Public engagement

The Centre is involved in a variety of public engagement projects, including public talks, workshops, and our ongoing seminar series (open to all). Past projects have included the audio docu-drama Positive in Prison; and the short films and website Power and Protection. To be notified about upcoming events please join our mailing list.


The Centre for History in Public Health runs a number of seminars and talks throughout the year. Where possible, we record these events and make them available on our Mixcloud channel.


Other media such as radio and YouTube appearances by members of the Centre can be found here.


History walks

The Centre holds a number of fun and informative history walks around that that explore the scientific history of the Bloomsbury area. Walks are led Dr Ros Stanwell-Smith, a Public Health Consultant who also happens to be a Blue Badge Guide!  They are free, but numbers are limited to 20 people.

We do not currently have any upcoming walks.

John Snow pump
Blue Badge Guide Ros and the John Snow Pump


"History Around the Squares"
10 October 2018

Bloomsbury has a wealth of public health history as well as some of the finest garden squares in London.  Join us on this 1.5 hour walk to discover the interesting characters who have lived here as well as stories and secrets of this area, described in the 1830s as “a pleasant retreat from the cares of business” and still “historical, beautiful and seething with bookish charm” today.

"In the Steps of Snow"
19 September 2018

In 1854 Dr. John Snow demonstrated that a sudden outbreak of cholera was due to contamination of a water pump in Broad Street, Soho. On this walk we shall explore the history of the outbreak and also the history and architecture of the Bloomsbury and Soho areas.  The walk, led by popular guide and public health doctor Ros Stanwell-Smith, will take around 1.5 hours and end at the John Snow pub in Broadwick Street in the centre of Soho, where we can see the newly restored pump monument to the outbreak.

"The Bloomsbury and Soho Walk"
1 November 2017

This evening tour will take us from the area around the School to the intriguing streets of Soho, including public health links and the extraordinary story of Dr John Snow and the cholera outbreak of 1854.  The walk will take about 1.5 hours and end at the John Snow pub.

"Children’s Stories: a walk and visit to the Foundling Museum"
31 May 2017

The first orphanage in England was established in Brunswick Square in the mid 1700s, after a long campaign by a kind and determined sea captain.  The site of this ‘Foundling Hospital’ is now a museum and our walk will briefly cover other children’s stories in the area, including the interest taken by Charles Dickens in the Foundlings.  Don’t miss this opportunity for a great tour, including a discounted rate to see round the museum, which contains original rooms from the orphanage, mementos of the children left by their mothers, fascinating archives and audio interviews, art works donated by 18th century artists and a floor dedicated to the composer Handel, who strongly supported the orphanage.  Our guide for the walk and museum tour will be Dr. Ros Stanwell-Smith.  Allow 2 hours, plus you will have the opportunity to explore on your own or visit the Café after the tour.

"Snow and Soho"
17 May 2017

In 1854, Dr. John Snow demonstrated that a sudden outbreak of cholera was due to contamination of a water pump in Broad Street:  on this walk, we shall explore the history of the outbreak and also the history and architecture of the Bloomsbury and Soho areas.  The walk led by popular guide and public health doctor Ros Stanwell-Smith will take around 1.5 hours and end at the John Snow pub in Broadwick Street in the centre of Soho.

"Gin Lane and Beer Street: Public Health in Hogarth's London"
4 May 2017

Poverty was rife in 18th century London.  In 1751, William Hogarth made two engravings in support of attempts to curb heavy drinking by the poor, who could get “drunk for a penny or dead drunk for tuppence.”  Gin Lane, set in the St. Giles slum area, showed the consequences of vice, particularly addiction to home-made gin, while Beer Street showed the benefits of a more moderate life style.  St. Giles is very different today but on our walk, we shall trace the story of its church, plagues, prostitution and the Gin Act – as well as hearing anecdotes about Hogarth and his contemporaries and how they influenced public health.  Do join us for an exhilarating early evening tour, which will end in easy reach of Holborn tube station.

