Leeds 1842 street

The 1842 street and Public Health

There is no better way to demonstrate the realities of Victorian living conditions than taking a trip down our 1842 slum street. Students will be able to see, hear and smell for themselves, the shocking conditions that led to regular outbreaks of lethal diseases such as Cholera, TB and Typhoid.

Public Health Gallery

The Public Health Act and Key individuals in Public Health Clean Up

Here you can read about The Public Health Act of 1848 and see who the key individuals were who pushed for better living conditions, such as Edwin Chadwick, Charles Booth and Joseph Bazelgette.

Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur is often referred to as the ‘Father of Microbiology’ because of his discovery that tiny organisms, which he called ‘germs’, spread disease. Here students can find out how he made the most important breakthrough in the history of the fight against disease and see for themselves the microscopic images that drove this discovery.

Robert Koch exhibit at Thackray Medical Museum

Robert Koch

Explore how Robert Koch used the findings of Louis Pasteur to isolate and identify the bacteria that caused specific diseases.

The Broad Street Pump

John Snow and the Broad Street Pump

In 1854 John Snow made one of the most significant steps forward in the fight to clean up the living conditions of people in Victorian Britain. Read about his innovative use of maps to understand how Cholera spread and how this helped people to recognise the dangers of dirty water.

Pasteur, Fleming, Lister. All images from Wellcome Images.

Key individuals in the fight against disease flipbooks

Here students can read, in more detail, information about some of the key individuals they will need to know about such as Louis Pasteur, Joseph Lister, Edward Jenner, Alexander Fleming, James Young Simpson and John Snow.

Edward Jenner smallpox display

Edward Jenner and Smallpox

Edward Jenner’s discovery of a vaccination against Smallpox was one of the key breakthroughs in the fight against disease. His discovery saved thousands of lives and halted the spread of one of the deadliest diseases in history. Here students can find out how he made his remarkable discovery and what effect this had on the fight against disease.


Alexander Fleming and Penicillin

Penicillin was known as the ‘wonder-drug’ when it was first launched into the world in 1928. Here students can read the remarkable story of how it was discovered and who moved it into the public domain in the turbulent times of the First and Second World Wars.

The video room


Watch useful and fascinating videos all about some of the biggest and most dramatic epidemics in our history. Here you can find information about Spanish Flu, AIDS, Lung Cancer and Penicillin.

Hannah Dyson's story

Surgery in the 1800’s

Our Hannah Dyson audio visual experience takes you back to the horror days of early Victorian surgery. Follow the story of 11 year-old Hannah Dyson in our realistic recreation of the amputation of her leg after an accident whilst cleaning a machine in the mill where she worked. Here students can see for themselves what life before anaesthetics and antiseptics was truly like.

James Young Simpson

James Young Simpson

The story of how Chloroform came to be used in the field of medicine and how James Young Simpson changed the landscape of surgery forever is explored here.

John Snow's Inhaller

John Snow and his Inhaler

After Simpson discovered that Chloroform could be used successfully to make surgery pain-free, John Snow set himself the task of creating a way to monitor and regulate the amount of anaesthetic that was administered to a patient. Here students can see his invention for themselves and compare it to some of the more modern anaesthetic machines we house at the museum.

Joseph Lister panel

Joseph Lister

Arguably the most important figure in the fight against bacteria in surgery, Joseph Lister’s work is explored here in detail. Here students can find out how Lister built on Pasteur’s ideas and made surgery a safer and cleaner experience for all.

Portrait of William Harvey [1578 - 1657], surgeon. Wellcome Images.

William Harvey

Harvey’s work on the heart and the circulation of blood around our bodies was ground-breaking. He successfully dispelled thousands of years of misguided beliefs and moved our understanding of how the human body works forward at a great pace. Here students can read about what he did and why it was so important.

Blood Loss

Blood Loss

Here students can investigate how people have dealt with the problem of blood loss throughout the years.


William Halstead

Here the museum tells the story of how surgical gloves came to be a requirement for anyone who worked in an operating theatre, all because of one man’s love for his nurse.


WW1- Recovery Gallery

This brand new gallery investigates the ways in which the First World War moved medical developments forward and how that progression has led us to the place we are now. War and medicine inevitably go hand in hand and in this gallery we specifically focus on Limb Loss, Hearing Loss and PTSD.