London Pub Signs – The John Snow

Located on the corner of Broadwick and Lexington Streets in Soho, this pub is named for the man who, through his meticulous research, was able to show that London’s cholera epidemic of 1854 was the result of a contaminated water supply.

A physician then working in London, John Snow didn’t believe in the current theory that diseases such as cholera were caused by bad air and instead, through a study looking at where those affected by the disease in 1854 lived and obtained their water, was able to pinpoint a water pump in what was then Broad Street (the ‘wick’ wasn’t added to the street’s name until the 1930s) as the original source.

The pump, which initially apparently stood just outside the pub, is now located down the street. A pink granite curbstone outside the side door of the John Snow pub and plaque on the pub wall mark where the pump formerly stood.

The building housing the pub dates from the 1870s and the pub was apparently initially called the Newcastle-upon-Tyne but this was formally changed to John Snow in May, 1955, to mark the centenary of Snow’s research into the 1854 epidemic.

For a terrific book about John Snow’s work, see Steven Johnson’s The Ghost Map: A Street, an Epidemic and the Hidden Power of Urban Networks.