great sewer rats, carrying disease and pestilence.

Spot the sewer rats in a side-drain

Spot the sewer rats in a side-drain

***Note: I am living in Manchester for three months until Christmas, so blog posts will have a northern hemisphere flavour for the next little while. Enjoy!

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One Response to Not every city has a sewerage museum

  1. blog says:

    Thanks for the amazing read! Loved it! 😀

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