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SKETCHES AND ILLUSTRATIONS
OF BETHNAL GREEN
OF THE CONDITION OF THE METROPOLIS
AND OTHER LARGE TOWNS
HECTOR GAVIN, M.D. F.R.C.S.E
MEMBER OF THE COMMITTEE OF THE
HEALTH OF TOWNS AND OF LONDON ASSOCIATIONS
LECTURER ON FORENSIC MEDICINE, AND PUBLIC HEALTH
JOHN CHURCHILL, PRINCES STREET, SOHO.
"I believe that the highest attainable salubrity may be secured to cities and towns, by attention to matters that, with us, have been very much neglected; that by a proper construction of habitations, a proper ventilation, sewerage, supply of water, and the daily removal of refuse of every kind by scavengers, a town population may become quite as healthy as that of the country.-Martin. Second Report, Health of Towns Commission, p. 118.
I turned into an alley 'neath the wall-
And stepped from earth to hell.-The light of Heaven,
The common air was narrow, gross, and dim-
The tiles did drop from the eaves; the unhinged doors
Tottered o'er inky pools, where reeked and curdled
The offal of a life; the gaunt-haunched swine
Growled at their christened playmates o'er the scraps.
Shrill mothers cursed; wan children wailed; sharp coughs
Rang through the crazy chambers; hungry eyes
Glared dumb reproach, and old perplexity,
Too stale for words; o'er still and webless rooms,
The listless craftsmen through their elf-locks scowled.
THE SAINT'S TRADEGY [-sic-] .-KINGSLEY.
TO THE MOST NOBLE
THE MARQUIS OF NORMANBY,
PRESIDENT OF THE HEALTH OF TOWNS' ASSOCIATION.
No one has a higher claim to the regard of all those who
have enrolled themselves under the banner of Sanitary Reform than
your Lordship. Whether as President of the Health of Towns' Association, or as a Peer of the Realm, your Lordship has ever, in the proper
place, and at the proper time, manifested the most anxious desire to
provide for the physical welfare (and with the physical welfare, the
moral and social amelioration) of your countrymen. Early in the field,
earnest in the cause, constant in your efforts, and ready to battle prejudice and ignorance, is the history of your career. While the band of
Sanitary Reformers was like but a hand's breadth in the horizon, then
were you their chief; and when, now, they are numbered by their hundreds, and their thousands, and when the feeling of the country has
responded to your enlightened and benevolent designs, it becomes all
who have fought under your standard, and numbered themselves your
followers, to testify their respect to you, my Lord, who have so constantly, and so ably, advocated their cause. It is with such feelings that
I beg to dedicate to your Lordship the following pages, in the hope that
that result will follow which would be most acceptable to you ; namely,
the arousing in the minds of local authorities and of the gentry the [-2-] desire to afford to the working population "the modest comforts of an
English home, and that "sound condition of body and mind, without
which no luxury can be enjoyed, and with which there is hardly any
privation that may not be endured.
I have the honour to be,
Your Lordship's most obedient servant,
[-3-] REPORT, &c.
IN undertaking to draw up a Report on the present sanitary condition of the
pariah of Bethnal-green, I was actuated by the conviction that I should find in
operation in that parish all those leading elements which tend to deteriorate the
health, and prematurely to destroy no inconsiderable proportion of the population of large towns. I was also actuated by the conviction that it was impossible
to account for the profound indifference which prevails amongst a great part of
the people generally, and which is undoubtedly participated in by the authorities
of this populous parish, itself constituting no mean town, with regard to the
existence of the agents which injure health, and destroy life, but by believing
that they were ignorant as to the amount and extent of the ills which they endured. To believe that the middle and upper classes were fully cognisant that
multitudes of their fellow-beings have their health injured, their lives sacrificed,
their property squandered, their morals depraved, and the efforts to christianise
them set at nought by the existence of certain well-defined agents, and yet to
find them either making no effort to alleviate, or to remove these misfortunes, or
with a stern heart denying their existence, would be to charge these classes with
the most atrocious depravity, and the most cruel heartlessness and selfish
abandonment. It is impossible to suppose that love and charity are so utterly
unknown to this great Metropolis, celebrated beyond all other cities for the
magnificence of its public charities and the vastness of its benevolent contributions. I have, then, but to lay bare the naked truth, as to the state of one part
of this vast city; and I believe that the hearts of many will be warmed and their
spirits aroused to assist those who have undertaken the great work of sanitary
improvement and social amelioration.
I am strengthened in the conviction which I entertain, and which I have thus put forth, by the opinions of men who have dedicated abilities of no common order to the elucidation of the bearings of the sanitary question on the poor and on the rich. " I have universally observed in this district," says Dr. Reid, "that a thorough and distinct exposition of the realities of that amount of discomfort, disease, and death, that are justly attributable to causes that may be easily reduced in virulence, will lead numbers to assist in the amelioration of the condition of the poor, as they become more sensibly alive to the great benefits that arise from a little timely assistance or interference, and to the magnitude of those evils that oppress so many of our fellow-creatures, and to which millions are habitually exposed, without that consciousness of their existence which is essential for the development and prosecution of active measures of relief."
Owing to the vastness of London, says Mr. Martin,- owing to the moral gulf which there separates the various classes of its inhabitants - its several [-4-] quarters may be designated as assemblages of towns rather than as one city; and so it is in a social sense, and on a smaller scale, in other towns; the rich know nothing of the poor; the mass of misery that festers beneath the affluence of London and of the great towns is not known to their wealthy occupants. This arises not from want of kindly feeling or charity towards the poor; far from it, but from the absence of such institutions as should call the attention of the higher and of the wealthy classes to this subject.
It is true, that some partial attempts have been made to display, both locally and generally, many of the remediable ills which the inhabitants of London endure; hut no complete elucidation of the sanitary state of any one district has as yet been prominently brought forward for the purpose of securing the sympathy of the public. This attempt I have made in the following pages. I have greatly to regret that the difficulties thrown in my way in my endeavours to procure information have been very considerable. Nevertheless, I believe that the exposition which is made will be quite sufficient to secure for me the great end at which I aim, namely, on the part of the public, and of individuals, a more extended acquaintance with the state in which many thousands of their fellow-beings exist; a more correct knowledge of the causes which produce the mortality, pauperism, immorality, and crime which are the lot of so many of those born in suffering poverty; and a more profound conviction not only of the facility of removing many of the deteriorating and destructive influences, but of the absolute necessity of actively and energetically setting about the work of their suppression.
I cannot but believe that when the rich and affluent who reside in the parish of Bethnal Green, and there are some both rich and affluent, and when the authorities become acquainted with the true bearings of the evils produced by the neglect of sanitary measures, they will at least avail themselves of the means which are at present within their power, to cleanse and purify the foul streets and filthy dwellings of their miserable fellow parishioners.
I am firmly convinced that were they only to cleanse their streets, remove the dust and garbage-heaps from the houses and dwellings of the poor, and cleanse, or cause to be cleansed, the filthy cesspools and privies which everywhere pollute the surface of this dirty parish; nay, were they only effectually to put into operation Lord Morpeth's Act for the suppression of nuisances, they would effect an amount of good of which they have no conception; they would obtain the approbation of every right-thinking inhabitant, and the blessing of thousands of the neglected and suffering, yet patient, poor.
I beg to return my best thanks to the Registrar-General for his great politeness and attention in affording me every facility for acquiring an exact knowledge of the mortality of the parish. I have also to return my warmest thanks to the parochial medical officers, who, with the generous sympathy so continually manifested by the members of their liberal but ill-remunerated profession. gave me their valuable aid, day after day, in prosecuting my inquiries. I trust that the exposition of their labours, contained in this Report, may not be without its effect in obtaining for them a more liberal remuneration for their services.
[-5-] The parish of Bethnal Green has long possessed an unenviable notoriety on account of its neglected state and defective sanitary condition. It forms one or the eastern districts of the Metropolis - districts which are the most unhealthy of all comprised in the Metropolitan Registration Returns. They invariably suffer much more than the other metropolitan districts from epidemics and unusual causes of mortality.
Thus, if we take the mortality above the average of the last five autumns, corrected for the increase of the population, during the week ending Nov. 27' arising from influenza, we shall find-
That while the increase in the mortality of the west districts was 22.6 per cent.
