Scientist who stopped deadly spread of cholera remembered

Fri, 20/07/2018

Refurbished ‘John Snow’ pump - at the heart of scientific breakthrough - unveiled

A replica of the infamous John Snow pump has been reinstalled on Broadwick Street in Soho.

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 who mapped cases of the illness in order to pin point its source.

Dr John Snow traced the outbreak to a public water hand pump determining that cholera was conveyed in water. Prior to the discovery it was widely believed cholera spread through dirty air.

Dr Snow had the pump’s handle removed and stopped the outbreak. His research is considered ground breaking and changed the way scientists investigated and treated epidemics across the world.

The replica pump, which was originally installed in 1992 was 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.

Today the newly refurbished replica will be unveiled by Westminster City Council Cabinet Member for Place Shaping and Planning Richard Beddoe.

Cllr 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.”

Professor Jimmy Whitworth, co-chair of the John Snow Society, said: “Today, epidemiology underpins the life-saving work of public health research institutes such as the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, in the UK, but also across the world; including in countries still affected by cholera and poor water and sanitation services.  

“While the last outbreak of cholera in the UK was in 1866, there are millions of cases annually in low and middle-income countries, and it causes around 100,000 deaths each year. The World Health Organization recently launched a Global Task Force on Cholera Control Road Map, aiming to reduce mortality from cholera by 90%, fulfilling the legacy of John Snow.

“Not the newsreader, nor the cricketer or Game of Thrones character, the John Snow Society aims to promote the life and works of Dr John Snow, the 19th century pioneer of epidemiological method and celebrated anaesthetist.”



Last updated: 30 July 2018
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