Ivanhoe Ashby de la Zouch U3A U3A Group Logo

The History Group

Leader:  Jane Harris - history@ashbyu3a.co.uk - phone 01530 838025

Any U3A member is welcome at our meetings.

All meetings with speakers will be held at Packington Memorial Hall.
Doors open for Packington meetings at 2pm, with a start as soon as possible after that, hopefully by 2.10pm.

Details of visits will be advised closer to the time.
The following dates have been arranged, but may be subject to changes which will be announced on a rolling monthly basis.

Future programme

Thu 28th Nov TBA'Tissington Hall at Christmas'

24th October. A History of the World from the Bottom up.

46 members attended, possibly a record!

Janet surprised most of us as we thought she might be telling us about the Antipodes. But no, this was about a far more fundamental topic as she took us for a surprisingly entertaining and thought provoking firkle through the history of human sanitary arrangements, a topic few would have dared to tackle.

It seems that our distant, savannah roaming, ancestors had no real need of waste disposal, as they rarely stayed in one place long enough for it to become a problem, but when we settled down, as it were, in one spot, things became more urgent-

We learnt more than we knew about the human digestive system and the 'little helpers' therein. Which could become deadly if reintroduced to our system.
As we settled down population grew and things became urgent so our ancestors developed ever more sophisticated systems of waste disposal. Latrine construction was even mentioned in the Bible.

Essentially two systems were evolved: one for dry parts of the world and one for the wet places.
Janet showed us some remarkable pictures of different kinds of loos, from a monumental throne for King Agammemnon, to a communal loo for up to 36 in Greece. Very cosy! There was considerable detail on the cleansing techniques and implements employed, but we were all rather relieved when Janet moved on to the history of the Water Closet.

This was it seems introduced by one John Harrington for Queen Elizabeth I. It may, however, have been a bit smelly as the output wasn't actually removed from the vicinity. More and better loos were developed by Alexander Cummings (no relation of Dominic Cummings, we think) and Thomas Crapper all of which helped in the fight against the rapidly increasingly insanitary conditions in the cities of the Industrial Revolution.

John Snow's work in identifying the epidemiology of Cholera and Joseph Bazalgette's (pronounced-Bazaljet-) Great Sewer were giant strides in the effort to clean up the cities and helped to banish many of the horrors of disease arising from bad sanitation. The Great Sewer opened for 'business' on 13th July 1870.

Janet closed by entertaining us with a summary of the dire conditions in Ashby itself in 1850. It seems there was no means of waste disposal at all. And death rates among children up to 9 were as high as 45%

A weirdly fascinating subject, which kept us on the edge of our seats!

Earlier history meeting