The 'Whitechapel fatberg' (Image: Thames Water)
Part of the 'Whitechapel fatberg' (Image: Thames Water)

The fatberg has officially become an emblem of our times. The smelly conglomeration of fat deposits, toilet waste and towelettes that clog the sewers under London is to the 21st century what the night-time activities of the night soil men were to the Victorians.

For a salami slice of the bloated monster found beneath the streets of London could find itself in the Museum of London, alongside Roman artefacts, cockney ephemera and the Olympic cauldron.

No sooner had the slug of off-cuts been exposed than the museum was after a slice of the inaction. The fatberg weighs more than 10 double-decker buses and is more than twice the length of the Wembley football pitch, is made up of wet wipes, nappies and hardened cooking fat, and has clogged up a stretch of Victorian sewer under the busy Whitechapel Road.

Museum director Sharon Ament said the fatberg could be “one of the most extraordinary objects in any museum collection in London” and could provoke questions around modern-day life in big cities.

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She said: “It is important for the Museum of London to display genuine curiosities from past and present London.

“If we are able to acquire the fatberg for our collection I hope it would raise questions about how we live today and also inspire our visitors to consider solutions to the problems of growing metropolises.”

The museum is currently examining the fate of urban life in its City Now, City Future exhibition.

Engineers have started to break down the structure this week using high-powered jet hoses before pulling the waste up into tankers and sending it to a nearby disposal site. Thames Water said the work to remove the fatberg will continue throughout September.

The company has urged customers not to flush offending items and to throw cooking oil in the bin after letting it cool and solidify.

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