The great smog of London in 1952 was so bad that pedestrians couldn’t even see their feet. Some of the 4,000 who died in the 5 days it lasted didn’t suffer lung problems – they fell into the Thames and drowned because they could not see the river

60 years since the great smog of London – in pictures

A London Transport inspector holding a flare leads a bus out of the terminus at Aldgate East as dense fog blanketed London, causing widespread traffic chaos. The great smog stopped traffic and trains, theatres and cinemas closed because the audience could not see the stage, prize cattle died at Smithfield show at Earl’s Court, and the undertakers ran out of coffins

Morning traffic at Blackfriars, London, almost at a standstill because of the blanket smog. There had been smogs before, in every major conurbation. But London was the world’s biggest city at the time and nearly all of its 8 million inhabitants used open coal fires. The blanket of cold air from the continent which became stationary over the capital caused the warm, smoke-lade… Continue Reading (2 minute read)

15 thoughts on “The great smog of London in 1952 was so bad that pedestrians couldn’t even see their feet. Some of the 4,000 who died in the 5 days it lasted didn’t suffer lung problems – they fell into the Thames and drowned because they could not see the river”

  1. Jackalodeath

    So – hear me out – isn’t drowning still a lung problem technically?

  2. Scrolling2Oblivian

    There’s also anecdotal reports that blind people acted as guides for commuters, helping them find their way back home

  3. MrCaul

    I learned about this from The Crown.

    Yes, I am an ignorant doofus.

  4. Getseriass

    My Ma was born in 55 and remembers going up to London as a child even in the 60s, if you picked your nose on the ride back home, your snot was jet black.

  5. FX114

    “Some of the 4,000 who died” feels incredibly vague. Like, one person is technically some of the 4,000.

  6. RinoaDave

    My dad grew up in London around this time and he has described to me how on bad smog days he had to memorise what people’s front garden walls looked like to know where he was.

  7. godlessnihilist

    It is the first of two agro-burning seasons here in Thailand and all over Asia, so the air quality is in the Hazardous range, eventually to reach dangerous levels with a +400AQI not unheard of. I’ve been wearing N95 masks for years. The second season in October is worse because wind patterns shift and bring smoke from Indonesian palm oil burning northwest.

  8. laneaster

    We have this in Sarajevo every year

  9. KeithMyArthe

    My dad and a friend caught the last bus home. The bus was moving at walking pace because visibility was so bad.

    They decided to jump off the moving bus at a point they thought was a shorter walk home than the next bus stop… dad made it on to the sidewalk OK, but his friend leaped face first into a telegraph pole and spent the night at the local hospital.

    Just 62 years later dad’s friend got dementia.

  10. DOG-ZILLA

    This is why people across the UK sometimes refer to London as “the big smoke”.

  11. james___uk

    Wait, NINETEEN fifty two, crikey

  12. ZedZebedee

    I remember my granddad telling me about this. He said you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face and peoplenhad to walk in front of the cars so they could see where they were going. I was too little to as why anyone would jump in a car in fog that thick but then again in the 80’s the didn’t even have seat belts in the back of the car.

  13. ksiyoto

    And the libertarians would say we don’t need pollution regulation because everybody will look out for their enlightened self-interest……

  14. Andagaintothegym

    I read that as Smaug of London. I need to sleep.

  15. AdvocateSaint

    And noobs continue to wonder why FPS games have smoke grenades

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