In the south districts it was 41.6 -
In the north districts 45.1 -
In the central districts 62.2 -
In the east districts l02.9 -
In the east districts of London, therefore, the mortality has been more than doubled by the prevalence of influenza.
Bethnal Green has an area of one square mile and four-ninths, of which at least one-third consists of an open space. It is bounded on the north by the healthy parish of Hackney, and the unhealthy parish of Shoreditch; on the west it is likewise bounded by Shoreditch; on the south it is bounded by the still more unhealthy districts of Spitalfields, Mile-end New Town, Whitechapel, and Mile-end Old Town; on the east, except for about 300 yards, it is bounded by Poplar.
The parish of Bethnal Green is divided into four districts; namely, the Green, the Church, the Town, and the Hackney-road districts. These are likewise the registration districts.
The Green district is by far the largest in extent. It lies to the east of' the parish, and is bounded on the north by South Hackney, on the east by Poplar, on the south by Mile-end Old Town, and on the west by the Hackney-road, and the Church districts. By far the greater part of this space is open and uncovered by buildings; it contains the workhouse, and Dr. Warburton's lunatic asylum, Globe Town, and the Cambridge-road. To the north-east is a portion of the Victoria Park. The district may appropriately be termed suburban, as it forms the very outskirt of London in the eastern direction. There are two cemeteries in this district,-the North-east London Cemetery, in the hands of a private gentleman, and the Victoria Park Cemetery, possessed by a company.
The Church district is only about one-fourth or one-fifth the size of the Green district. It is bounded on the north by the Hackney-road district, on the east by the Green district, on the south by Whitechapel and the Town district, and on the east by the Town district. With the exception of the open spaces, on either side of the railway, formed by the erasement of numerous houses and some streets, there are no wide open spaces. The houses cannot, however, be said to be densely crowded together. It contains no public buildings (except churches). This district contains two large grave-yards, possessed by the Jews.
The Town District is still smaller than the Church district. It lies between [-6-] the Hackney-road and Church districts on the north, and the last-mentioned district on the east; Spitalfields and Mile-end New Town on the south; and part of the Hackney-road district and Shoreditch on the west. The whole of this district may be said to be closely built on, and densely crowded, presenting the very opposite characters to the Green district. There are no open spaces whatever in this district.
The Hackney-road district is about the same size as the Church district. It is bounded on the north by Shoreditch and South Hackney; on the east by the Green district; on the south by the Town and Church districts; and on the west by Shoreditch. This district maybe subdivided into two-the Hackney-road district proper, which constitutes the fifth medical relief district, and that portion which adjoins, and really forms part of the Town district. The Hackney-road district proper is chiefly composed of a better class of buildings: the other is characterised by everything that can disgrace a town.
The parish is likewise divided by the guardians of the poor into five medical relief districts. As this division is a much more perfect one, in a sanitary point of view, than the poor-rate and registration division, I shall adopt it in giving an account of the parish.
The first of the medical relief districts contains the Green district.
The second consists of the greater part of the Church district.
The third consists of the greater part of the Town district and a small part of the Church district.
The fourth, which is bounded on the east by Shoreditch, consists of the worst part of the Hackney-road division, and a part of the Town district.
The fifth consists of the Hackney-road district, with the exception of the worst part, which has been transferred to No. 4 division.
This district is remarkable, as being the eastern outskirt of London, nearly
as far it extends from north to south. To the north, as to the east, this district
is perfectly free. The north-eastern portion contains a small part of the Victoria
Park -a park which Lord Morpeth, with the most earnest desire to advance the
physical welfare of the inhabitants of the dense localities in its vicinity, has rendered extremely attractive, and in which he has provided the requisites for various
gymnastic exercises. An artificial water is likewise being formed, at his desire,
for the purpose of affording to the weary and soiled artizan the refreshment of
bathing. In this district there has likewise, in connection with the Victoria
Park, and through the Woods and Forests, been lately laid down nearly half a
mile of main sewer, which will serve effectually to drain the ground, which has
been prepared for building on, west of the park. Besides this free space, this
district contains large open pieces of ground within itself; namely, Bethnal Green,
and the extensive piece of ground south of it, reaching to the railway, which has
recently been provided by Dr. Warburton for the use of the lunatics in his establishment. The houses are scattered, and there is abundance of space. We are
not therefore to look for those diseases which are peculiar to over-crowded districts. There are, however, two elements of a high mortality in the returns for
this district; first, the workhouse, which shall be considered separately; and
next, Dr. Warburton's lunatic asylum, which will follow it. The houses in the
direction of Old Ford are remarkable for their great deficiency of drainage mid for
their dirty streets, but there are, comparatively, few courts, and still fewer alleys;
where they do exist, however, they are in no respect superior to the filthy hovels
and wretched abodes common to the third, fourth, and fifth districts. The gradual conversion of summer-houses, cabins, and wooden-sheds into human habitations is to be remarked, in its elementary stage, in Whisker's-gardens.
The contrast between the condition of the common and Macadamized roads in most parts of this district, and those in Cambridge-road and Palestine-place, may be considered as the extreme. In the former there is scarcely any drainage or sewerage; in the latter they are both excellent. The former are always very dirty, sometimes abominably filthy; the latter are always clean.
The following are the details of my investigations into the condition of this district, and the result of my personal inspections; -
CAMBRIDGE-ROAD, 1, may be said to extend from Hackney-turnpike to Mile-end-gate. This includes Bethnal-green and the Dog-row. This road from Hackney is kept clean; it continues clean till it approaches towards Mile-end- gate, where it becomes extremely dirty, and where refuse and garbage are frequently to be found on its surface. The gutters here become full, and mud- heaps are to be found every few yards; the footpath has been well paved. Notwithstanding the great traffic on this road, and the great importance of efficient sewerage, there is no sewer from the north side of Bethnal-green to Three Colt- lane, and the greater part of the Dog-row is likewise without a sewer. The difference of the cleanliness of the branch streets, where there is efficient sewerage, from the filthiness where there is none, or inefficient sewerage, is most marked. On the west side of Cambridge-road, north of Bethnal-green, there is a very dirty yard, where dung-heaps abound, and pig-styes omit offensive effluvia.
GEORGE-ST., O. B. G. R., 2.-The gutters here are loaded with foetid filth, which accumulates from the surface-drains of the houses. This filth passes by an open ditch into the neighbouring brick-field, first receiving the contents of a small ditch which runs at the back of the houses.
PEACOCK-ALLEY, 3.-This is a duster of miserable houses; the gutter fronting them is full of most foetid, muddy filth; dust, and garbage-heaps are common. Two stand-pipes supply eleven houses with water, but there is no receptacle to receive, and preserve it; the want of such a receptable is grievously complained of. 3s. 3d. are the rent of each house, consisting of two rooms, one on the ground floor (which is very damp), and a garret.
PARADISE-ROW, 4.-This row of houses fronts Bethnal-green; at the north end, it is an alley. These houses present all the external characters of decency and comfort; nevertheless, the following fact will explain how much the health of the inhabitants is dependent on external circumstances :-A gentleman, named [-8-] Knight, rashly, and in ignorance of the locality, purchased the lease of No. 1, which forms the eastern end of Bethnal-green-road. Immediately after taking up his residence there he became ill, and, shortly after, died of typhus, in an aggravated form. On inspection of the neighbouring premises, I discovered Paradise Dairy immediately behind his house. In this dairy sixteen cows and twenty swine are usually kept. The animal remains and decomposing vegetable refuse were piled up a considerable height above a hollow adapted to receive them. This conservation of the refuse takes place in order that a sufficiently large quantity may accumulate. Moreover, the soakage from the neighbouring privies found its way into this receptacle for manure and filth. The surface of the yard was dirty and covered with refuse. Even in the street, the offensiveness of this nuisance was obviously apparent to every passer-by. The occupiers of this dairy nevertheless asserted the place to be perfectly clean and wholesome.
MOCKFORD BUILDINGS, 5.-This is a blind court or alley containing five houses. The houses are two-roomed, and let for 3s. a week. In one room seven persons slept, and six now sleep; the seventh died of pneumonia. The four children of the parties who reside in this wretchedly damp place have all been ill with low fever. The room in which they sleep is 9 feet by 7 in width and 7˝ feet high.
