Cholera and the Thames: From ‘Great Stink’ to Safe to Drink KS2

Science & history with geography links

Session 1 with the National Archives:

What impact did the environment have on people’s health in the 19th century? Exploring documents taken from the General Board of Health (in response to the 1848 Public Health Act) pupils investigate the causes of cholera in different localities across England and Wales. They find out about the ‘Great Stink of 1858’ and the problems this caused.

Session 2 with Thames Explorer Trust

How clean is the Thames today? Different types of scientific inquiries help pupils to discover what impact the river environment has had on people’s health during the 19th and 21st centuries. Types of scientific inquiry that will be used include riverside observations, identifying river wildlife and signs of pollution. Fair testing will measure water quality (pH, turbidity and water temperature). Collecting, analysing and presenting data allows pupils to be part of ‘River Watch’ a citizen science project. Data will be uploaded to the River Watch database, enabling classes to use it for follow-up work back at school. The data will also be used by scientists monitoring litter and water quality issues in the tidal Thames.


The National Archives, Kew.


Full day programme. Half days available on request.