Brighton's Victorian Sewers

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The Victorian sewers in Brighton were so well designed and built that they remain in use today.

  • Work was completed on the sewers in 1874
  • 48km of sewers were built underneath Brighton
  • The old tunnel (which runs from Hove to Portobello) still serves as an emergency relief valve during times of heavy rain


Explore the sewers

Play our video and click and drag to look around in 360°. 


History of the sewers

Victorian bricklayers took hundreds of tonnes of sand from Brighton's now pebbly beach to make ‘pug’ to cement millions of bricks, and shells are still displayed in the mortar.

Until the mid-1800s, the bulk of Brighton’s household sewage drained into cesspools at the back of properties. This unpleasant arrangement changed in 1860 when the town council resolved to build a system that would drain into the sea.

With no hydraulic diggers or power tools, they relied on manual labour and built a sewer system to serve Brighton.

Workers dug up the road using pickaxes and shovels with the rubble removed by wheelbarrow and horse-drawn carts. Two steam-driven cranes moved the heavier items.

The bricklayers of the 1870s were paid between ten and 15 shillings (50p to 75p) per 12ft length of the sewer tunnel, depending on how thick the brickwork was. The best men could earn £4 and ten shillings a week. General labourers earned half the bricklayers’ pay.

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