SUFFOLK-ST., &c, 6.-The roadway of this street is in the most deplorably filthy condition; north of the railway it is a perfect quagmire. Garbage and refuse of all sorts are deposited by the side of the wall. By the side of the arch, No. 100, is a low yard, from which the most offensive smells arise. The place is excessively filthy, and abominably dirty.
BARNSLEY-ALLEY, 7.-There is an open space in front of this alley, covered with garbage.
NEW SOMRFORD-ST., 8.-The road is broken up, and excessively dirty.
NORFOLK-ST., CAMBRIDGE-ROAD, 9.-This street is in a very dirty condition, with mud-heaps scattered over it every yard or two.
CROSS-ST., CAMBRIDGE-ROAD, 10.-This street is similarly covered with mud- heaps.
NORTHAMPTON-ST., CAMBRIDG-ROAD, 11.-This street likewise is covered with mud-heaps. There is a cow-yard in it.
DARLING-ROW, CAMBRIDGE-ROAD, 12.-Similar mud-heaps encumber this street.
ESSEX-ST., NOTHAMPTON-ST., 13.-Mud-heaps and scattered garbage, and collections of dung and refuse encumber this street.
JOHN-ST., 14.- On entering one of the houses in this dirty street, I found four persons sleeping in a room six feet high, and seven feet by eight in width, Nearly the whole space was taken up with the bed and a few articles of furniture.
JOHN'S COURT, JOHN-ST., 15.-There is but one stand tap to the four houses, which are very damp. They are two-roomed, and the rent is 2s. 6d. a week.
[-9-] GARDEN-PLACE, JAMES-ST., 16- Is entered by a narrow alley, three or four houses are stuck on the damp clay, with small yards in front, on which every kind of refuse is thrown. No dust heaps are accumulated, but the refuse is left to lie where it is thrown. Fever has been very prevalent in this place, in one house nearly every inmate has been attacked. In the alley leading to these horrid and neglected spots is a large pig-stye; it is close to the houses, and emits the most disgusting and sickening odours. I could not remain to make notes of this place, so overpowering was the abominable stench.
JAMES-ST., 17.-In this street there is a very large yard, in which stores of waste tin, zinc, &c., are preserved and sorted. Although the place cannot be termed an offensive nuisance, nevertheless the gradual accumulation of refuse, which necessarily takes places, causes the surface of the ground in wet weather to emit unwholesome effluvia. There is likewise in this street, a small yard for the collection of ashes, and dust, and dirt of various kinds. These are preserved and sorted. There is also in this yard garbage and manure-heaps. At the end of the street there is another tin yard, not quite so large as the one just mentioned. This street though very dirty, and with the gutters full of offensive black slime and mud, is not now in the impassable state described by Dr. Southwood Smith nine years and a-half ago. This I attribute to an excellent sewer which passes from the south-east of Bethnal-green, the whole length of Green-street. Neither do I find there the nightman's-yard which he describes, and which I therefore presume, has been done away with.
ELY-PLACE, DIGBY-PLACE, 18.-This place is in a most dilapidated state; most of the houses are in a wretched condition. Two of the houses are considerably below the level of the alley. Even now, on a dry frosty day, the soil in front of them is very wet, but after rains the hollow becomes a swamp. Much sickness and disease always prevail here. In one room I found five persons residing, two were ill with fever.
DIGBY-ST., GLOBE-ROAD. 19.-In this moat dirty street, exists one of the most atrocious nuisances which it is possible to create. One cannot conceive the toleration of such an abomination by the law, without being overwhelmed with amazement and regret, I would almost say, despondency . A person named Baker, lately dead, here formed a receptable for every kind of manure. The premises have a frontage of 450 feet, and are about 140 feet in depth. With the exception of a small space in front, and on either side, the whole of the area is filled with every variety of manure in every stage of offensive and disgusting decomposition; the manure is piled up to a considerable height, and is left to dry in the sun; but, besides this table mountain of manure, extensive and deep lakes of putrefying night soil are dammed up with the more solid dung, and refuse, forming together, mountain and lake, a scene of the most disgusting character; degrading alike to its late possessor and to the authorities who permit its existence. If foul privies, and overflowing cesspools are justly considered sources of disease and death, - if they are correctly termed insidious and fatal poisons,- if it be impossible as is stated by the Government Commissioners, that any [-10-] people can be healthy who live on a soil permeated by cesspools-in what light must we consider this wholesale manufactory of a poison, at once most disgusting and most deadly, and how shall we regard those who supinely and apathetically submit their own fellow-beings to its lethal operation. The decomposing organic particles which are ever being set free from this putrescent mass, are wafted by each wind that blows, over a population to whom they bring disease and death, as surely as, though more insidiously than, the deadly simoom.
DIGBY WALK, GLOBE ROAD, 19.- In fit character with the distressing and degrading scene last visited, is this alley, which is in a state of the most beastly dirt. More than half of this horrid alley is covered with a stagnant pool of most offensive and filthy slime, and mud, in some places, to the depth of a foot. Some of the houses, which abut on it, are unfinished, but the yards of the older houses present a character little dissimilar to the stagnant gutter, or ditch itself. The refuse from a pig-stye drains into this gutter, and adds pungency to its offensiveness. This place is private property, and the landlord of the new houses has built a cesspool, into which to drain his houses, but he will not permit the other houses in the alley to drain into this cesspool, unless the parish pay to him 1l., a sum which it will not pay. Verily, one case of typhus would cost much more than the small sum asked to keep this place clean.
BAKER-STREET, GREEN-STREET, 20.-One of the yards in this street is in a filthy state, and contains a heap of manure.
KNOTTISFORD-STREET, 21.-At the end of this street there is a cow-yard; pigs are likewise kept here. The place sends off most offensive smells.
CHARLES~STREET, 22.- Garbage and refuse are freely distributed on the surface of this dirty street.
CEMETERY-PLACE, 23.-Consists of a few wretched houses, near the Victoria Park Cemetery.
WEST-STREET, GREEN-STREET, 24.-This street is most filthy. Many of the houses on the south side are below the level of the road, and are consequently very damp.
VIOLET-ROW, 25.-This is an excessively dirty place. In front of the houses, in this row, there is a small space which is covered with muddy and slimy pools, with garbage, and with refuse heaps.
HARROLD-STREET, GREEN-STREET, 26.-In No. 10 in this street I found eight persons, who live and sleep in one room. The room is 10 feet by 6 feet, and 9 feet high. The bed and furniture filled no inconsiderable portion of the room; the children had low fever. The house contains two rooms on the ground floor, and a work-room above; another family occupied the other room. For the one room, and the use of part of the work-room, 2s. 9d. a week are paid. At the corner of this place is a large open brick field.
TYPE-STREET, GREEN-STREET, 27.-This street must have been intended as a type of the rest of the district which I had to visit. It was in the most filthy state possible, the stagnant pools of fetid, and putrid mud with their green scum, presented an aspect as offensive to the sight, as the smell was repulsive: [-11-] pig-styes and dung-heaps heightened the foulness of the effluvia, and rendered the place horrible. Towards the end of this street is an opening for the commencement of a new street. A pool of foetid slime, twenty-three yards long, fills up part of the opening. A gutter, cut in the roadway, conducts the slimy refuse from the filthy street into this pond; two small gutters likewise lead into it from separate houses.
SYDNEY-STREET, GREEN-STREET, 28.-The same kind of thickened, black, slimy, and putrescent mud, with the green scum of vegetable life sprouting on its surface, fills the gutters and hollows of this street; a pig-stye abutting on it increases the sum of nuisances.
CROSS-STREET, GREEN-STREET, 29.- This street is utterly beastly, the gutters are filled with the same kind of offensive putrifying mud. But
PLEASANT-PLACE, 30, presents the ne plus ultra of street abomination. It is impossible to conceive how utterly filthy and abominable this street is; to be estimated it must be seen. The broken up road is filled in its hollows, and covered on its surface, so as to be nearly impassable (even this dry frosty day) with the putrescent muddy slime already referred to; and this is its state shortly after it has been cleansed, as it is absurdly termed, by the parish authorities. The street is nothing more or less than an elongated lake or canal; only, in place of water, we have a black, slimy, muddy compost of clay and putrescent animal and vegetable remains. Fever has visited this spot, and in one house has been very fatal.
