Who needs doctors anyway? A history of public health

All aboard for a magical mystery tour as we travel far and wide to find out that some of the biggest life savers in the story of human health aren’t medics at all…

Joseph Bazalgette as snakeToday, medical practitioners and professionals are held – quite properly – in extremely high esteem.

But is the common view that the huge advances in our well being of the last 250 years come down to the role of doctors entirely true?

Take this tour to learn how Joseph Bazalgette (left) may have saved the lives of more Londoners than almost any other Victorian.

As we journey our way through the heart of the capital’s West End,  we’ll find out how changes to the way in which we rear and live with animals, buy and store food have saved tens of thousands from disease, while pollution could have have claimed more souls than cholera, by violent and unexpected means we may only just be beginning to understand.

London red bus

We discover how a study into bus conductors unearthed the connection between exercise and coronary heart disease and the way in which mass house building helped rid Britain of dreaded typhus.

From sewers to vaccines, swimming baths to cold storage, healthy eating to smoke free heating, this is the story of public health and the pioneers that helped create a world in which fewer of us get sick in the first place. 

And if we can stay healthy… ‘Who needs doctors anyway?’

To arrange a private group tour at any time contact us by email at discovermedicallondon@gmail.com 

For public tour dates (when available) click here to visit the Our Calendar page.

The walk commences in the medicinal garden of Royal College of Physicians and lasts between 2½ and 3 hours*.

The tour costs £12.50-15** per person.


* Tours do not include a visit to the interior of the Royal College of Physicians.

** This walk includes the option of an escorted visit to the Wellcome Collection or National Gallery for £2.50 extra per person. Please ask about a museum visit when making your booking. Private tours are subject to a minimum group fee for parties of 14 persons or fewer.

“Who needs doctors anyway?” is available as a private tour at any time by prior arrangement. 

For further details or to make a group booking for a private tour please contact us at  discovermedicallondon@gmail.com 

Click here for a map and directions to the Royal College of Physicians.