- 27 May 2020
A replica of the infamous John Snow pump has been reinstalled on Broadwick Street in Soho, London. The original pump was the source of a deadly cholera epidemic which claimed the lives of over 600 people in Soho in 1854.
The pump was named after the scientist, Dr John Snow, who mapped cases of the illness in order to pin point its source. He had traced the outbreak to a public water hand pump determining that cholera was conveyed in water. Prior to the discovery, it was widely believed that cholera was spread through dirty air.
Dr Snow had the pump’s handle removed and stopped the outbreak. His research is considered ground breaking and subsequently changed the way scientists investigated and treated epidemics across the world.
The replica pump, which was originally installed in 1992 and removed in 2015 due to development in the area, has now been refitted in its original location in Soho’s Broadwick Street, next to the eponymous John Snow pub.
The newly refurbished replica was unveiled by Richard Beddoe, Westminster City Council Cabinet Member for Place Shaping and Planning.
Councillor Beddoe said: “John Snow’s ingenious research saved hundreds of lives. The pump serves as a reminder of our fascinating past and the debt we owe doctors and scientists like John Snow.
“This newly refurbished pump will keep John Snow’s work fresh in the memories of the people of Soho, Westminster and the world.”
Oliver Cumming, co-chair of the John Snow Society, said: “We are delighted that after an absence of several years, the replica pump that marks the source of the 1854 Soho cholera outbreak is now returning to its true historical site outside the John Snow pub on Broadwick Street. The replica pump marks a seminal event in global public health history.
“John Snow’s ground-breaking study of this cholera outbreak and his subsequent decision to demand the removal of the pump’s handle heralded the advent of epidemiology as a scientific discipline and basis for public health policy.”
Dr. Rosalind Stanwell-Smith, who acted as the Society’s ‘Pump Ambassador’ during the pump replica’s 3 year absence, said: “The pump is an important symbol of the power of public health and we are most grateful for the support from the City of Westminster and the developers to ensure its return. As well as being one of London’s most unusual tourist attractions, it serves as a reminder that clean water and safe sanitation are essential to civilisation.”