KING-STREET, OLD FORD-LANE, 31.-This street is little, if at all, better than the preceding, and the same discreditable observations apply to it. It is quite evident that such a condition of things, as is above referred to, must be destructive of all personal cleanliness and comfort, subversive of moral energy, and dangerous to health.
OLD FORD-LANE, 32.-By the side of this lane there runs a black ditch.
BONNER'S-LANE, 33.-There is also by the side of this narrow lane, and fronting the houses, a black gutter, which may almost be termed a ditch. As there is no drainage whatever to this place, whenever a shower of rain falls, the contents of this gutter are washed over, and cover, the pathway. At the present time it smells very offensive. Fever is generally very prevalent here.
WHISKER'S GARDENS, 34.-This is a very extensive piece of ground, which is laid out, in neat plots, as gardens. The choicest flowers are frequently raised here, and great taste, and considerable refinement are evidently possessed by those who cultivate them. Now, among the cultivators are the poor-even the very poor-of Bethnal Green, for the few gentlemen who likewise have their gardens here are inconsiderable in number. I am confirmed, by the neatness and taste displayed in these gardens, in the justness of according to the poor a much higher sense of social comfort, and of the refinements of life, than is usually granted to them. The weary artisan and the toil-worn weaver here dedicate their spare hours, in the proper seasons, to what has always been considered a refined, as well as an innocent recreation, the cultivation of beautiful flowers. The love of the beautiful, and the sense of order which are readily accorded [-12-] to the artisan, or weaver, in his neat garden, surrounded by the choicest dahlias or tulips carefully cultivated, are denied to him when visited in his filthy, dirty street. When seen in his damp and dirty home, he is generally accused of personal uncleanliness, and a disregard of the commonest appearances of decency and regularity; yet, in his garden, he displays evidences of a refined taste and a natural love of beauty and of order. The two are irreconcileable, and as the one sentiment is natural and spontaneous, we are irresistibly led to regard the personal uncleanness of the poor, and the impurities which surround their houses, as the results of agencies foreign to the individual. Attached to all these little plots of ground are summer-houses. In the generality of cases, they are mere wooden sheds, cabins, or huts; but a few are more solid erections. It is very greatly to be regretted that the proprietors of these gardens should permit the slight and fragile sheds in them to be converted into abodes for human beings. It is impossible to view the change of these summer-houses into permanent dwellings but as the commencement of the lamentable state of things which at present exists in George-gardens, and Gale's-gardens, and, in its worst forms, in Green-gate and Weatherhead-gardens; places which are yet to be described. Of the hundreds of summer-houses in Whisker's-gardens, some sixteen or twenty only have as yet been converted into human habitations; but the following facts regarding them sufficiently point out the deplorable consequences of the change. The "houses" in these gardens are partly wooden, partly brick sheds, altogether unadapted to any other purpose than the most temporary protection from the inclemency of the weather. Sometimes they are divided into rooms; they are planted on the damp, undrained ground. The privies are sheds, erected over holes in the ground; the soil, itself, is removed from these holes, and is dug into the ground to promote its fertility; thus carrying out an apparently scientific design to poison by fever the inmates of the neighbouring dwellings. The supply of water is derived from wells sunk in the ground, thus manured; sometimes one well supplies one, sometimes two dwellings. Holes are likewise dug in the ground into which to throw the foul water. I have been thus particular in my description of these gardens, as the description will serve to explain the existence of such places as George-gardens down to the infamous Weatherhead-gardens, now become the abodes of the scum of society. Two cases of typhus occurred to the parochial medical officer in these gardens, one presenting a malignant character which died.
PARK-STREET, 35.-This street is covered with mud-heaps, garbage, and refuse, and is very dirty.
NORTH-PLACE, GREEN-STREET, 36.-This street is likewise covered with refuse, dung, and garbage. Pig-styes add to the filthiness of the place and the foulness of the effluvia. looping-cough and measles abound here.
BERNHAM-SQU,, 37.-This square consists of scattered buildings in gardens, and forms a remarkable exception to the foulness of the places last visited, in being tolerably clean.
[-13-] GROSVENOR-PLACE, GLOBE-STREET, 38.-In this street the black slimy filth has been cleansed out from the gutters, and carefully spread over the surface of the road, which is broken up, and in a most beastly condition, covered with decaying refuse and garbage. At the end of it is a pig-stye, and a stable.
PROVIDENCE-PLACE, BLUE ANCHOR-LANE, 39.-In front of this place is a space where every kind of refuse and filth is swept, and where the water stagnates and causes the more rapid decomposition of the garbage.
PRUSSIA OR BLUE ANCHOR-LANE, 40.-This lane is nearly in an impassable state for carts; it is quite broken up, and is most filthy. There is a cow-yard in it, with seven or eight dung-heaps. Twenty-two houses have been recently built, but the roadway before them is passable.
MARTHA-COURT, MARTHA-STREET, 41.-A wretched court leading out of Martha-street. There are thirteen houses in it, in a most dilapidated condition; they are two-roomed, and are very damp, as is shown by the walls. One tap with a cock serves to supply the whole thirteen houses; but there are three privies in an offensive state. There is one dust corner. 3s. and 2s. 6d. a week are the rents of these houses.
CHESTER-STREET, 42, also termed Behind Chester-place.-This short street is in a most lamentable state, from the want of efficient drainage, a state which is the more discreditable, as the main sewer passes along Chester-place for 156 feet. The gutter is flooded with filth and slimy mud; the gutter gradually widens out till the whole breadth of this street, eight yards, is covered with stagnant water and foetid mud; but not only does it cover the whole roadway, but it also extends some distance down a roadway at right angles to it (improperly termed Chester- place). The gutter is deepened at the extremity of the street, and into it a house drain pours its supply of fluid refuse. Between this gutter, and the stagnant pool all kinds of vegetable refuse are profusely scattered, and are gradually passing into decomposition-garbage, dung, potato-peelings, cabbage-leaves, shoes, and dust and dirt of all descriptions.
HELEN'S-PLACE, CHESTER-PLACE, 43.-In this place there is a large tin- yard, similar to that referred to in James-street. Fronting a narrow footpath is a filthy black ditch, 45 feet long. On the other side are three very small yards; these are connected with four houses. These houses, better termed sheds, consist of one room; they are barely seven feet high in the roof, and are eight feet deep by twelve feet in length. They are Completely undrained; the footpath is the wet clay. There is no supply of water, and the occupants "get it from their neighbours," or "where they can." There is one privy, which has a cesspool in common with a separate privy attached to another house. The cesspool is nearly full; the wood-work of the privy can scarcely hold together, and it is dangerous to use it. Not long ago the landlady of some houses in Armstrong- buildings fell into a cesspool and was suffocated. Such an event is extremely probable here from the dilapidated condition of the place. There is no dust- heap in this place; a sad mark of wretchedness, inasmuch as where there is no dust-heap to be found, it is to be concluded that it is the practice to spread [-14-] the refuse over the neighbouring soil. The vegetable matter, being mixed with the dust, forms a fresh layer of soil, well adapted for the growth of plants and the destruction of human beings. The occupants of these houses are likewise destitute of slop-holes, but throw their foul water into the ditch fronting their houses. It scarcely needs to be remarked that these houses are very damp. They are respectively occupied by two persons, by four persons (a man, two women, and a child), by six persons (a man, woman, and four children), and by one person. Is. a week is paid as rent for each of these most wretched abodes.
JAMES-PLACE, JAMES-STREET, 44.-Consists of two huts in a filthy yard, with dung and refuse heaped against the wall. The privy is perfectly filthy.
NORTH-PASSAGE, 45.-In this alley garbage and refuse heaps are piled against the wall, and the gutter in the centre is choked with black slime and mud.
HAMDEN'S-PLACE, a continuation of Braemar-street, 46.-The road is excessively dirty.
BRAEMAR-STREET, 47.-The road is broken up, and very dirty.
TABLE ILLUSTRATING SANITARY STATE OF DISTRICT, No. I.
