Today as Gothicat had invited me and Skippy out for the last drink of the year in the Revolution bar, Soho we decided to see if there were any interesting places in the book to do our first visit. First thing I noticed when I opened up to the Soho section was that the very road we were going to was listed. Saint Anne’s Court, a narrow little alley between Dean Street and Wardour Street. This was connected to the 1850’s cholera outbreak. When researching this I discovered that the nearby Broadwick street was also affected. So we had our route and off we went.
Got to the corner of Saint Anne’s Court and were instantly hit by our first problem. Despite me checking them yesterday the batteries in my camera had decided they weren’t going to work. So after a quick run to the nearby Tesco Metro on Dean Street, and arguing with the useless self service checkout, we were set.
Broadwick Street, orginally called Broad Street, was at the centre of the first cholera outbreak in the area in 1854. Cholera was virtually unheard of in Soho until 31st August. Within three days twelve people had died and by the 10th September the death rate had risen to five hundred. Local physician, John Snow, had already published a paper stating his theory that cholera was spread by dirty water, though most people still claimed it was due to ‘a miasma in the atmosphere’. Dr Snow saw this as an oppotunity to prove his point as all of the affected people came from the same few streets. He took some water from the pump in Broad street and examined it under a microscope, there he found ‘white, flocculent particles’. He took his findings to the Board of Guardians of St. James’s Parish, who though they doubted his theories agreed to remove the pump handle. After this the number of cases dropped dramatically.
During the epidemic the neighbouring street of Saint Anne’s Court became known as the ‘Street of Death’ due to the number of deaths there being double the rest of the country.
There is no a memorial pump on the original site, erected in 1992, and the opposite corner has a pub named the John Snow after the doctor who found the link.