The great manure crisis
Tue 21 Aug 2018
During the late 1800s, large cities all around the world including London, Manchester and New York were described to be “drowning in horse manure”. This was because in order for these cities to function, they were dependent on thousands of horses for the transport of both people and goods. By 1900, there were over 11,000 hansom cabs on the streets of London alone. There were also several thousand horse-drawn buses, each needing 12 horses per day, making a staggering total of over 50,000 horses transporting people around the city each day.
This huge number of horses created major problems. The main concern was the large amount of manure left behind on the streets. On average a horse will produce between 15 and 35 pounds of manure per day. The manure on London and Manchesters streets also attracted a colossal numbers of ﬂies which then spread typhoid fever and other diseases. Each horse also produced around 2 pints of urine per day and to make things worse, the average life expectancy for a working horse was only around 3 years. Horse carcasses therefore also had to be removed from the streets. The bodies were often left to putrefy so the corpses could be more easily sawn into pieces for removal. This problem came to a head when in 1894, The Times newspaper predicted… “In 50 years, every street in London will be buried under nine feet of manure.” This became known as the ‘Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894’.
However, necessity is the mother of invention, and the invention in this case was motor transport. Henry Ford came up with a process of building motor cars at affordable prices. Electric trams and motor buses appeared on the streets, replacing the horse-drawn buses. By 1912, this seemingly insurmountable problem had been resolved in cities all around the globe, horses had been replaced and now motorised vehicles were the main source of transport and carriage. In the last 100 years, the manure crisis no longer exists and has become a point in history. Transport now consists of motor transport, electric cars and aeroplanes. Although horse manure no longer piles up in the streets, litter does and the streets of Manchester have been badly affected by this issue. Manchester now has reportedly, one of the worst fly tipping problems of any city in the UK.
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Source: Historic UK