The facts as to Drainage and Sewerage are derived from the parish surveyor, and a corrected map of the Tower Hamlets Commission of Sewers. The state of the Streets and Houses, and the Nuisances, from personal inspection. The deaths from Zymotic diseases, from the the returns to the Register General, and the cases of Zymotic diseases medically treated, from the books of the Parochial Medical officers. Both are for one year, ending October 1st, 1847.
DISTRICT, No. 2.
This district contains very few good houses, with the exception of those in Bethnal-green-road, and Pollard's-row. The great majority of the other houses are
the abodes of those a little above the poor, and the poor following every variety
of occupation. A very considerable proportion of the inhabitants are weavers;
a W is attached to the names of those streets chiefly occupied by weavers.
One of the peculiarities of this district is, that between Bethnal-green-road and
Three Colt-lane, more particularly, but likewise in other parts of the district,
there are great numbers of isolated houses, huts, or sheds placed on the ground,
with plots of ground in front of, and surrounding them. These were formerly,
that is to say, from forty years ago, downwards to the present day, summer-
houses surrounded with plots of ground, and used as places of floriculture and
recreation by the citizens of London. Hence these places are called gardens.
The tide of citizen emigration has for a long time however, been diverted from
Bethnal-green, and the wooden sheds and temporary huts erected on the bare
soil, for storing gardening utensils, and in which to spend the summer evenings,
have gradually been converted into human habitations. None, or almost none of
the houses which are now on the ground, were originally intended for the
dwellings of human beings, but for the purposes specified. The commencement
of this transition state is to be observed in Whisker's-gardens, District No. 1.
The entrance to these abodes is by narrow lanes, which are unpaved, and con-[-18-]sequently nearly always muddy, in wet weather more particularly
so, so that
ingress or egress is necessarily accompanied with personal uncleanness. These
dwellings, in some instances, are unfit to house cattle in; in other, but very few
instances (I think I could count the exceptions), they are tolerably clean. They
are totally without drainage of any kind, except into shallow cesspools, or holes
dug in the gardens; they are consequently extremely damp, and the inhabitants
suffer much from rheumatism, from febrile diseases, from diseases of the respiratory and digestive organs, from nervous affections, and
cachexia. There is very
seldom any water laid on to the houses; one stand-tap, as in Middle-walk, George-gardens, generally supplies five, ten, or sixteen houses. Many houses are altogether without water, and the inhabitants require to get it as they best can. In
Wilmot-grove the peculiarity of barrels sunk in the ground is to be remarked.
Some of the houses have wells, as in Camden-gardens. Very few of these houses
have regular cesspools; the privies are sometimes placed close beside the entrance
to the house, at other times at the extremity of the garden bordering the narrow
lane or footpath. They are, in the majority of cases, full, in some instances, overflowing, and frequently, like the houses themselves, in a dilapidated condition.
Another peculiarity in this district, is the number of alleys and narrow lanes,
many of them forming cul-de-sacs. The houses in these alleys are always of the
very worst description, and are in an excessively dirty state. There is seldom
any house drainage, or if there be, it is only to a gutter in front, where the
stagnates, till the sun's heat shall cause it to disappear by evaporation. It is
the nearly universal custom to throw the refuse water and garbage on the streets.
This district seems to be capable of very great amelioration; there is sufficient space to ensure free and complete ventilation; there are no piles of buildings to cause the air to stagnate, or to seduce a multitude of occupants into a contracted space. The soil is gravelly, and is not opposed to natural drainage. The evils which exist in it are evidently of man's formation, and are clearly traceable to negligence and indifference on the part of the owners of property to the wants and necessities of the poor; - huts and sheds metamorphosed into houses - two-roomed houses planted on the damp soil, without drainage or sewerage, - without a sufficient supply of water - with no decent accommodation for the demands of nature - with no receptacles for refuse, and no provision whatever for removing it - with general cleansing utterly neglected - and all sorts of nuisances tolerated, in spite of demonstration and reprobation. These are the phenomena which strike the reflecting observer.
The following are the details of my investigations into the condition of this district, and the result of my personal inspections ;-
GALE'S-GARDENS, 1.-Collections of heaped dung and vegetable refuse, oyster-shells, &c., encumber the narrow entrance to these gardens; near the Bethnal-green-road some swine are kept, and the place is very filthy; in one part there are 10 families supplied from one tap, to which on all occasions they must go.
HOLLY-BUSH-GARDENS, 2.-A lead-factory is situated here.
CAMDEN-GARDENS, 3.-The houses in these gardens are brick buildings, with some wooden sheds; they are placed on the damp ground, and have generally [-19-] two rooms on the ground floor; the gardens are similar to those in Whisker's- gardens, but have been partly converted into dust-yards. The houses vary in size from seven feet by nine, to a large dog-kennel; they are very rarely higher than seven feet. At the entrance to these gardens there is a cow-shed; there are also in the gardens pig-styes, the refuse from which is dug into the gardens, to promote the fecundity of the ground. There is no supply of water except by wells; the smell arising from various parts of this place is very offensive; the total want of drainage renders the paths dirty and muddy, the houses damp, and the in mates unhealthy. There is occasionally fever here, although not always prevalent; when it once gets into a house, it generally affects every member of the family.
THREE COLT-LANE, 4.-A sewer has at last been just laid down by the late Tower Hamlet's Commission as far as Hinton-street; the road is in the worst possible condition, being ploughed up, and very filthy. A row of new houses, called Alpha-row, has sprung up on the north side of the Railway; and on the south side of the Railway 22 new houses are nearly completed. It is between these two rows of houses that the filthy and notorious ditch in Lamb's-fields is situated. The Commissioners, in laying down a new sewer in Three Colt-lane, were chiefly actuated by the outcries which had been raised against them for permitting the continuance of a nuisance in Lamb's-fields, almost, if not quite, unparalleled, as an outrage against a social community. The following was the state of this nuisance when I visited it on several occasions, about three months ago:- "In place of about 300 square feet, as described by Dr. Southwood Smith nine years ago, being covered with putrid water, I found that all the space enclosed between a boarding on either side of the Eastern Counties Railway, and extending from part of Arch 91, and the half of Arch 92, up to the end of Arch 98, a distance of about 230 feet, and from 40 to 60 feet in width, was one enormous ditch or stagnant lake of thickened putrefying matter; in this Pandora's box dead cats and dogs were profusedly scattered, exhibiting every stage of disgusting decomposition. Leading into this lake was a foul streamlet, very slowly flowing, and from it another, which widened and expanded into a large ditch before it disappeared in the open end of a sewer. Bubbles of carburetted and sulphuretted hydrogen gas, and every pestilential exhalation resulting from putrefaction, were being most abundantly given off from the ditches and the lake. The ripples on the surface of water occasioned by a shower of rain are not more numerous than were those produced by the bursting of the bubbles of these pestilential gases which were about to produce disease and death. The construction of the Railway has diminished the extent of this lake, but it has concentrated the evil. Now the concentration of such foci of disease has been proved to be deleterious in a geometrically increasing ratio. What, therefore, must be the effect of this lake of putrescency on the health and lives of those who shall inhabit the houses that are rapidly springing up all around it. A row of 22 new houses of two flats, with cesspools in front, are being built parallel to, and within 10 feet of this most disgusting and degrading scene, which is an abomination dangerous [-20-] even to the casual inspector." -Lecture, pp. 23, 24. A deep ditch has been dug on either side of the Railway by the Company, into which a considerable part of the semi-fluid foetid pestilential matter has drained. These ditches were dug by the Company to prevent the foundations of the arches being endangered, and are in no ways to be considered as having been dug to promote the health of the neighbourhood. The double privies attached to the new houses on the south side are immediately contiguous to this ditch, and are constructed so that the night-soil shall drain into it. For this purpose the cesspools are small, and the bottoms are above the level of the ditch. It appears, therefore, that after the public have laid down a sewer, in order that this horrid lake of putrescency might be drained, it is intended that the ditches shall be retained, and that they shall be rendered, if possible, still more deadly and abominable, by the copious addition of night-soil. The solution of this apparently inexplicable problem is to be found in the immunity which attaches to the perpetration of such outrages, and the callous avarice and atrocious selfishness which prefer that the public shall suffer from such outrages till they choose, at their own expense, to deliver themselves from their destructive operation. The reputed owner of this property is not free from the suspicion that these nuisances are encouraged, in order to throw the burden of their suppression on the public. It is impossible to speak in terms sufficiently strong to convey an adequate impression of the disgust occasioned by this nuisance. That part of Three Colt-lane which is without a sewer is very dirty, and the gutters full of dirt and fluid filth. There is always a great deal of fever in this lane. Parallel to, and north of, Arch 81 of the Railway, and abutting on the lane, is a small pool of pasty putrescent filth, and a collection of garbage. On the south side of the same arch is an open filthy black ditch, which is from eight to ten feet wide, and from three to four hundred feet long. The uncovered privies at the back of North-street drain their soil into it; the soil has accumulated, and with decomposing cats and dogs, and refuse, which are now thrown into it, since Lamb's- fields have been occupied, produce an odour of the most abominable character. The place is most disgusting, but the smell is, if possible, worse. A similar ditch, but upon a smaller scale, extends in a northern line from Arch No. 68. Fever is generally extremely prevalent here.
