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The great London smog of 1952

In 1852, a century before the Great Smog, Charles Dickens famously described London in his novel Bleak House: “Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping, and the waterside pollution of a great (and dirty) city”


Natural Sciences


This talk and chaired debate will tell the tale of the Great Smog – also known as the “Big Smoke” - which was a severe air pollution event that affected London in December 1952. The focus will be on the chronology of the event; how technology and legislation has significantly reduced the impacts of some air pollutants in the UK; and how air pollution problems still exist and need attention.

Why this is important

Air pollution is estimated to cause ~2 million premature deaths worldwide each year.

Key descriptors

Environment; air pollution; London; history.

Year groups

Ideal – Years 11, 12

Acceptable – Years 9, 10


Professor Ian Williams

Book this workshop

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