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Answer 110. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Few Londoners were prepared to part with five shillings to hear an eight-year-old playing the piano… and a foreigner at that.


IMG_4982 MozartSoho was an overcrowded place in 1764, very insanitary and unhealthy. Wolfgang’s father Leopold became seriously ill, so ill that the family decided to move to this house in Pimlico for a few weeks (see Question 34) in the hope that the cleaner air would help him recover. The Mozarts spent the summer here before moving back to Soho in September.

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Soho was still crowded and insanitary when Dr John Snow moved to Frith Street in 1838. He lived somewhere across the road from the Mozarts and John Logie Baird (no photo: a renumbering of the houses has confused the issue and the building has been demolished anyway).

BairdMozartIn 1854, there was an outbreak of cholera in Broad Street (now Broadwick Street), just around the corner from Frith Street. In Snow’s words, ‘it was the most terrible outbreak of cholera which ever occurred in this kingdom’.

No fewer than 127 people died in the first three days, rising to 500 after ten days. The figure would have been much higher if three quarters of the local population hadn’t fled elsewhere.

The victims had all died of cholera, but how had they caught it? Medical consensus had it that cholera was carried by foul air, but Dr Snow wasn’t so sure. He wondered if there wasn’t some other cause. To test his theory, he investigated the outbreak of cholera around Broad Street and arrived at a startling conclusion.

HISTORIC LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT. Question 111. Dr Snow had discovered how cholera is transmitted. What had he found out?

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Five Days That Shocked the World

‘Riveting’ – Daily Mail
‘Fascinating’ – The Times
‘Outstanding’ – Midwest Book Review
‘Utterly absorbing’ – Macleans