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History 20th Century

West Ham and the River Lea

A Social and Environmental History of London’s Industrialized Marshland, 1839–1914

by (author) Jim Clifford

UBC Press
Initial publish date
Aug 2017
20th Century, City Planning & Urban Development
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Aug 2017
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2017
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2018
    List Price

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West Ham and the River Lea explores the environmental and social history of London’s most populous independent suburb and its second largest river. Jim Clifford maps the migration of industry into West Ham’s marshlands and reveals the consequences for the working-class people who lived among the factories. He argues that poverty, pollution, water shortages, and disease stimulated momentum for political transformation, providing an opening for a new urban politics to emerge. This book establishes the importance of the urban environment in the development of social democracy in Greater London at the turn of the twentieth century.

About the author

Contributor Notes

Jim Clifford is an associate professor of environmental history in the Department of History at the University of Saskatchewan. He has been a fellow at the Rachel Carson Centre for Environment and Society and a postdoctoral fellow with the Trading Consequences project funded by Digging Into Data grant. He has a number of publications on advanced digital history methods and is a founding editor of, which received the 2015 Canadian Historical Association Public History Prize.

Editorial Reviews

Clifford draws welcome attention to part of Greater London frequently neglected in historical scholarship due to its proximity to London yet independent status … West Ham and the River Lea provides a view of the social and environmental impacts of West Ham’s industrialization with an emphasis on the sanitary experiences of people living in the borough during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

London Journal

West Ham, Clifford shows, was beset by intersecting social, administrative, technical, and environmental problems, and their consequences were felt quite unequally … Such nuance and detail is perhaps this book’s major contribution.

Environmental History

Other titles by Jim Clifford