Spotlight On: Office of Works

Read the video transcript

We hope you enjoyed watching our Education Service video with Christopher Day Modern Domestic Records Specialist looking at records from the Office of Works, WORK. This video focusses on two plans concerning the development of the Thames embankment and the construction of the sewer system in the mid nineteenth century.  

Watch the video then try and answer the following questions:

  • When did the office of works begin as a government department? 
  • What type of building plans would you expect to find in the early days of the office of works? 
  • By the eighteen and nineteenth centuries what public building plans can be found in this collection? 
  • Why do you think these types of plans are useful for finding out about the past? 

Plans: WORK 38/89-108 

  • What is the date of this map of the redevelopment of the Thames embankment? 
  • What does the map show? 
  • Why has the map been coloured green, pink and yellow in different areas by officials? 
  • What does the second ‘close-up’ document show us? 
  • Give two reasons why these plans were produced. 
  • How did Joseph Bazalgette develop plans for London’s sewage system? 
  • Can you give three reasons why the plan to develop London’s sewers took longer than expected? 
  • What was the total cost of the project? 
  • How do you think the new sewer system improved health in the city of London? 
  • How has Joseph Bazalgette been commemorated? 
  • What other types of sources are used in this video to give context to the plans discussed by our specialist?  

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