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Archives in London and the M25 area


Identity Statement

Reference code(s): THCS
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1703-1847
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 32.41 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Tower Hamlets Commission of Sewers


Administrative/Biographical history:

Early Commissioners of Sewers were solely concerned with land drainage and the prevention of flooding, not with the removal of sewage in the modern sense. In 1531 an Act of Sewers was passed which set out in great detail the duties and powers of Commissioners and governed their work until the 19th century. Gradually a permanent pattern emerged in the London area of seven commissions, five north and two south of the Thames, with, after the Great Fire, a separate commission for the City of London. The London commissioners had more extensive powers than those in other parts of the country; they had control over all watercourses and ditches within two miles of the City of London as well as newly constructed drains and sewers. After 1800 the London commissioners also obtained powers to control the formation of new sewers and house drains.

Although as early as May 1598 a commission of sewers was issued "for her Mats. Mills called Chrashe Milles in the parishes of St. Botulphes without Algate London and St Marge Matfellon alias Whitechapple in the Countie of Middx" (The National Archives: Ind. 4208 Crown Office Docquet Book) no continuing commission for the Tower Hamlets area (as distinct from the Poplar area) seems to have been established until 1686 (The National Archives: Ind. 4215 Crown Office Docquet Book). The jurisdiction of the Commission covered parts of East London including Spitalfields, Mile End, Shadwell, Smithfield, Whitechapel, Wapping, Limehouse, Stepney, Poplar, Blackwall, Tower Hill, Bethnal Green, Bow, Bromley, Stratford, Hackney, Ratcliff and Clapton.


Scope and content/abstract:

Letters patent appointing Commissioners, 1811-1837; writ to swear in Commissioners and orders to summon juries, 1795-1827; solicitor's notes offering advice for legal cases and presentments, 1780-1845; minutes of the Commissioners, 1702-1811; registers of the Commissioners, 1702-1830; minutes of the proceedings of the Committee, 1831-1847; Chairman's business papers, 1821-1838; Committee reference books, 1832-1846; extracts from the Registers, 1702-1821; order of Court for the presentment of landowners and tenants within area of Commission, 1837; order to owners and occupiers to appear in Court regarding non-payment of rates, 1831-1832; presentments of jurors, 1746-1844; reports and petitions, 1703-1749; reports of Committees, 1750-1846; petitions, officer's reports and letters, 1750-1847; petitions to open drains into sewers, 1802-1824; petition books, 1838-1847; financial accounts, 1707-1847, including accounts of works expenditure; rate books, 1703-1846; tenders, specifications, agreements and contracts by and with tradesmen for work on the sewers, 1751-1846; report of the Committee in response to statements made in the Report of the Poor Law Commissioners on the 'sanitary condition of the labouring population of Great Britain', 1843; plans of drains and public sewers, and maps of the jurisdiction of the Commission with levels and sewers marked.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

THCS/1-4: Letters Patent; THCS/5: Writs and Orders; THCS/6-8: Solicitor's Papers; THCS/9-48: Minutes and Registers; THCS/49-53: Minutes of the Committee; THCS/54-57: Chairman's Papers; THCS/58-60: Committee Reference Books; THCS/61-64: Orders and Presentments; THCS/65-74: Petitions, Reports and Letters; THCS/75-532: Financial Accounts and Rate Books; THCS/533-536: Printed Reports; THCS/P and THCS/PR: Maps and Plans.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: City of London.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Acquired with the records of its successor body, the Metropolitan Board of Works.

Allied Materials

Related material:

For further records relating to sewers in London please see MCS: Metropolitan Commission of Sewers; PCS: Poplar Commission of Sewers; SKCS: Surrey and Kent Commission of Sewers; THCS: Tower Hamlets Commission of Sewers; WCS: Westminster and Middlesex Commission of Sewers; NSJSB: North Surrey Joint Sewage Board; O/080 and O/160: Westminster Commission of Sewers; ACC/2766: Crossness Pumping Station; GCS: Greenwich Commission of Sewers; HLCS: Havering Level Commission of Sewers; HFCS: Holborn and Finsbury Commission of Sewers; RMSB: Richmond Main Sewerage Board; STKCS: Saint Katherine's Commission of Sewers; WVA: Wandle Valley Main Drainage Authority and MBW: Metropolitan Board of Works. For the City of London see CLA/006: City of London Commissioners of Sewers.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
April to June 2009

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