Soho, John Snow and Cholera

In Soho’s Broadwick Street there is a pub called the John Snow.

The John Snow

So who was John Snow?

Well he’s the chap who worked out that cholera was caused by bacteria from water polluted by human waste. You see back in the early 1800’s most physicians believed that diseases were caused by something called miasma or to put it bluntly bad air. So when in 1854 there was an outbreak of cholera in Soho, no one was surprised as there was not only lots of poo going into the River Thames, but also cesspits dug below most of London’s houses and loads of horse shit on the streets all contributing to what was known as ‘the great stink’.

Snow was puzzled by why outbreaks of the disease were concentrated in certain London areas and by a process of elimination that would have done Sherlock Holmes proud, he discovered that most of the Soho cases were concentrated around Broad Street (now Broadwick Street) and that one group of local people were strangely immune. These were the brewery workers and Snow’s research showed that they only drank beer. Putting these facts together Snow worked out that something was contaminating the water at he local pump. He managed to convince the local council to remove the pump’s handle which forced the locals to use a different well for their drinking water and the cholera epidemic was cleared up

Close to the pub this here pump is a memorial to Snow.

Water pump memorial to John Snow

It’s not the original pump, that used to be just outside the pub, where its position is marked on the pavement. Funny thing is Snow never touched a drop for most of his life, still we have him (amongst others) to thank for helping to provide London with decent sanitation, so I will have a drink for him.

The pub got itself a bad reputation when the landlord threw a strop about same-sex couple kissing (c’mon its in mega gay-friendly Soho of all places). From choice I don’t use it because it’s one of those Sam Smith’s boozers that has no real ale and I can’t stand their fizzy keg beers and lagers.

3 thoughts on “Soho, John Snow and Cholera

  1. Know what you mean re their beer offering but at just over a couple of quid for a pint, its not too bad though prefer the one on Brewer Street – though given the choice and a bit of cash, Coach and Horses or the French House.

    • The Coach is probably my favourite pub in the known universe, but I’m also a fan of the French House, De Hems before it gets too busy and the Newman arms in Fitzrovia

      • You’re a man after my own heart – I used to work on Windmill Street, the Newman Arms was literally on the doorstep. I’ve not been there for a good few years but now you’ve just metioned it I’ll be sure to visit next time in that part of town.

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