Victorian London - Publications - Social Investigation/Journalism - Life in West London : A Study and a Contrast, by Arthur Sherwell, 1897 - Part 1 - Social

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[-1-]

LIFE IN WEST LONDON
A STUDY AND A CONTRAST

PART I - SOCIAL

CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTORY

IT is probable that there is no district in London so comparatively unknown as that portion of West London which is comprised within the area of Soho, and the immediately surrounding district. Mr. Charles Booth, whose investigations in East and South London have been so thorough and exact, has, it is true, published some exceedingly important, and, indeed, invaluable information bearing on the social and industrial conditions of life in Central London, but his investigations, for the most part, are restricted to certain broadly-defined districts, and are therefore incomplete; while the scope of his enquiry prevented him from giving, at any time, more than a casual and indirect clue to the moral and religious conditions of the districts which he investigated. So far as the more intimate facts of its moral and social life arc concerned, Soho remains to a very large extent a terra incognita to the outsider.
    The district, to begin with, has the more or less pathetic interest that attaches to a declining residential [-2-] quarter. It seems a far cry from the West London of the early eighteenth century to the West London of to-day. One smiles to remember that in the reign of Queen Anne the most fashionable quarters were Bloomsbury Square, Lincoln's Inn Fields, Soho Square, and Queen's Square, Westminster, and that in the reign of George II, they included Leicester Fields, Golden Square, and Charing Cross; while it is even more difficult to believe that where Curzon Street now stands the May Fair was annually held as late as 1756. 
    There is nothing in the entire life of a city at once so pathetic and remorseless as the law and habits of its growth. A city is like a great, hungry sea, which flows on and on, filling up every creek, and then overspreads its borders, flooding the plains beyond; only, unlike the sea, a city leaves its driftwood behind it.
    The prosperous classes, driven from Soho, press over into St. George's, Hanover Square. Forty or fifty years ago St. George's begins noticeably to decline, and Kensington springs up with a mad rush of growth. But in the seventies decline is noticeable even here. The district continues to grow, but at a greatly reduced rate, until between 1881-1891 things are practically stationary, the increase being only 1.9 per cent.; while in the same interval Paddington increases 10.1 per cent., and Fulham 64.5 per cent.* [-** St. Pancras offers us a similar illustration. Between 1861-71 its population increased 11.4 per cent., and between 1871-1881 6.7%, while between 1881-91 it decreased 0.8 %. In the corresponding periods Hampstead increased 69.0 %, 40.8 % and 50.5 % It would be interesting to discover how far the wealth of Hampstead feels a responsible concern for the poverty of St. Pancras?-]  It requires no great stretch of imagination to forecast a time when the wealthy mansions of Kensington shall give place [-3-] to warehouses and shops, or be let out in one and two-room tenements. The same law of change and expansion is noticeable, of course, in other districts, only it has not elsewhere the same aspect of remorseless realism, nor is it so sweeping and revolutionary. It is only in very wealthy districts that the realism and pathos of the change become conspicuously apparent.
    The rapidity of the change is remarkable. It is a noteworthy fact that, with the single exception of the City, the area of Soho has declined more rapidly in recent years than any other district in London, the decrease in population between 1881 and 1891 being no less than twenty per cent. The following table, which includes every district in London showing a decrease in population between 1881 and 1891, will serve to emphasize the remarkable way in which the central districts of the West are declining:

Table of Districts showing a Decrease in Population between 1881 and 1891.

Registration District Total Decrease 1881-1891 Percentage of Decrease to Population.
City 13,085 persons 25.5
Soho * 9,237 19.8
Strand 6,066 18.1
St. Giles 5,495 12.1
St. George's, Hanover Square ** 15,610 10.4
St. Marylebone 12,506 8.1
Holborn *** 9,949 6.6
St. George's-in-the-East  1,362 2.9
Shoreditch 2,582 2.0
Stepney 1,167 2.0
St. Pancras 1,984 0.8

* St. James and St. Anne
** Including the parishes of St. John Westm. and St. Margaret Westm.
*** Including Clerkenwell.

[-4-] But the decline of population in the central districts of the West, if most marked in the last decennium, is far from being a recent fact. It has been a steadily growing fact, as the following table will show, for a considerable number of years:

Table showing Decrease in Population of Central London between 1861 and 1891.

