A horrified woman drops her teacup on learning just what creatures inhabit her drinking water. The text along the top reads: “MICROCOSM. Dedicated to the London Water Companies 1 – Brought forth all monstrous, all prodigious things, 2 – Hydras and gorgons, and chimeras dire. Vide Milton.” At bottom: “MONSTER SOUP commonly called THAMES WATER, being a correct representation of that precious stuff doled out to us!!!”
The buildup of raw effluent in the Thames (not to mention the streets and thoroughfares of London) was major public health hazard during the Victorian era. Three deadly cholera outbreaks and an event known as the Great Stink of 1858 finally led to the construction of a modern sewer network that funneled waste downstream of the main city of London.
(Image by the Wellcome Library, London, CC BY 4.0).