Yes indeed. There were plenty of other joys of London in the 18th century. It always seemed to be raining, so cesspools of human waste, mainly from the chamber pots, joined with the rain to make particularly evil smelling puddles all over the place. Carriages with big, heavy iron wheels would come along, go straight through these stinking puddles and slop this putrid abomination liberally over all the unfortunate pedestrians who were unable to escape.
To add to these delights, dead dogs, cats, rats, mice and even horses were left there to rot. Careful! You might even trip over a human corpse!
Now, the residents of the City did enjoy running water – of a sort. It came to them through hollowed out tree trunks which ran benefit the streets. This business of spring, or bottled, water is nothing new. The wealthier residents were able to buy such a commodity from private companies.
The water that most people used for drinking came from the river Thames. Unfortunately, the river was also the dumping place for goodness knows what else. It was crowded with barges and boats of all types, since it was the main shipping thoroughfare. The water, therefore, was murky and of an indeterminate color. No-one thought of filtering it, apparently, or making any effort to protect it from pollution until the middle of the 19th. Century.
Part because the water was so suspect and partly for equally obvious reasons, the first half of the 18th. Century saw the Great Gin Craze. How in the world any work was ever completed, I have no idea. The gin was tasty, inoxicating, unregulated and cheap. As they used to say;
"Drunk for a penny. Dead drunk for tuppence."
Sellers of gin could be found on most corners and along the highways, and in London alone there were reckoned to be 8,000 places where gin was opened sold.
Sanitation was unheard of. There were private bathrooms, but only in the wealthiest homes and then not until the end of the 18th. Century. The raw sewage would keep accumulating, stagnate in the cesspools made by the rain and other until until night time, when people known as 'soil men' came and cleared it all up.
There were systems of complex sewers, but these were designed to carry away the rainwater. The idea was good, but the practical application needed work. It ended up with them carrying away a lot more than just rainwater. There are records of public complaints that showed that apart from water, the sewers also carried the filth of pigsties and slaughterhouses.
The underground pipes were of poor construction, too, so that the water mains had an unfortunate habit of bursting fairly regularly. Sudden springs would appear, mix with all the debris of the streets and turn into a foul, foetid mix through which pedestrians would have to wade if they wished to reach where they intended to go.
Reading all this now, we think it must have been the closest thing to a hell on earth that you could find. But then, the residents, rich and poor, were brought up with it