Decrease Percentage
Registration District 1861-71 1871-81 1881-91
City 33.0 32.3 25.5
Soho  3.0 9.1 19.8
Strand 14.3 18.8 18.1
St. Giles-in-the-Fields 1.0 15.6 12.1
St. George's, Hanover Square  0.0 4.2 10.4
St. Marylebone 1.5 2.7 8.1
Holborn  2.5 7.1 6.6
St. George's-in-the-East  1.7 1.9 2.9
Shoreditch 1.7 0.5 2.0
Stepney* +2.0 +1.5 2.0
St. Pancras* +11.4 +6.7 0.8

* In these districts there was a decrease in the last decennium only.

    It will thus be seen that there has been a continuous and rapid decline of population in Soho since 1861.
    The causes that contribute to a decline of population in a district are twofold. First, changes in the development or distribution of an industry, and secondly, the displacement of residential dwellings by warehouses and shops, accompanied always by a migration of the wealthier classes to more fashionable districts.
    Both of these causes have been at work in Soho. The [-5-] introduction of machine-work has almost revolutionized the tailoring trade and led to much of the work being done outside the district, while the displacement of dwelling- houses by warehouses and shops has been enormous. In the two civil parishes of Soho (St. Anne and St. James) there were no less than 582 fewer houses in 1891 than in 1881, while there was an increase of 209 in the number of uninhabited houses. That is to say, 582 houses had totally disappeared between 1881 and 1891, while the number of uninhabited houses had increased by over two hundred. The surrounding districts suffered similarly. In St. Giles-in-the-Fields, for example, there were 186 fewer houses in 1891 than in 1881 and an increase of 76 in the number of uninhabited houses. In the Tottenham Court Road division of St. Pancras again, there were 126 fewer houses than in 1881, but a decrease of 18 in the number of uninhabited houses; while in Marylebone 302 houses had disappeared between 1881 and 1891, and the number of uninhabited houses had increased by 377. Taking the whole of the districts included in Central London we find that no fewer than 2,432 houses disappeared between 1881 and 1891, while the number of uninhabited houses increased by 1,211. In some cases the decrease in the number of houses was accompanied by an increase of population. For example, one Ward of St. Pancras (No. 3) which had 4,320 inhabited houses in 1881, and a population of 34,008 persons, had only 4,091 inhabited houses in 1891 for a population of 34,030 persons. That is to say, 229 fewer houses to accommodate a slightly increased population. A similar condition of things is observable in the Dorset Square Ward of St. Marylebone, where in 1891 there were 49 fewer houses to accommodate [-6-] a population increased by 388 persons. These cases, perhaps, should be regarded as exceptional, and it may be they are to be explained, in part at least, by circumstances which do not appear in the figures themselves; but, nevertheless, it is certain that the displacement of dwelling-houses by business premises very considerably aggravates the problem of overcrowding in industrial districts. The increased value of land as sites for business premises, and the consequent constant decrease in the number of dwelling-houses, leads to a corresponding increase in rents. The more prosperous classes migrate to other districts, while the poor, who must be near their work, remain, and become more and more crowded. It is this process that has sent up rents in London 150 per cent., in fifty years, and made Soho, as I shall presently show, one of the most densely crowded districts in London.

