The embankment of the Thames River in Victorian London is usually considered the final element of the London Main Drainage, a great engineering project that carried the sewage of the crowded metropolis down the valley and ended the toxic pollution of the river and surrounding neighborhoods. But the Embankment, whose construction took almost fifty years from concept to completion, achieved fame in its own right, as an immense, expensive, and successful event that reflected the cultural ecology of Victorian society
In this richly detailed and multifaceted study, Dale H. Porter reveals the complex weave of values and practices–environmental, political, economic, technological, and aesthetic–that made possible the building of these structures that altered and became a permanent part of the London riverscape. Above all, The Thames Embankment shows how innovations in technology, in environmental assessment, and in public policy formations not only lead to public works projects but are, in turn, stimulated and shaped by them.
The Thames Embankment is one of those books like Asa Briggs’ Victorian Cities that provides a kind of imaginative archaeology, permitting modern students of Victorian literature, art, and culture to gain a sense of an age that simultaneously had so much and so little in common with our own. . . . [It] is a treasure trove for any one wanting to understand and experience more of Victorian England.
—George P. Landow, Professor of English and Art History, Brown University