Whitechapel’s sewage ‘fatberg’ at Museum of London inspires kids’ comic, birthday cake and drag acts
- Credit: Nathan Wright
A kids’ adventure comic, a kids birthday cake and a musical are some of the weird inspirations from the infamous Whitechapel ‘fatberg’ discovered in the sewers of east London.
A chunk of the toxic sewage found blocking 800ft of sewer under Whitechapel Road in September later went on public display at the Museum of London which finishes on Saturday.
It took Thames Water engineers three weeks to clear the solid build-up of wet wipes, nappies, cooking fat and oil, one of the largest fatbergs ever found in London.
But it has taken on new life since going on show in February, inspiring “a slew of creativity”. The museum, within sniffing distance of St Paul’s, has been inundated with work directly inspired by the monster Whitechapel Fatberg.
“We received an unprecedented number of messages since it went on show,” curator Vyki Sparkes reveals. “It’s struck a chord with people who have created everything from poems to cakes, even a musical in the pipeline!”
Illustrator and author Nathan Wright’s ‘monster’-turned-lovable-children’s character in his 2015 children’s novel Adventures of Fatberg has been turned again, this time into a web comic, following the Whitechapel Fatberg display.
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Ethan Cox begged his mum to make him a fatberg cake for his 10th birthday after seeing the display. It had chocolate peanut butter icing, raisins for the flies that hatched shortly after Fatberg went on show—and even a chocolate wrapper poking out just like the real thing. But it sadly caught fire when the birthday candles were lit.
Fatberg the musical, or Flushing Fatbergs, currently in works, explores London’s relationship to waste.
The Fatberg Princess drag artist Miss Her-Nia has been on a weekly pilgrimage to see Fatberg and performs regularly to express “disregard and shame” about how we treat sewage.
Timberlina the eco-drag queen has written a fatberg song which she performs as part of her drag-alt rock show.
A Fatberg band named after the Whitechapel sewage monster performs Song About Bowling that mentions Fatberg all the way through.
Fatberg has also inspired people to change the way fat and wipes are disposed—using refuge containers rather than the kitchen sink.
The museum, within sniffing distance of St Paul’s, wants to give its chunk of the toxic Whitechapel Fatberg a permanent place in its archives.
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Fatberg weighed a staggering 130 tonnes when it was discovered—the same as 11 double decker buses—when it was first discovered, twice the length of the Wembley pitch.
Engineers had to use high-powered jet hoses working seven days a week to break up the mass before suction tankers could draw it out for disposal at a recycling site in Stratford.