The Brunel Engine House - the Miner's Life Exhibition

Jacobs Island


Privies emptying into a stream from which local people took their water. Jacob's Island

"Oliver Twist" by Charles Dickens 1837
"Beyond Dockhead, in the borough of Southwark, stands Jacob's Island, surrounded by a muddy ditch, six or eight feet deep and fifteen or twenty feet wide when the tide is in.

At such times, a stranger looking from one of the wooden bridges across this ditch will see the inhabitants on either side, lowering from their back doors and windows, buckets and pails in which to haul the water up. And when his eye is turned from these operations to the houses themselves his utmost astonishment wilt be excited by the scene before him. Crazy wooden galleries common to the backs of half a dozen houses, with holes from which to took at the slime beneath; windows broken and patched, with poles thrust out on which to dry the linen which is never there; rooms so small, so filthy, so confined that the air would seem too tainted even for the dirt and squalor which they shelter; wooden chambers thrust themselves out above the mud, and threatening to fall into it -as some have done; dirt-besmeared walls and decaying foundations; every repulsive lineament of poverty, every loathsome indication of filth, rot and garbage, all these ornament the banks of Folly ditch.."





Email the Museum. Page Last Updated on 20 April 2002. Designed by Kevin Flude of Cultural Heritage Resouces