UCL News


150 years after the Great Stink: StinkFest

13 June 2008

Geographers, scientists, engineers and town planners will descend on the UCL Environment Institute next week (Tuesday 17th) for 'Stinkfest', a free one-day conference marking 150 years since the Great Stink of London.

Experts from various disciplines will meet to commemorate this significant event and discuss the environmental issues facing London in the 21st century.

"The Great Stink was massively important for the capital," says Dr Sarah Bell, Co-Director of the UCL Environment Institute. "150 years ago the River Thames was practically an open sewer and it took the stinking misery of the summer of 1858 to prompt the government into taking action - something which ultimately led to the creation of the modern sewerage system.

"London and other world cities face another 'Great' problem, namely climate change. Can London again rise to the environmental challenge, reduce its carbon foot-print and protect its citizens from the inevitable consequences of climate change? These are the kind of issues that will be discussed at StinkFest."

In addition to discussion panels and Q&A sessions, presentations at StinkFest include:

  • "The vulnerability of the Thames to climate change" by Dr Sarah Bell. Could recent ecological gains in the Thames Basin be undone by climate change?
  • Jill Goddard of the Thames Estuary Partnership will examine the conflict that arises between the various groups that live near, work on, and plan for the future of the Thames.
  • Phil Stride of Thames Water explains the Thames Tideway Tunnel and how it will capture and treat millions of tonnes of storm sewage, preventing it from entering the river.
  • "Urban planning and the environment in London" by Yvonne Rydin, Professor of Planning, Environment and Public Policy. The Great Stink was evidence of a major failure of urban governance to protect the environment and public health. How effective can the current administration be in delivering an environmentally sustainable future for London?

For more information about StinkFest, or to arrange an interview with any of the academics presenting at the event, please contact Dave Weston in the UCL Press Office on 020 7679 7678 or email d.weston@ucl.ac.uk


Notes for editors:

About University College London

Founded in 1826, UCL was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. In the government's most recent Research Assessment Exercise, 59 UCL departments achieved top ratings of 5* and 5, indicating research quality of international excellence.

UCL is in the top ten world universities in the 2007 THES-QS World University Rankings, and the fourth-ranked UK university in the 2007 league table of the top 500 world universities produced by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. UCL alumni include Marie Stopes, Jonathan Dimbleby, Lord Woolf, Alexander Graham Bell, and members of the band Coldplay. Website: www.ucl.ac.uk