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CHAPTER II

POVERTY: FACTS AND CONTRASTS

THE district as a whole is characterized by conditions which, if they do not defy, at least baffle accurate description. Here, for example, are all the ordinary facts of social life in crowded centres - insanitary dwellings, irregular employment, sweated wages, and chronic physical weakness, intensified by higher rents and a relatively higher cost of living; and, what is worse still, aggravated by the close proximity of those awful contrasts-the extremes of wealth and poverty, which are the special and peculiar miseries of the West End. In the east and south of London life has its deep and extended miseries, but this is not one of them. There the colour of life, if deadly dull, is more even; it knows nothing of those violent extremes of luxury and want which fix irrevocably and hopelessly before the worker's eyes the gulf which divides the classes. Here are gifts and treasures innumerable-art, knowledge, beauty, wealth-but they are not for the poor. The poor of West London are made to feel that they are aliens from life on the very borders of their own homesteads.
    How great is the misery of this contrast, and how seriously the whole social problem in West London is [-8-] accentuated by other unequal conditions few, perhaps, yet realize.
    In the district of Soho, for example, taking an area with a population of 32,148, the percentage of poverty has been estimated * [-*Mr. Charles Booth-] at 42.4. The density of population gives considerably over 200 persons to an acre, and the whole district (if we exclude the narrow enclosure of Soho Square, which is not open to the poor, and the still smaller area surrounding St Anne's Church) is entirely lacking in open spaces. In certain parts of the district the percentage of poverty and the density of population are, of course, much higher. One area, which includes a population of 6,763 persons, has a poverty percentage of 46.5; while another, which has a population of 9,349, actually shows a percentage of 51.6.
    Now the true force of the contrast will be seen when I mention that in the neighbouring district of Mayfair, which immediately adjoins Soho, the percentage of poverty is only 2.7, while in one area, representing a population of 4,243 persons, the percentage is only 0.5. In Belgravia, again, the percentage is 5.0; and in Kensington (which although probably the richest district in Europe has nevertheless 8 per cent. of its population living in one-room tenements) 5.9. In another adjoining (listrict (a little to the north of Soho), which in its social and industrial conditions is perhaps even more invertebrate than Soho, much the same state of things exists, although here statistical information is less certain. The district forms part of two great parishes, St. Pancras, with a population of 234,379 persons and a poverty percentage of 30.4; and St. Marylebone, with a population of 142,404 persons and a poverty percentage of 27.4. These figures, however, give no adequate [-9-] idea of the poverty in the district referred to, for they are necessarily considerably modified by the large areas of wealth represented by the squares and other wealthy residences which abound in both parishes, and the figures for which are included in the general percentages. In many of the streets immediately surrounding Fitzroy Square, for which no separate returns are at present obtainable, the poverty is certainly as great as in Soho only it is confined to smaller areas. In this district one frequently passes abruptly and instantly from a poverty percentage of 3.0 to one of 40.0 or 50.0 or even more. Immediately beyond this district is that of Lisson Grove where there are 50,000 people, half of whom am poor.
    Even under normal conditions the pressure of poverty represented by these figures is extreme, but when, as in the early months of 1895, the winter is of exceptional severity, the pressure becomes intolerable. What the poor in the district to which I have just referred suffered at that time probably no man living knows. A special census which I carried out in certain parts of the district revealed some startling facts. Many of the families-one of my helpers says most-lived for weeks on soup and bread procured from the various charitable soup-kitchens in the neighbourhood. Every available article of furniture or clothing was sold or pawned; in some eases the boots were taken off the children's feet and pawned for bread or fuel. A number of families, even in the bitterest times of the long frost, lived for days without fire and light, and often with no food but a chance morsel of bread or tea. One family we found had lived for weeks on bread and tea and dripping. In another room a family was found, consisting of the mother and six children (the father had been [-10-] in the infirmary for eleven weeks), who had lived on a pennyworth of bread, a pennyworth of tea, a halfpenny-worth of sugar, and a halfpennyworth of something else - I think milk - every other day, and this they had procured on credit. In a room in another house a woman and several children were found. The woman was "keeping guard," afraid to go out lest the landlord, who was watching, should take possession. The only furniture in the room was an egg-box, a chair with no back, a kettle, and a saucepan in which the woman was cooking some cods' heads for their dinner. In a filthy room in another street one of my helpers found several children, very dirty and entirely naked (this in the severest days of the long frost!). Their mother had been out since morning looking for work. Several cases were found where the family had been without food (sometimes without fire also) for three days.
    The lack of employment was terrible. In one street, out of one hundred families visited, we found no fewer than one hundred and fifteen adults (the majority of them men) out of employment. Eighty of these had been out for at least a month and upwards. Here are the exact figures:

16 had been out 1 month and upwards
17 "      "        "    2 months "    "
18 "      "        "    3 months "    "
12 "      "        "    4 months "    "
 4 "      "        "    5 months "    "
10 "      "        "    6 months "    "
1  "      "        "    7 months "    "
1  "      "        "    8 months "    "
1  "      "        "    9 months "    "

In another short street, out of s ixteen homes visited (representing thirteen families and three single persons), [-11-] there were fourteen adults out of employment, all, or nearly all of them, being beads of families.