LAMB'S-GARDENS, 5.-Now an open space. There are collections of dung and refuse scattered about.
PRIMROSE-PLACE, 6.-The corner house is occupied by a bladder-drier. An offensive odour is occasionally given off from these premises.
TENT-ST., 7, has a pretty large open space between it and the Railway, but in the centre of it there is a collection of stagnant water.
SMART'S-GARDENS, 8.-There are filthy collections of dung and dirt here.
SCOTT-ST., 9.-The backs of the houses on the south side have the privies under their windows. There is generally fever prevailing here.
PLEASANT-ROW, 10, and PLEASANT-PLACE, 11.-Pleasant-row forms the northern side; Pleasant-place the eastern and southern sides of a quadrangular [-21-] space, opposite the Jews' burying-ground. In the centre of this space is a smaller square, leaving a narrow passage to the east side of the square, and a still narrower passage to the southern; it is continuous with the western boundary. This central square is made up of swine-pens and yards in which dung-heaps are piled; in it are the privies of the northern half of the row, forming the south of the square. Immediately facing Pleasant-row is a ditch, filled with slimy mud and putrefying filth, which extends for 100 feet. The space between Pleasant-row and the central square is, beyond description, filthy; dung-heaps and putrefying garbage, refuse, and manure, fill up the horrid place, which is covered with slimy foetid mud. The eastern end has likewise its horrid filthy foetid gutter reeking with pestilential effluvia; the southern alley is likewise abominably filthy: there, the same slime and mud overspreads the broken up, bouldered path; and there, the same most disgusting odours are given off, which are common to this area of putrescence. I do not think that in all my journeyings through the degraded haunts of wretched poverty in this poor parish I have found a scene so distressing. The houses in Pleasant-place are chiefly two- roomed, and let at 3s. 6d. a week, but some of the two-roomed and all the three- roomed houses let at 5s. a week. I entered one of these houses on the southern side, and found that every individual in a family of seven had been attacked with fever, and that a daughter, aged 22, who had been convalescent eight weeks, on her return from the country to her miserable home, died of a relapse in two days. The body was retained in the house, because no means could be found to raise the money necessary to bury it, and was then lying in its coffin. The privy of this house is close to it, and is full and overflowing, covering the yard with its putrescent filth; the stench was perfectly unendurable; the house itself was most shockingly dirty. 3s. a week were paid for this den of pestilence, while the husband and wife together, by working night and day, could only earn 15s. a week. To permit a continuance of the state of things I saw would be, as it were, voluntarily to tolerate the elimination of a fatal poison to be sucked in at every breath of the occupants, who, thus condemned to death, perish not by the momentary pangs of official strangulation, but by the more miserable death of loathsome typhus. How lost to all sense of charity and brotherly love, how forgetful of the value of human life, are those who apathetically survey such sad scenes of wretched misery.
COLLINGWOOD-ST., 12.-This street is divided into two portions, the one containing 20, the other 22 houses; the latter are smaller than the former; the rents are 2s. 6d. and 3s. 6d. a week. In the first division, four of the houses have no supply of water; to obtain it the occupants must beg, or, as they commonly term it, borrow it of their neighbours, who subject themselves to a penalty of 5l. for suplying [-sic-] it. A stand-pipe supplies the first 10 houses: this stand-pipe is the cause of much quarrelling for turns; it is frequently left running, and annoys the person who resides next to it. Fever of a bad character generally prevails here.
The following Table, supplied to me by my friend Mr. Taylor, the medical officer of the district, shows the number of persons sleeping in one room, the di-[-22-]mensions, and the times when death would result from the respiration of the air defiled and rendered poisonous by breathing (provided there were no ventilation, a thing extremely common in the houses of the poor).
This Table is calculated on each respiration consuming 40 cubic inches (Menzies)
This Table is calculated on 20 respirations per minute (Hailer.)
.08 of carbonic acid gas in the atmosphere being destructive to life (Liebig).
In the calculation no allowance is made for the space occupied by the bed and other furniture, which would materially diminish the volume of air contained in the room. This will counterbalance the amount of air which might enter into, and escape from the room through imperfect ventilation.
SOUTHAMPTON STREET. 13--Has some stagnant water by the side of the railway.
BECKFORD-ROW, 14.-A narrow confined row of 16 houses with small plots in front. On the south side, they form the northern half of the houses in Alfred-row. The half houses which are in Beckford-row, consist of 2 rooms, one above the other, each room being generally occupied by a separate family. The place is abominably filthy; the drains from the houses into a kind of central gutter, are choked up. The privies are full, exposed, and overflowing, and the soil covers the front plots, in which heaps of filth are accumulated. 3s. 6d. and 3s. a week are paid for these miserable habitations. In 14 weeks, 13 cases of fever occurred, and one case of erysipelas. Eight cases of fever occurred in one house. Three persons slept in the lower room, five in the upper; two cases oc-[-23-]curred in the opposite house, and three a few doors further off. There is only one stand-tap to supply water to these houses. The reservoir to contain the supply which takes place for two hours three times a-week, is a small barrel 21 inches in diameter, and 12 deep.
THOMAS-ROW, 15.-A continuation of the above; is nearly in a similar state. There are two dung-heaps in it.
HAGUE-STREET, 16.-Between Mape-street and Hague-street there is a large and deep hollow, in the shape of an irregular triangle, with the sides measuring respectively about 130, 130, and 100 feet. In wet weather this is a sort of pond; into it are thrown at all times the contents of the fish baskets, the heads and intestines of fish, and every kind of animal and vegetable refuse. In the hot and dry weather in which I visited it, the surface had become exsiccated, and the nature of the filthy soil on which I trod was not readily perceived by the eye, but the sense of smell detected, in a concentrated form, the essence of putrefying odours, and the stomach heaved with nausea. At one end of this triangle, and on a level with its lowest surface, are rows of two houses, with open privies, and the soil oozing into a little ditch in the hollow.
HAGUE-PLACE, 17.-There is a collection of dung at the end of this place.
MANCHESTER-PASSAGE, 18.-A row of five houses leading from the south side of Derbyshire-street. Five feet in front of these one-storied, two-roomed houses, is dead wall-it is a blind alley. The alley is two feet above the level of the floor, and is unpaved. The back yards are about six feet, by the breadth of the house, and are from 20 to 30 inches above the level of the floors. In these yards are piled collections of dung, refuse, garbage, and filth. In No. 5, the soil from the privies had soaked into the refuse in the yard, and all the soakage from the yard to below the boarded floor. In No. 4, the boards of the floor were up in consequence of their having become rotten, (through the agency of the excremental soakage,) and were being re-laid by the poor occupant. No. 3 was equally filthy.
Nos. 2 and I were occupied by a family of mat makers; two donkeys participated with them the enjoyment of this wretched above. The back yards of these two houses were remarkable for their accumulation of filth, dung, &c., and had no privies; the excrements were lying about the surface of the yard. 2s. 6d. a-week were paid by the occupants of Nos. 1, 2, and 3; 3a. 3d. by those of Nos. 4 and 5, making a return of 10s. 9d. weekly. The weekly returns of the occupants of No. 5, were about 16s. ; of the widow in No, 3, 6s.; and of those of Nos. 2 and 1, 12s. a-week. There is no drainage whatever to these houses; neither is there any supply of water. The inhabitants must get it as they best can, at a distance of several streets. It is needless to observe that water could not be preserved in a state of purity, for even a very short time in such a horrid den.
