Mike Jay on John Snow and the Soho cholera outbreak of 1854
The Broadwick Street pump handle and the birth of epidemiology
On the 8th September 1854, on the instruction
of Dr John Snow, the handle to the pump on Broad Street (now
Broadwick Street) in Soho was removed. Snow recognised that the
water from this pump was the source of an outbreak of cholera that
ravaged Soho, killing over 500 in previous weeks.
Snow's work was groundbreaking for its use of
statistical analysis: he plotted the locations of all the deaths in
the cholera epidemic and discovered that they clustered around
water pumps and particularly around the pump in Broad Street.
Though Snow's intervention may have had little impact on the
outbreak itself, his work made an important contribution to
London's public health movement and the development of epidemiology
as an evidence-based science.
This video is from Medical London, a book and
project about 2000 years of health and sickness in the capital
city, featuring seven self-guided walks. Broadwick Street is a
point of interest on the fifth walk, 'Politics, Poverty, Pox and
Pleasure: Soho by night'.