Londoners have had to put up with many strange sights over the past few weeks: flying cyclists with angel wings, people doing the Mo Farah M hand-signal, the Spice Girls, but this one takes the cake. A massive nose appeared on the Millennium Bridge this morning, sculpted partly to commemorate a noxious period in the city’s history, and partly to encourage people to find out more at a local tourist attraction.
So, to start with the history lesson: in 1898, the Thames and its tributary rivers became so badly polluted by human waste, it caused an situation known as The Great Stink, a horrific stench so purvasive and powerful it forces an Act of Parliament in order to build the sewage system on which the city currently relies.
Ben Sweet, manager of the London Dungeon, who commissioned the nose sculpture to promote its exhibition called Stinky Summer, explained that this was no ordinary toxic whiff. He told Metro: “The stench during the Great Stink was so vile that the curtains in the House of Commons were soaked in chloride of lime in a vain attempt to protect the sensitivities of MPs.
“It didn’t work and a bill was rushed through in just two weeks to fund a massive new sewer system for the city.”
He went on to explain why the London Dungeon is devoting its time to such nasal matters: “Smell is interwoven into the history of the city and until relatively recently London was an unpleasantly smelly place.