WILMOT-GROVE, 19.-In these gardens the water is laid on in a somewhat peculiar manner. Small barrels are sunk in the ground, and these are filled from the Company's pipes thrice a-week, when the usual supply comes on.
[-24-] GEORGE-GARDENS, 20.-Gardens with similar two-roomed houses; the lane is generally muddy and dirty. The privies are close upon the windows.
GEORGE-ROW, 21.-These gardens are similar in all respects to the others only, that one barrel or reservoir supplies a number of separate houses and families,-five or more.
FALCON-COURT, HENLEY-PLACE, 22.-The first house has no water- supply, and there is a collection of refuse and dung in it.
ABBEY-PLACE, 23.-There is no water-supply to these houses, except from a common pump.
DERBYSHIRE-ST., WEST, 24.-Since the publication of my Lecture, and the appeals made to some of the Members of the Cleansing Board, part of this street has been drained, and the surface made somewhat level. The following is a statement of the condition in which it was. "Derbyshire-street runs parallel with Bethnal-green..road; the one side, that nearest the road, is higher than the opposite, For the length of about 260 feet there is a gutter and deep hollow, filled with stagnant and putrefying filthy fluid. When wet weather comes, this fluid, filth, is washed into the houses on the opposite side of the street, and inundates them, leaving when it subsides a compost of mud and filth. The continuation of Derbyshire-street to the east, called Alfred-row, has on its north side the privies bordering the foot-path. These are broken down, and the soil oozes from them, and finds a resting-place in the gutter by the side." Lecture pp. 24, 25.
This part of the street is, however, still very dirty ; collections of garbage and decomposing vegetables are abundantly strewed about, so that there is still a considerable accumulation of fluid muddy filth in the gutter ; but there appears much less danger of the opposite houses being inundated with the pestilential slime on the occurrence of rains.
DERBYSHIRE-STREET, EAST, OR ALFRED-ROW, however, has undergone no change ; the street is very filthy and dirty; the gutters still full of black putrid filth, which overflows the road ; the privies still drain into the gutters ; filth still abounds. Fever and erysipelas are common in this street. At the eastern end of the northern side of the street, called Alfred-row, which constitutes the back of the wretched hovels, called Beckford-row, there is an accumulation of dung, filth, and piles of refuse which drain into the soil and render the place moat abominably filthy. The odour from this neighbourhood was scarcely endurable. There is no water-supply to these houses, but the inhabitants require to provide themselves with it from a stand-tap adjoining, and under the same roof as the privies. I entered the two last houses in this row-the houses being composed of two rooms, one above the other, each occupied by different families. The size of the lower rooms of these houses is 10-feet 1-inch, by 11-feet, (allowing for a recess,) and 6-feet 9-inches in height. In the last house the atmosphere was scarcely to be breathed, even for a moment, with impunity. Four persons sleep in it. Two children had had small-pox, of whom one died; the other was at the height of the eruption. In the second last house, the air was equally foul- six persons sleep in the apartment, Four persons had had small-pox, of these [-25-] three had been vaccinated, but the vaccination had not taken in one, who died with confluent eruption. The fourth was a babe, then exhibiting the disease in an aggravated form.
PITT-ST., 25.-Has a slaughter-house at the top, and an extensive piggery near the centre of the street, The place is very damp, and quite undrained.
POTT-ST., 96 [-sic-] .-Collections of mud on either side of the street, preparatory to removal.
LUCAS-ST., 27.-Collections of mud, as above. At the west-end of the street is a marine-store dealer, from whose premises there frequently arises the most offensive smells; at the east end there is an extensive piggery.
COVENTRY-ST., 28.-Collections of mud as above.
BATH-ST., 29.-Similar collections of mud.
BATH-PLACE, 30.-This court is supplied with water from two barrells below a stand-pipe.
PARLIAMENT-PLACE, 31.-There are four miserable houses in this court. The rooms are 7-ft. high, 10˝-feet long, by 10-feet 2-inches deep; and they are supplied with water from a cock in the wall. There is one privy in a dilapidated filthy state in the court, open to all passers-bye; the soil oozes into the surface-drain which is stopped, rendering the place very dirty.
PARLIAMENT-COURT, 32.-In two of these 2-roomed houses, the rooms of which are 7-feet 8-inches high, by 10-feet 6-inches in height, and 9-feet 7-inches in breadth, nine persons sleep. According to Mr. Taylor's calculation, these persons would perish from the respiration of the poisonous air produced by their own breathing, in seven hours. The pressure of the water is so insufficient, that the two last houses in this court are very badly supplied.
PARLIAMENT-ST,, 33.-There are mud collections as already referred to. The gutters in some places are full of very filthy foetid matter.
ABINGDON-COURT, 34.-A cock in the wall supplies these four houses with water, for which £2 per annum are paid by the landlord. The houses are two roomed; 2s. and 2s. 6d. a week are paid for them. In one a man and his wife by their labour earn 12s. 6d, a-week, and support themselves and two children, after paying their rent. The last house, in this court has the wall infiltrated, and the ground below the floor wet, with the fluid which has drained from a neighbouring cesspool; the inmate is ill, and the landlord grievously complains of the injury done to his property.
JUBILEE-PLACE, 35.-A court entering from Parliament-street by a narrow passage. There are 8 houses in this court, each 2-roomed. There is one stand- tap, from which, when the supply comes on, the inhabitants have each to fill their small barrels. There are two privies, nearly full, common to the court; there is no back-yard; there is no dust-bin, and, Consequently, there is nearly always a considerable accumulation of refuse, garbage, &c. piled against the well; this is seldom removed. The houses Nos. 3 and 4 have a drain under the floor, the effluvia from which cause them to smell very offensively. The paint by the action of the sulphuretted hydrogen gas emitted, is turned black. The [-26-] court is never cleansed, because it is private property. There is no house-drain~ age; there is a small surface-drain in the court, which is stopped up. The place is very dirty. 2s. 6d. a-week are paid for these houses, the rooms of which are 10-feet 5-inches long, 9-feet 10-inches broad, and 6-feet 9-inches high. One family of six persons living in one house earned 7s. 6d. a-week; another family of six persons, all sleeping in one room, earned 15s. a-week; whilst a third family of seven persons could only earn at present 3s. a-week.
Mr. Taylor has favoured me with the following Table, similar to that under the head of Little Collingwood-street.
COLLINGWOOD-TERRACE, 36.-A very disagreeable and offensive odour is given off from this street. The house at which I casually inquired had an inmate just dead of fever.
ELIZABETH-PLACE, 37.-This filthy wretched place has 14 houses in it. Stagnant foetid filth perpetually covers the bouldered footway. Excrements and garbage quite disgusting fill up one entrance, while at the extremity dung-heaps and foetid refuse are boarded up. 3s. a week are paid for these pestilential abodes. The inhabitants in one house earned 15s., in another 10s., in another 7s. or 8s., and in another 4s. or 5s. weekly. Six of these beastly dens were empty, most fortunately. As the entrances to this place are extremely narrow, and the place itself extremely contracted, ventilation is in the worst possible state. But that seems only in keeping with the whole character of the locality, and its squalid, wretched inhabitants. This place is quite unfit for human existence.
