Mass of restaurant fat and grease turned into London museum exhibit

A piece of Thames Water’s infamous Whitechapel Fatberg – partly created from the poor waste practices of local restaurants and cafes – is set to be seen by visitors from across the globe in the coming months as it takes centre stage in a new display at the Museum of London.

The unique exhibit called ‘Fatberg!’ opened to the public on Friday February 9 and will showcase not only what fatbergs are, but how they form and how they are removed from London’s sewer network by specialist Thames Water teams.

It is the first time a fatberg has been on display in a museum in the UK.

The Whitechapel fatberg rose to fame last year. Weighing a colossal 130 tonnes, the equivalent of 11 double decker buses and stretching over 250 metres – more than twice the length of the Wembley football pitch – workers took nine weeks to remove it from the sewer.  

Thames Water engineers have visited food outlets to discuss how they dispose of fat and food waste, plus offer advice on grease trapping equipment for commercial kitchens.

The museum has worked with industry experts and carried out scientific analysis in order to conserve a sample to display in specially sealed units.

Vyki Sparkes, curator of social and working history at the Museum of London, said: “We’re so excited to be able to display the last remaining piece of the Whitechapel fatberg. At the Museum of London we highlight the highs and lows of living in this great capital city and aim to draw attention to contemporary issues facing Londoners today.

“The existence of this fatberg highlights the pressures fat and modern rubbish are putting on London’s historic infrastructures and is an important comment on our increasingly disposable society.”

‘Fatberg!’ will be on display the museum until the end of June. Entry is free.

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