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1945 to 1965

the history of Leyton and Leytonstone

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Air quality

London suffered its worst ‘smog’ (thick fog made yellow and choking with coalfire smoke and other pollution) from 4th to 9th December 1952.  “We used to have terrible fogs.  Thick fogs.  It wasn’t a bit unusual to take a torch out and hold the fence as you walked up the road.  That was the smoke in the district, the chimneys, everything.  Everybody burned coal.  We used to get thick fogs for weeks.  You would have to walk up the road with your hanky over your face.” 1

The solution was introduced to the House of Commons as a private member’s bill by Gerald Nabarro in 1956.  The Clean Air Act phased out open coal fires. 2  Smogs became a thing of the past.  Even water vapour fogs were less dense and cleared more quickly.  

1  WFOHW  interview reference number 70

2  Jerry White ‘London in the Nineteenth Century: A City and Its People’