December 22, 2004
Remembering John By

Remembering John who? and by what? – is what you may well now be thinking. Well, pay attention.

This afternoon I found myself on the south bank of the Thames, just up river from St Thomas' Hospital. It's the bit where you get this familiar London view:

JohnByParl.jpg

Then I turned through about forty five degrees and got this rather unusual view of the Wheel:

JohnByWheel.jpg

The light was fading fast, but my little camera makes the least worst light it sees into good light. I actually had to Photoshop it a bit darker.

But enough of such tourist shots, which I only show you to say where I was when I saw what really got me interested, which was what I saw when I turned around some more, and faced away from the river. It was a plaque, which I had never noticed before.

JohnBy1.jpg

Do what I did. Take a closer look. And be grateful for the lamp in the second picture above for lighting it up. The plaque commemorates a man and an achievement of which I had previously known absolutely nothing.

JohnBy2.jpg

When I got home I found out more about John By, and was also able to satisfy myself that the phrase "introduced malaria" is not a mistake, but an all too real a condition. More about Malaria here.

Just one of those little London pleasures, and this one is quite recent. As you can maybe make out from right at the bottom of the plaque, it was erected by the Historical Society of Ottawa as recently as 1997.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 11:03 PM
Category: HistoryLondon