Portable charcoal water filter, England, 1890-1902

1890-1902 in England

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Portable charcoal water filter, in cylindrical nickel plated brass case, possibly used by troops in the Boer War, probably English, 1890-1920

This water filter could be easily assembled by inserting the metal rod into the charcoal cylinder. When not in use, the charcoal could be stored in the brass case. It is thought that this filter was intended for British troops during the Boer War (1899-1902) in Southern Africa.

Filtering water had two benefits: water from dirty streams could be drunk when fresh supplies had run out; and waterborne diseases such as cholera and dysentery could be avoided. Charcoal has long been used to filter and purify water, dating back to at least 2000 BCE in India.

Related people


Public Health & Hygiene
Object Number:
case, brass (nickel plated), filter, charcoal
overall (brass case): 84 mm 43 mm, 0.064 kg
overall (water filter): 215 mm 43 mm, 0.074kg
water filter
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
  • filtration equipment - particulates
Bodenham, W.R.

Cite this page


We encourage the use and reuse of our collection data.

Data in the title, made, maker and details fields are released under Creative Commons Zero

Descriptions and all other text content are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence

Using our data


Download catalogue entry as json

Download manifest IIIF

Our records are constantly being enhanced and improved, but please note that we cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information shown on this website.