Waterworks and commemoration: purity, rurality, and civic identity in Britain, 1880-1921

Authors Organisations
Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-325
Number of pages21
JournalContinuity and Change
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Permanent link
View graph of relations
Citation formats


This article studies the commemoration and ceremonial culture surrounding the inauguration of new waterworks in British municipalities during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It analyses how new waterworks could be seen as a symbol of a progressive civic government, and how the commemoration of their opening could be used to enhance a city's image. The article also studies the ways in which ideas concerning the purity of new water supplies were constructed. An examination is made of how ceremonial culture and publications reflected the particular politics of waterworks in individual localities, and how such commemoration could serve as a vehicle for the promotion of civic unity.