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Drainage Systems Through the Ages

26th April 2018

Drainage Systems Through the Ages

At Metro Rod (Aberdeen) we love drains, from unblocking to relining and excavations, we love it all. So much so in fact, that we have put together a little history lesson for anyone who, like us, likes all things drainage related.

We often overlook the luxury that the modern world grants us in the form of sanitary relief. To be able to turn on the tap, take a shower or flush the toilet without having to consider where the water comes from and where the waste disposes of to, is nothing short of a miracle. Particularly, because we know that this wasn’t always the case. And to have an operational and effective drainage system is still not accessible to many around the globe.
So let’s take a brief look at the defining moments in drainage history that have allowed us the ease that we enjoy today.

The Aqueducts
Evidence of surface-based storm drainage system goes back all the way to the Mesopotamian and Babylonian Empires in Iraq (ca. 4000-2500 BC). However, it is only around 3000 BC that sufficient evidence of an organized and operational sewer and drainage system, from the remains of the Harappa and the Indus Civilisations, was found.
The people of the Indus created pipelines with an abundance of terracotta around them and had a relatively complex sewage and drainage system that used tidal power to flush the waste out to sea.
The Roman and the Hellenes then took these techniques and sophisticated them, which greatly increased the scale of these systems. The Romans are particularly well known for their sewage and irrigation systems. They are known to have favoured lead pipes to bring in water from the nearest spring to their houses, which some archaeologists have also attributed to the eventual fall of the Empire at the hands of lead poisoning.

Flush It
The modern-day flushing toilet-design made its first entry into the drainage scene back in the 16th century. The innovator behind this contraption was Sir John Harrington, who had noticeably modelled his design around the remains of those discovered in the ancient palaces of Knossos, where they were used by the Minoans of Crete 3000 years earlier. This design took a further 200 years to be developed into Alexander Cummings’ patented bowl model.

The Great Victorian Sink
Drastic changes to sewers and drains were witnessed during the Victorian Era. Earlier, River Thames was the only outlet for the city’s waste and was nothing more than an open sewer, due to which cholera and other diseases were widespread.
In 1858, the city underwent soaring temperatures and this caused suffocating odours to envelop the city and led to that summer being named as the “Great Stink”. This finally resulted in actions being taken and a modernising process was initiated.
An extensive drainage system was laid out, designed by Joseph Bazalgatta, which continues to serve till today, with regular extensions added to cope with the rising residential and commercial demands of the city. With time this system was extended to over parts of the country and now is in place throughout the UK.

The Trajectory of the Pipeline
Pipes have been used for thousands of years by different civilisations and to different extents in order to meet their drainage needs; the primary change has been in the form of the materials used. In the past materials like wood, lead, stone or bamboo was the options to choose from, however, now more durable materials like brass, copper, and plastic, primarily for internal fixtures, are used. Additionally, in the modern drainage systems, high-pressure pumps are used, instead of reliance on gravity to facilitate the flow.
Though pipes have undergone a great deal of change through the ages, they still continue to require assistance for the upkeep and maintenance of their lining.

We at MetroRod specialize in providing expert drainage inspection and rectification techniques, 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. All you need to do is give us a call and we will handle the rest.

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Talk to your local Metro Rod specialist

We are always happy to arrange a free site assessment and no obligation quotations for any work you might need. Alternatively, you can call our emergency hotline number on 0800 66 88 00

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