Adrian Tinniswood

Up and Under

London Under

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Chatto & Windus 202pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

The Stones of London: A History in Twelve Buildings

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Weidenfeld & Nicolson 456pp £25 order from our bookshop

‘Sewers’, says Peter Ackroyd in London Under, ‘exercise a curious fascination upon otherwise healthy and happy people.’ They figure quite prominently in Ackroyd’s new book, from medieval waste pipes, through Joseph Bazalgette’s labyrinthine marvel (‘the most extensive and wonderful work of modern times,’ said the Observer in 1861), to the Thames Tideway Tunnel, a 32-kilometre-long sewage overflow running from Chiswick to Beckton and scheduled for completion in 2020. We meet rat-catchers, robbers and ‘toshers’, an underground breed who earned their living in the nineteenth century by scavenging in the raw sewage for objects of value.

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