CHARLES-ST., 38.-At the boundary of the parish in this street, and partly within it, and partly in the parish of Whitechapel, is an extensive dairy or cow- shed, in a most offensive state. The soil was collected in a large wooden tank, and [-27-] the surface of the whole place covered with decomposing refuse. The smell from the place was most offensive and disgusting. It was impossible to walk along this, or the neighbouring streets (the wind blowing from the S.W.) without nausea arising from the sickening and offensive odours wafted from the neighbouring collection of night-soil, and patent manure manufactory. Though they are out of the parish, still, as the health of the inhabitants is affected by them, I introduce the following description of them. "On the western side of Spitalfields workhouse, and entered from a street, called Queen-street, is a nightman's yard. A heap of dung and refuse of every description, about the size of a pretty large house, lies piled to the left of the yard; to the right, is an artificial pond, into which the contents of cesspools are thrown. The contents are allowed to desiccate in the open air; and they are frequently stirred for that purpose. The odour which was given off when the contents were raked up, to give me an assurance that there was nothing so very bad in the alleged nuisance, drove sue from the place with the utmost speed I was master of. On two sides of this horrid collection of excremental matter, was a patent manure manufactory. To the right in this yard, was a large accumulation of dung, &c.; but, to the left, there was an extensive layer of a compost of blood, ashes, and nitric acid, which gave out the most horrid, offensive, and disgusting concentration of putrescent odours it has ever been my lot to be the victim of. The whole place presented a most foul and filthy aspect, and an example of the enormous outrages which are perpetrated in London against society. It is a curious fact, that the parties who had charge of these two premises were each dead to the foulness of their own most pestilential nuisances. The nightman's servant accused the premises of the manure manufacturer as the source of perpetual foul smells, but thought his yard free from any particular cause of complaint; while the servant of the patent manure manufacturer diligently and earnestly asserted the perfect freedom of his master's yard from foul exhalations; but considered that the raking up of the drying night-soil, on the other side of the wall, was "quite awful, and enough to kill anybody." Immediately adjoining the patent manure manufactory is the establishment of a bottle-merchant. He complained to me in the strongest terms of the expenses and annoyances lie had been put to through the emanations which floated in the atmosphere having caused his bottles to spoil the wine which was bottled in bottles that had not been very recently washed. He was compelled frequently to change his straw, and frequently to wash his bottles, and considered that, unless the nuisance could be suppressed, he would be compelled to leave his present premises. Since the publication of my lecture, the atrocious nuisance of the Patent Manure Manufacturer has been suppressed; although the soil then on the ground was valued at £2000. But as similar nuisances, at the present time exist in some parts of Bethnal Green parish, and are not likely to be removed either voluntarily or compulsarily, the evidence of the parochial medical officer, given to the policc magistrate, will be eminently serviceable in explaining the deadly influences of such foci of disease. "In Spitalfields workhouse, scarcely 100 yards distant from the nuisance, febrile and other affection considerably [-28-] prevailed, these were greatly induced by the contiguity of the manufactory, as whenever the wind blew from the premises, it carried an odour in the highest degree offensive, and calculated to produce the most pernicious consequences. On such occasions whatever diseases happened to prevail in the workhouse exhibited a great tendency to putrescence, and assumed a most malignant and untractable character. Four hundred children were contained in the house, who were more susceptible than adults to the effects of an impure state of the atmosphere, and amongst these there had lately broke out no less than 12 cases of spontaneous gangrene, a disease which but very rarely existed unless the atmosphere was very impure, and the whole of these cases had terminated fatally. Whenever the effluvium became powerful, the adult portion of the inmates were invariably attacked with diarrhoea of the worst form." On referring to Digby-street, p. 9, the importance and practical bearing of these remarks will be fully apparent.
PUNDERSON'S-GARDENS, 39.-Dr. Southwood Smith gives us the following description of Punderson's-gardens in 1838 ;- "Punderson's-gardens is a long narrow street, in the centre of which is an open rush-gutter, in which filth of every kind is allowed to accumulate and putrefy. A mud-bank, on each side, commonly keeps the contents of this gutter in their situation; but sometimes, and especially in wet weather, the gutter overflows; its contents are then poured into the neighbouring houses, and the street is rendered nearly impassable. The privies are close upon the footpath of the street, being separated from it only by a paling of wood: the street is wholly without drainage of any kind. Fever constantly breaks out in it, and extends from house to house. It has lately been very prevalent here, and we have had several fatal cases from it in the London Fever Hospital. On several occasions lately I have visited this locality, as well in wet, as in dry weather. The only change which has been made in it, during the last twenty-three years, is declared by an old inhabitant to have been for the worse. In place of the gutter in the centre of the roadway, there is now a road, and a gutter on either side. These gutters are always full, even after long-continued dry weather, because the inhabitants have no where else to throw their refuse water. In wet weather the road is nearly impassable; the soil from the privies soaks into the gutters, and the whole refuse from a large pig-stye is every morning swept into it. As if to concentrate the evil still further, there are large cow-sheds and pig-styes close by, from which very nauseous odours were given off. It is right, however, that I should state, that Punderson's Garden is by no means worthy of the bad eminence which has been thrust upon it; I hay seen in nearly every part of the parish of Bethnal Green places in a much worse condition than Punderson's Garden.
BETHNAL-GREEN-ROAD, 40.-Except in three small patches, not altogether amounting to more than a few yards, this street, forming the main road in the parish for 1,700 yards, is altogether without a sewer. The Commissioners could not plead ignorance of that fact, because for many years they had been repeatedly memorialized, and the following circumstance brought under their notice, namely [-29-] that the cellars of the houses do not extend to the depth of 3 feet 6 inches below the depth of the carriage-way, and that there is an average depth of 18 inches of water in them during the greater part of the winter season, compelling many persons to use the pump for many hours daily to preserve their property. (George Reynolds, Registrar.) In many of the gardens or back-yards attached to the houses, especially those towards the eastern end of the road, water is come upon in digging to a depth of only 18 inches. This road is likewise drained very badly, it is consequently nearly always excessively dirty, even although it is the main road, and the most frequently cleansed of any in the parish. A great part of it has lately had an excellent granite roadway laid down, which is in very good condition. It will, of course, be necessary to take up this roadway when a sewer shall be made (and it is incredible that the inhabitants can much longer tolerate the present condition of things, produced by the want of a sewer) The roadway thus taken up well not be as well laid down again; the road will be spoiled, and the expense of taking it up and putting it down again must be incurred. The gutters of this road are always full, and garbage of all descriptions are constantly being thrown on it. Unless for the frequent cleansing it would soon become as filthy as any of the filthiest streets in the parish ; as it is, a great part of it is constantly very dirty. In this road there are numerous slaughter-houses, and various nuisances, among these may be mentioned a marine-store-dealer, whose yard presents a most horrid accumulation of all kinds of dirty matters.
GROVE-ST., CAMDEN-GARDENS, 41.-This place is covered, with garbage from the putrefaction of which the most offensive odours arise, sensibly affecting every passer-by. This street is in a most disgraceful condition.
NEW YORK-ST, 42.-The back-yards of the houses in this street are small, damp, and filthy. Holes are dug in the ground into which to throw the refuse, slops, and foul water.
CAMBRIDGE-ST., 43.-A blind alley, with a dead wall in front. There is no proper footpath, and the place is very damp. There is however, a tap and a privy to each house, and the usual accumulation of dirt, dust, and garbage. In the first house I find all the small tubs filled with water, and exposed in the yard to the emanations from the refuse heaps and privies. The houses have three rooms and a small wash-house. The rent is 5s. 6d. a week.
WOLVERLEY-ST., 44-At the end of this street, and abutting on a brick-field, the road is in a muddy state, and resembles a stagnant poo1 covered with green slime.
NORTH CONDUIT-ST., 45.-This street is in a dirty condition; at the northern end a surface-drain leads into the neighbouring brick-field.
SEABRIGHT-ST., 46.-On this street are several heaps of rubbish and refuse. In it there is a cow-yard, but only on a small scale; there is, nevertheless, the usual collections of offensive animal remains and decomposing vegetable matter. This street is filled with weavers.
[-30-] CROSSLAND or GROSVENOR-PL., SALE-ST., T7.-A row of 12 houses, with a footpath in front three feet below the level of the road; they are, consequently very damp and confined.
CROSSLAND or GROSVENOR-SQUARE, 48.-Ten houses in a kind of court planted on the damp undrained soil, presenting a rheumatic aspect.
ST. ANDREW'S-ST., 49.-An open space at the end of this street is ,as yet, unbuilt upon, and is used as a convenient place on which to deposit dust, dirt, refuse, and garbage of all sorts.
FOSTER-ST., 50.-This street contains 24 houses; the size of the rooms in which the occupants sleep is 6 feet 10 inches high, and 9 feet 2 inches deep. In five of these houses four persons sleep in one room, in six houses five persons in one room, in one house nine persons in one room, and in one house ten persons in one room. By Mr. Taylor's calculations, these persons must perish from the foul air of their own begetting, in the respective periods of 13h. 2m., 10h. 28m,, 5h. 48m., and 5h. l3m.
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