5 had been out 1 month
2 "       "         "   2  months
2 "       "         "   3  months
2 "       "         "   4  months
1 "       "         "   8  months
1 "       "         "   9  months

In one block of dwellings in another street, out of twenty-three homes visited, twenty-six adults were returned as out of employment. Here again, in nearly every case, it was the head of the family who was out.

3 had been out 1 month
4 "       "        "    2 months
6 "       "        "    3 months
2 "       "        "    5 months
1 "       "        "    12 months
1 "       "        "    15 months

And so I might go on. Out of the first 170 cases reported to me as unemployed, only 25 were returned as single men and women, and of these several had relatives dependent upon them. The rest were heads of families. * [-*It must be remembered that in these districts the wife is almost as invariably a wage-earner as the husband, and hence it is often difficult to distinguish between women who are, strictly speaking, heads of families, and those who are not.-]  In addition to the wholly unemployed, we found at least twice as many who were working only two or three days a week.
    In considering these facts, it must of course be remembered that they refer to a season of exceptional distress; but allowance being made for this, they give a valuable and [-12-] reliable clue to the chronic distress of a singularly invertebrate district.
    But these poverty statistics require to be supplemented by other facts before the full force of the contrasts which life in West London offers can be appreciated.
    For example, while according to the last census returns there are in the registration division of West London (excluding St. Marylebone, St. Pancras, and Bloomsbury) no fewer than 26,222 persons living on their own means (and these form but a small proportion of the wealthy unoccupied classes), there are in the various work-house institutions of the same area between seven and eight thousand paupers. * [-* In 1891 the number was 7,483.-] Moreover, between four and five thousand persons* [-*In 1894 the number was 4,139.-]  die every year in the work-houses, hospitals, and public asylums of the district; while if we include St. Giles-in-the-Fields, Marylebone, and the Tottenham Court Road sub-division of St. Pancras, which, although assigned for registration purposes to other divisions, really belong to West, and West Central London, at least another thousand persons must be added.

[-13-]

CHAPTER III

OVERCROWDING

BUT no statement of the contrasts which West London offers is possible which leaves out of view the sanitary conditions under which the people live, and the awful problem of overcrowding. The tremendous seriousness of this problem of overcrowding has never been intelligently grasped, nor is its mere extent sufficiently realized. In the registration division of West London, for example, no fewer than 61,056 persons live in one-room tenements, while if we add St. Giles-in-the-Fields, St. Marylebone, and St. Pancras, the number of persons living in one-room tenements reaches the enormous total of 128,120. But even these figures, as I shall show, by no means represent the full extent of the overcrowding, inasmuch as a large proportion of those living in two and three-room tenements live under crowded conditions.
    There are several ways in which the measure of overcrowding in a particular district may be determined. It may be estimated, both absolutely and comparatively (1) by the number of persons to a house; (2) by the number of families to a house; (3) by the number of houses to an acre; (4) by the number of persons to an acre; (5) by the [-14-] number of one-room tenements; and (6) by the number· of persons per room.
   
In the application of the first three of these methods the size of the house is an important consideration, and must be carefully kept in mind when instituting a comparison between different districts. Strict comparison, of course, is only possible between districts in which the houses are of uniform size. But allowance being made for this, the comparison even between districts where the houses differ greatly in size becomes of great interest; while I shall try to show that in some respects at least it is of great sanitary importance.
    I propose to apply each of these methods to the district of Soho, basing my investigations upon the returns of the last census, and then to compare the results in each case with the results of similar methods applied to other districts. I select:
    I. The Number of Persons to a House. In this case it is obvious that the comparison, if it is to be of any value, must be made only between districts where, as I have already said, there is no great disparity in the size of the houses. It would be useless, for example, to attempt a comparison between the number of persons inhabiting a house in Soho, where the houses for the most part are large, and the number of persons inhabiting a house in St. George's-in-the-East, or Bermondsey, where the houses are much smaller. Such a comparison, if made, could only be useful as an indirect clue to the difference in the size of the houses in the two industrial districts. But this objection does not apply to a comparison between the civil parishes of Soho, and the civil parishes of St. George's, Hanover Square, and Kensington. In this case [-15-] the difference in the size of the houses would tell against Soho, which nevertheless, despite this, has a far higher average population per house than any of the wealthy neighbouring parishes. The appended table will show this

