The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain in the 18th century and led to the rapid expansion and industrialisation of many of the major British urban areas of today. Groundwater resources played an important role in the development of many of these cities. They helped to meet the increasing water demands from the emerging industries as well as providing an abundant and good-quality potable water supply for the growing population. Examples of cities in the UK where groundwater was used for such purposes include London, Birmingham, Nottingham, Liverpool, Coventry and Belfast (Fig. 4.1). These cities
will be the principal focus of this chapter because the length of time they have supported major industrial activity means they offer insights into the role of groundwater in mature urban areas. Examples of aquifers affected by urbanisation over a significant period of time, from other countries besides the UK, are also examined.