Manuscripts and Special Collections

Activity 4: Thomas Hawksley

Enquiry Question

How much did the inhabitants of Sun Street owe to Thomas Hawksley?


  • Gain an understanding on why water and sanitation reforms were introduced
  • Use original documents to explain the impact these reforms had on living conditions


  • Picture 1 - Portrait of Thomas Hawksley, by H. Herkomer A.R.A. (1887), reproduced by Thos Kell and Son in Memoir of Mr. Thomas Hawksley: Excerpt [from] Minutes of Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers. Vol. 117. Session 1893-94. Part 3 (London, 1894) (East Midlands Collection Pamphlet Not 3.V38 HAW)
  • Picture 2 - Woman collecting water from a communal water pump on Malt Mill Lane, Narrow Marsh area, 1931 (Picture the Past, NTGM000962)
  • Picture 3 - Trent Bridge Pumping Station, c.1896 (Picture the Past, NTGM006601)
  • Document 1 - Extracts from the evidence of Thomas Hawksley, First Report of the Commissioners for Inquiring into the State of Large Towns and Populous Districts. Minutes of Evidence, pp. 298-331; 1844 (572), XVII.1
  • Document 2 - Thomas Hawksley's obituary from The Times, 25 Sep. 1893 (4 pages)
  • Document 3 - Extracts from the Nottingham Enclosure Act, 'An Act for inclosing Lands in the Parish of Saint Mary in the Town and County of the Town of Nottingham', 1845 (East Midlands Special Collection Oversize Not 1.H4) (2 pages)
  • Document 4 - Extract from John Snow, On the Mode of Communication of Cholera (London: John Churchill, 1855)
  • Document 5 - Description of Nottingham in 1873. Extracts from Edward Seaton, A report on the sanitary condition of the borough of Nottingham (1873) (East Midlands Special Collection Not 3.G66 SEA) (3 pages)


Outline Starter

  • Teacher to put up the portrait of Thomas Hawksley (Picture 1) on OHP/ PowerPoint. Don't initially tell the pupils anything.
  • Q and A using Worksheet 1:
  • Who do you think this man is?
  • Do you think he was rich?
  • What job do you think he did?
  • What can we learn about this man from the portrait?
  • Why do you think he was significant in the 19th century?


  • Now place up the picture of the woman collecting water from the street (Picture 2). Discuss the photo. It was taken early 20th century.

    Is the woman collecting or dumping water?

  • Explain to pupils that there is a link between the man and the picture of the woman and their task of the lesson is to identify the link by working through original evidence.
  • Evidence that the pupils will have:
    • Picture 3: Photograph of water works;
    • Document 1: Transcript from Thomas Hawksley's evidence;
    • Document 2: Obituary (4 pages);
    • Document 3: Extracts from the Nottingham Enclosure Act, 1845 (2 pages);
    • Document 5: Report on Sanitary conditions in the Borough of Nottingham by Edward Seaton (3 pages);
  • Use the 'How are we connected' worksheet 2 to collate information
  • Then complete the info on referring back to Sun Street


  • What still needed to be done to improve conditions in Sun Street?

Alternative options

  • Background information about Hawksley, supplied as supplementary background knowledge to their investigation. (See the Lesson Guide for some background information)
  • Any research material the school may have i.e. library resources, book boxes, internet.


Next: Activity 5 - "Things can only get better"


Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 4565
fax: +44 (0) 115 846 8651

Page setup