On this day: December 9, 1952 – Thousands left dead after Great Smog of London wreaks four days of havoc

The Great Smog of London is reportedly the worst air-pollution event in the history of the United Kingdom.

Polluted with thick, toxic smoke, London was left with thousands of deaths (reportedly around 12,000) while hundreds of thousands were taken ill in just four foul days.

The fog, also known as “This Big Smoke”, lasted from December 5-9 killing all sight while murdering at its pleasure.

It is reported that the pollution was so strong that it halted all air and road transportation and choked cows in the fields.

In many parts of London, the cloud was so thick it was impossible for people to see their own feet.

The millions of people inconvenienced by the smog were not entirely innocent as fogs had been common ever since the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700s.

Unidentified sulphurous fumes, chemicals and other unknown poisonous particles had been released into the atmosphere in gases burning and bursting out of the countless factories, power plants and coal fires spread all over the city.

This fog started like any other: people scarcely noticed it out of habit but then came the next day, when the sun did not rise to clear the smoke and the toll was heavy, London left facing an epic public health disaster.

London’s fog turned into London’s smog.

The misty morning fog mixed with the heavy tone of soot in the air, smoke caused by factory smokestacks, as chimneys and automobiles turned a yellowy colour and began to choke the population of our great capital.

The air was so black that everything was covered with a thick heavy layer of greasy smog, the pavement, the cars, the people.

Bus drivers were led down the street by conductors on foot holding flashlights while many abandoned their vehicles.

“The Big Smoke” had everyone chaotically trying to survive and even after the smoke passed countless Londoners were left with burnt lungs.

Image courtesy of CwnEnvironment via YouTube, with thanks.

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