'Hoping for the Spread of the Cholera', 1840-1850.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Lithographed caricature of an undertaker anticipating increased busines from a cholera epidemic. John Snow's (1813-1858) work was vital in establishing the water-borne nature of cholera which first appeared in Britain in 1831. Epidemics were exacerbated by rapid urbanisation and asociated poor public hygiene. Cholera hit both rich and poor, and public presure led to legislation which made dramatic improvements in all aspects of public health provision.