Now Museum of London wants to put Whitechapel’s giant ‘fatberg’ sewage on show

PUBLISHED: 19:11 13 September 2017 | UPDATED: 19:12 13 September 2017

The giant fatberg blocking up major sewer under Whitechapel Road. Picture: Thames Water

The giant fatberg blocking up major sewer under Whitechapel Road. Picture: Thames Water

Thames Water

The giant ‘fatberg’ blocking a major sewer flow in east London deep beneath the Whitechapel Road could soon go on public display.

Thames Water engineer in Whitechapel ready to clear 'fatberg' from the sewer. Picture: Thames WaterThames Water engineer in Whitechapel ready to clear 'fatberg' from the sewer. Picture: Thames Water

That’s the extraordinary proposal tonight by officials at the Museum of London.

They want a slice of the action—or rather a slice of the sewage blockage to exhibit to the public.

Thames Water engineers have started a three-week operation in Whitechapel to extract the 800ft long fatberg, one of the largest ever found in London.

It’s a mass of clogged-up wet wipes, nappies, cooking fat and oil weighs a staggering 130 tonnes, the same as 11 double decker buses.

The rock-solid mass highlights some of the pressures modern life can impose on London’s historical infrastructures like the Victorian brick-lined sewers laid out by Joseph Bazalgette in the 1860s.

Such issues are discussed and explored in the museum’s current City Now City Future season which deals with contemporary issues facing towns and cities.

“The discovery of this fatberg highlights one of the issues London has to deal with as it grows,” the museum’s director Sharon Ament said.

“It is important for us to display genuine curiosities from the past and present.

“I hope it would raise questions if we’re able to acquire the fatberg for our collection about how we live today.”

She thinks it would “inspire” people to consider solutions to the problems of a growing metropolis like London.

“It is one of the most extraordinary objects in any museum collection,” she enthuses.

The museum in London Wall, just two miles west of the Whitechapel fatberg, is hoping to confirm an acquisition soon and has started talks with Thames Water.

Meanwhile the digging carries on under the Whitechapel Road to remove the immense fatberg with engineers using high-powered jet hoses to break up the mass and using a fleet of suction tankers to draw it out. Up to 30 tonnes a day are being removed by crews working 8am to 5pm, seven days a week, to dispose the stuff at a recycling site in Stratford, but saving a slice for the museum.

It’s going to take three weeks—so Museum of London bosses have time to think about what to do with the fatberg and how they’re going to put it on show.

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