Songsheet cover for 'The lamentation of Old Father Thames': 19th century
© Museum of London
Full image caption
Songsheet cover for 'The lamentation of Old Father Thames' written and sung by Mr Hudson and Mr Taylor at public dinners. The cover is printed with a black and white illustration by William Heath showing Old Father Thames arising from a polluted River stating 'Here's a mess I am in'. The bearded figure is surrounded by captioned images of a putrefied Thames as a common sewer and diseased 'white bait looking black' and 'ghosts of departed flounders'. By the 1850s the Thames resembled a fermenting cesspit, polluted by the sewers that disgorged untreated waste from London's ever-increasing multitudes. The river was further polluted by quantities of rubbish and offal – thrown into it from slaughter-houses, tanneries and factories – and by stable dung, rotten vegetables and other waste. It was transformed into a treacly brown fluid that left a greasy, foul-smelling scum on the riverbanks as the tide retreated.
1809 AD - 1840 AD