Civil Parish Population Number of Inhabited Houses Average number of persons to a house
St. Anne, Soho 12,317 938 13.123
St. James, Westminster* [-*Including St. Luke's, Berwick Street, Soho, where the average is 13 2/3 persons to a house.-] 24,995 2,592 9.166
St. George's, Hanover Square 78,364 11,204 7.0
Kensington 166,308 22,084 7.117
Average for all London 7 2/3

    In considering the above figures it should be remembered that while the houses in Soho are large, the mansions in St. George's, Hanover Square, and Kensington are even larger, many of them being considerably larger, and when allowance is made for this, the extent of the overcrowding in Soho is powerfully suggested.
    But the force of the contrast will be seen even more clearly if instead of civil parishes we compare the smaller areas comprised within ecclesiastical parishes. For this purpose I select four adjacent ecclesiastical parishes in Soho, and four adjacent ecclesiastical parishes in St. George's, Hanover Square.

Ecclesiastical Parish Population Number of Inhabited Houses Average number of persons to a house
Soho
St. Anne 8075 718 11¼
St. Mary 4242 220 19¼
St. John the Baptist 5234 430 12 1/6
St. Luke's Berwick Street 5370 392 13 2/3
St. George's, Hanover Square
[-16-] Christ Church, Mayfair 5057 715 7
Hanover Church, Regent Street 2746 421
St. Mark, North Audley St. 2937 554 5 2/3
St. Michael, Chester Square 4161 729

It will thus be seen that Soho, despite the fact that its houses are considerably smaller than many of the houses in St. George's, Hanover Square and Kensington, has on the average virtually twice as many persons per house; while in certain limited and closely adjacent areas the proportion is even greater.

    II. If we consider (2) The Number of Families, or Separate Occupiers per House, a similar inequality presents itself.
    In certain important respects, moral as well as physical, the number of families per house is of even greater importance than the number of persons per house. It is clear for example, that in respect of sanitary conveniences alone, the difference between a small house inhabited by at most one or two families (as is generally the case in East and South London), and a larger house inhabited by five, six, and even more families (as is so common in Soho and the surrounding districts) is from a sanitary, as well as moral point of view enormous. In Soho and the immediately surrounding districts, the houses are for the most part large, but having been built originally for occupation by one family, they are furnished with altogether inadequate sanitary conveniences for their present occupants, and this should be borne in mind in the [-17-] comparisons which I am about to make. The full seriousness of this defect will be made plain in some particulars that I shall presently give.
    In the Appendix to this volume, to which the reader is specially referred, * [-*see Appendix 1-] I have given carefully prepared tables showing the number of families, or separate occupiers, per house, (1)  as between Soho and the rest of London,  (2) as between Soho and the wealthy districts of the West, and (3) as between Soho and the most crowded districts in other parts of London. From these it will be seen that the average number of families per house is 3 1/5 in the Civil Parish of St. Anne, Soho, as against 1 3/5 in St. George's, Hanover Square;   1 3/5 in Kensington; and 1 6/7 in Paddington.
    The force of the contrast represented by these figures becomes even more marked when allowance is made for the number of poor families who are to be found living in mews and other "slum" localities even in the wealthiest districts' of the West; and further, for the number of families living in fashionable "flats." * [- In St. George's, Hanover Square, 7 per cent. of the population live in one-room tenements; in Kensington 8 per cent.; and in Paddington 8 per cent.-]
    If again, we compare the industrial districts of the West with the most crowded districts in other parts of London, the following result appears:

[-18-]

Civil Parish. Average Number of Families or Separate Occupiers per House.
St. Anne, Soho 3 1/3
St. James, Westminster * [-*including St. Luke's, Berwick St., Soho-] 2 1/3
Spitalfields 2 1/3
St. Saviour's, Southwark 2 1/5
Whitechapel 1 9/10
St. George's-in-the-East 1 9/10
Bethnal Green 1 2/3
Bermondsey 1 2/3

