Songsheet cover for 'The lamentation of Old Father Thames': 19th century

William Heath

Songsheet cover for 'The lamentation of Old Father Thames': 19th century
3 0 c m
40cm
actual image size: 25cm x 22cm

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.

© Museum of London

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