"Square Histories"
7 December 2016

Bloomsbury is famous for its pioneers – but what about their partners and friends?  Explore the locations and stories of those who shaped public health history and their sometimes long suffering companions on this walk through the great architecture and squares of the area.

"The Fearsome Cholera of 1854"
23 November 2016

Step back in time to a more dangerous London, a London where an unknown and deadly disease is casting fear into the hearts of the residents of Soho. Immerse yourself in the neighbourhoods most affected by this unknown infection and discover how the pioneering physician Dr John Snow solved the outbreak. Also hear more about the fascinating history of Soho, a stunningly innovative area for discoveries and medical progress over the centuries.

"Round the Block"
12 October 2016

This walk focuses on the history around the LSHTM ‘block’ and its surrounding streets and squares.  Before the School and Senate House were built Keppel Street stretched to Russell Square and famous inhabitants included the novelists Charles Dickens and Anthony Trollope.  It is an area packed with medical history too, from the 23 names on the LSHTM building to the many physicians and scientists who lived nearby.  Join us for a fascinating tour of Bloomsbury history.

"On the Trail of the Medical Detective"
23 March 2016

Trace the history of an infamous 19th century cholera outbreak, solved by Dr John Snow – and learn more of the medical and mysterious history of Soho. Ends at the John Snow pub.
"Stories of Bloomsbury"
11 March 2016

Traditionally one of the brainiest places in London, this trail through Bloomsbury is packed with anecdotes and stories as we follow the trail of Darwin, Dickens and dealing with malaria.


We sometimes host special screenings of films relating to the history of public health. These screenings are free and open to all. Please check our events pages for upcoming films or past events for an idea of previous film screenings.

Thanks to a generous Wellcome Trust Research Enrichment Award, we created two short films about the history of mental capacity and the Court of Protection in 2021 and screened these as part of the Being Human Festival.  Find out more about this project at its dedicated website, where you can also watch the films.


Holloway Prison: History and Health (2018)

This exhibition explored the history of HMP Holloway, the UK’s largest prison for women, which closed down in 2016. Using the issue of health and medical expertise within prisons as a common strand throughout Holloway’s history, it looks at staff and buildings, conditions, protests, and the women in prison themselves. It also reflects upon Holloway’s contested legacy, as a place of both suffering and refuge, and as a frequent inspiration for campaigns and organisations addressing women’s needs. The exhibition was made possible thanks to an award from the LSHTM’s Public Engagement Small Grants Scheme, and was produced with assistance from women with experience and knowledge of Holloway as former prisoners, staff, researchers, and campaigners. We are grateful for their time and expertise, and for support from Islington Heritage.

Find out more about Holloway and how the exhibition was created

Vaccination: Past, Present and Future (2015)

This exhibition explored the history of vaccination, some of the current challenges we face, and how we continue to research vaccine-preventable disease and strive to protect vulnerable people worldwide. Vaccine research involves much more than developing new vaccines in a laboratory. Vaccination involves people and societies: how do you convince people to accept a new inoculation? How do you develop the infrastructure to deliver it? How do you focus your efforts so that you protect as many people as possible without wasting resources?

Vaccination is one of the great success stories of public health over the past century, and has saved millions of lives all over the world. The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has long been engaged in research on many aspects of vaccination, using it to combat some of the most deadly and debilitating infectious diseases.

Improving Health in Wartime (2014)

Members of the Centre for History in Public Health  participated in the exhibition Improving Health in Wartime  held at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT organised by the School’s Library and Archives Services to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War. Talks included: 

  • Wartime Stories (LSHTM Archives): What happened when the School was bombed during the blitz? What were Sir Ronald Ross’ thoughts on being torpedoed in 1917?
  • Pharmacy and the Great War (CHiPH): The role of pharmacists during the First World War and the contribution to the war effort of the British pharmaceutical industry. A version of this talk is available free on-line.