III. In dealing, as I next propose to do, with the Number of Houses per Acre, it is necessary to emphasize the fact that here again the style (detached, semidetached, or otherwise) and size of the house are all- important considerations. Following the method of the previous comparisons, I have given in the Appendix detailed Tables* [-*see Appendix II-]  showing the number of houses per acre (1) as between Soho and the rest of London; (2) as between Soho and the wealthy districts of the \Vest; and (3) as between Soho and the most crowded districts in other parts of London. If these tables are studied it will be seen that Soho has three times as many houses per acre as the average for all London; twice as many as St. George's, Hanover Square, and Kensington; and five times as many as Hampstead. If, however, to put it even more clearly, we compare two adjacent registration sub-districts, viz., St. Anne, Soho, and Mayfair, the result is even more striking:

[-19-] 

Registration Sub-district. Area in Statute Acres.  Total Number of Houses.  Average Number of Houses per Acre.
St. Anne, Soho 53 1,134 21.21
Mayfair 575 3,888 6.438

    That is to say, there are more than three times as many houses per acre in Soho as in the wealthy district of Mayfair.
    If, on the other hand, we compare Soho with other industrial districts in the east and south of London - although here, of course, the smaller size of the houses in the latter districts must be an important factor in the conclusions to be drawn from the comparison-the following result appears:

Civil Parish. Average Number of Houses per Acre
St. Anne, Soho 21
St. James, Westminster * [-*including St. Luke's, Berwick St., Soho-] 20
Spitalfields 26
St. George's-in-the-East 23
Bethnal Green 22
Whitechapel 22
Bermondsey 18
St. Saviour's, Southwark 13

    Now the results of the comparison shown above are certainly remarkable when it is considered that the houses in the industrial districts of the east and south are considerably smaller than the houses occupied by the industrial classes in Soho. They are probably explained, (1) by the fact that the parishes compared differ greatly in size, and [-20-] that in the east and south relatively larger areas are covered by factories and warehouses than is the case in Soho (although the latter is probably at a great disadvantage in the number and size of its shops), and (2) by the further fact that Soho contains no water-areas. This consideration undoubtedly affects the result in three of the districts compared, viz., St. George's-in-the-East, which includes within its boundaries a water-area of nearly thirty acres (29.7); Bethnal Green, which contains a water- area of nearly sixteen acres (15.8); and Whitechapel, - which contains a water-area of just over ten acres; but it does not apply to the remainder of the parishes compared, all of which share with Soho a total lack of water-areas. * [-* Rotherhithe, which has by far the largest water-area of any parish in London (179 acres, out of a total acreage of 754), has an average of only 7 houses per acre.-]
    It is obvious therefore, that the comparison will gain considerably in value if we select not civil parishes, which differ greatly in size, but registration sub-districts of more or less equal area. In the following table I have made careful selection of the most densely crowded sub- districts in East, South, and Central London:

Table showing the Number of Houses per Acre in certain Registration Sub-Districts.

Registration Sub-Districts.   Area in Statute Acres.   Total Number of Houses. Average Number of Houses per Acre.
St. Anne, Soho  53 1,134 21
Bethnal Green, North  141 6,973 49
Borough Road, Southwark 64 2,292 35
St. George's-in-the-East (N.)  147 4,880 33

[-21-] St. George-the-Martyr, Southwark (Kent Road)

103 3,321 32
Hoxton Old Town (Shoreditch) 117 3,260 28
Spitalfields 62 1,672 27
Whitechapel 105 2,606 25
Bermondsey 93 2,314 24
Whitecross St., St. Luke's 32 761 24
Lambeth (Waterloo Road) 67 1,564 23
St. James, Clerkenwell 73 1,526 20

    The change in the method of comparison, it will be seen at once, has considerably affected the result in several cases. It has also made the comparison fairer by almost entirely excluding the important factor of water-areas. In the former comparison the civil parishes of St. George's-in-the-East, Bethnal Green, and Whitechapel, contained no less than 56 acres of water-area, while in the new comparison (Table IV) the sub-districts of these parishes contain only one acre of water-area between them. But while the figures in three or four cases have been considerably increased, the general averages, as compared with Soho, remain surprisingly low, and apparently quite out of proportion to the difference in the size of the houses.
    In view of all the facts it seems difficult to escape the conclusion that the relatively small number of houses per acre in the industrial districts of the east and south, is, in some part at least, attributable to the provision of open spaces, and to greater liberality (scanty though it be) [-22-] in the allowance of garden spaces. In Soho, as I have already pointed out, there are no open spaces, while the houses are practically entirely deficient in yards or gardens. There is considerable ground for satisfaction, however, in the thought that we have at last taken efficient measures to prevent the recurrence of this form of overcrowding in the future. The London Building Act of 1894 recognised for the first time in London the principle that the height of a building should be proportionate to the width of the street on which it abuts, and further, that the amount of open space at the rear of a building should also be proportionate to its height. This is excellent, and its vigorous enforcement will happily prevent the crowding of houses on small areas in the future, even if it leaves untouched and unmodified the evils of the present.
    IV. I come now to a much clearer, and in every way more reliable test of overcrowding, viz., the Number of Persons to an Acre; and here again I have followed the same methods of comparison.
    By a reference to the Tables given in the Appendix * [-*see Appendix III-]  it will be seen that while the average density of population per acre for all London is 56.301, in the Civil Parish of St. Anne, Soho, it is actually 232.21. If again, we compare Soho with the wealthy civil parishes of the West the following result appears:

[-23-]

Civil Parish.

Average Number of Persons per Acre.

St. Anne, Soho

232.21

St. George's, Hanover Square

70.174

Kensington

76.20

Paddington

93.103

    If, to make the comparison clearer, we take adjacent registration sub-districts, the result is as follows:

Registration Sub-District. Area in Statute Acres Population Average Number of Persons per Acre
 St. Anne, Soho 53 12,317 232.21
St. James (including St. Luke's Berwick Street) 163 24,995 153.56
Mayfair 575 23,733 41.158
Belgravia  542 54,631 100.431

    So that Soho has four times as many persons per acre as the average for all London; more than three times as many as the civil parishes of St. George's, Hanover Square, and Kensington two and a third times as many as the sub-district of Belgravia; and nearly six times as many as Mayfair.
    If now we compare Soho with the most crowded districts in East and South London, the relative extent of overcrowding in Soho will more plainly appear: * [-* To make the comparison fairer I have substituted registration sub-districts for civil parishes.-]
    
Table showing the Number of Persons per Acre in (a) Soho, and (b) the most crowded districts in East and South London.

[-24-]

Registration Sub-District. Area in Statute Acres Population Average Number of Persons per Acre
St. Anne, Soho 53 12,317 232

Bethnal Green (North)

141 51,520 365
Spitalfields  62 18,869 304

Borough Road, Southwark

64 16,624 260
Whitecross Street (St. Luke's, E.C.) 32 8,278 258
St. George's-in-the-East (N.) 147 37,738 236
Hoxton Old Town 117 28,354 242

St. James, Clerkenwell

73 16,803 230

City Road, E.C.

127 29,177 229
St. George-the-Martyr, Southwark (Kent Road) 103 21,867 212

St. Giles-in-the-Fields (South)

64 13,454 210

Lambeth (Waterloo Road)

67 14,031 209
Whitechapel (Church)  105 20,298 193
Bermondsey (Leather Market)  93 14,952 160

Whitechapel (Goodman's Fields)

59 9,413 160
Ratcliff  111 14,928 134
Shadwell  68 8,123 120
St. Saviour's, Southwark 127 13,913 109

    The comparative value of these figures will be more clearly realized when I mention that if the population of England and Wales were uniformly distributed, there would be 85 yards between any two neighbouring indivi-[-25-]duals; moreover, there would be 1.29 acres for every person. In Soho, on the other hand, under the present condition of things, there are, as I have shown, no fewer than 232 persons to an acre! If, again, we extend our area of observation, and estimate by square miles, some equally striking contrasts appear. In Wales, for instance, there are five counties with less than 100 inhabitants per square mile; while of the English counties Westmoreland has only 84 persons per square mile, and Rutlandshire, Herefordshire, Huntingdonshire, Shropshire, Cumberland, Lincolnshire, and the North Riding of Yorkshire from 129 to 181 persons per square mile. The average for England and Wales is 497 persons per square mile; in Lancashire it represents 1,938 persons per square mile; while for all London the average is 35,998 persons per square mile. Soho, on the other hand, is populated at the rate of 148,608 persons per square mile!
    
    V. I turn now to what is, perhaps, an even more exact test of overcrowding, viz., the Number of One. Room Tenements. It may be of interest if, in the first place, I give the figures for London as a whole.
    The total number of tenements of all kinds in London is 937,606. * [-*Census Returns 1891-]
    Of these:-
        172,502 are 1 Room Tenements
        189,707 "    2  "          "
        153,189 "    3  "          "
        115,171 "    4  "          "
        [-total-] 630,569

[-26-] while 307,037 are tenements of ,5 rooms and upwards. That is to say, more than two-thirds of the tenements in London consist of from one to four rooms only.
    To put it more clearly still:
    Of the total number of tenements of all kinds in London
        more than 18 per cent, consist of 1 room 
        "        "       20    "    "        "           " 2 rooms
        "        "       16    "    "        "           " 3 rooms
        "        "       12    "    "        "           " 4 rooms
and only 33 per cent, consist of 5 rooms and upwards.

    For the purposes of the present comparison, however, I shall deal with one-room tenements only. The smallest areas in which comparison is possible are sanitary areas, but inasmuch as the results will be shown in each case by percentages these will suffice.
    In the Tables which appear in the Appendix,* [-*see Appendix IV-] and to which in this instance I would urge special attention, I have shown the proportion of one-room tenements (1) as between Soho and the whole of London; (2) as between Soho and the wealthy districts of the West; and (3) as between Soho and other industrial districts. From these it will be seen that no less than 30 per cent. of the total tenements in the Strand Sanitary Area (which includes Soho) are one-room tenements, as against seventeen per cent. in Kensington and Paddington: sixteen per cent. in St. George's, Hanover Square; and ten per cent. in Battersea; while the results of the comparison therein suggested with other industrial districts in the east and south of London will doubtless surprise many.
    [-27-] But the actual distribution of overcrowding is seen much more clearly when we consider the Number of Persons living in one-room tenements. I have therefore added a further list of Tables giving the figures for different districts.* [-*see Appendix V-]
    From these it will be seen that the Strand Sanitary Area (the most densely populated part of which is comprised within the parish of St. Anne, Soho) has as high a percentage of persons living in one-room tenements as Whitechapel and St. Saviour's, Southwark and a higher percentage than Clerkenwell, St. George-the-Martyr, Southwark, Shoreditch, Bethnal Green, Limehouse, and Bermondsey; while the percentage is exceeded only in four cases (one, and part of another, of which are properly West Central Areas), viz., St. George's-in-the-East St. Luke, City Road; Holborn; and St. Giles-in-the-Fields.
    That Soho does not gain, but rather lose, by the compulsory selection of Sanitary Areas as the basis of comparison, will be seen at once when I point out that while in the parish of St. Anne, Soho (which furnishes half the population of the Strand Area) the density of population is 232 persons to an acre; in the remainder of the area covered by the Sanitary Division it is only 113 persons to an acre. The entire area which constitutes the Strand Sanitary Division is made up of the following sub-divisions:-

Population Average Number of Persons per Acre
St. Anne, Soho  12,317 232
St. Paul, Covent Garden  2,142 82
The Precinct of the Savoy  201 28
St; Mary-le-Strand  1,549 110
St. Clement Danes  8,492 154
The Liberty of the Rolls  421 38

[-28-] If it were possible to apply uniform methods of analysis and differentiation to the whole of the Sanitary Areas included in the foregoing comparison, it would probably appear that Soho has a far higher percentage of persons living in one-room tenements than any other district in London.
    But as I have already had occasion to point out, the percentage of persons living in one-room tenements, although an invaluable test of overcrowding, is not a complete or exhaustive one, inasmuch as many of the occupants of two, and three, and even four-room tenements live under crowded conditions (i.e., two or more persons to a room). I propose therefore, as a final test, to submit tables showing the number and percentage of such persons in (1) Soho and the rest of London; (2) Soho and the wealthy districts of the West; (3) