Cholera: London’s Solution to a Medical Mystery

Prevention of Cholera notice, 26 July 1866. Image property of Westminster City Archives.
Writing grant applications can often be a long and stressful affair, especially as our projects have come to rely on outside funding. So it was a wonderful moment when we received the nod from the Heritage Lottery Fund who awarded a new Archives project entitled ‘Cholera: London’s Solution to a Medical Mystery’ £47,100 and a further £13,500 from Thames Water (Thank you to both organisations!).

The project will focus on the story of Cholera and theThames.  In August 1854 a major cholera outbreak struck Soho and over 500 people died in less than two weeks. The project focuses on key figures like Dr John Snow whose conversations with local Soho residents lead him to a water pump in Broad Street, where he identified the source of cholera in the area.

Other key figures will be Sir Joseph Bazalgette who designed the London sewage system, and Charles Dickens who described the area around Westminster Abbey at that time as “The Devils Acre”.

Funding will be spent on a range of creative activities for schools and the local community. Artist Darren Calder will work with a local Bangladeshi group at Church Street Library, where they will design a weaved art piece on a giant loom capturing the history and peoples thoughts about the Thames, linking into their own memories of the sacred Ganges in Bangladesh. Primary Schools will be entertained by MOD Theatre Group who will perform ‘The Charles Dickens Show’ at school assemblies.

Animator Tom Hillenbrand will work with families and school children to develop a 20 minute documentary telling the story of Dr John Snow. If you and your children would like to help create the animation then please come and join us at the Thames Festival on the 10 & 11 September, 2011.  We will be in a Marquee close to the Mayor’s office. We will also be holding animation workshops at Paddington Children’s Library on 23 & 25 October – during half-term.

The funds will also be spent on a website, which will go live in January 2012 just in time for an exhibition showcasing artworks from the Westminster Archives collection hosted at the SW1 Gallery (from 4 – 29 January 2012).

We promise to deliver activities to get you learning about your local area!

[Camilla]

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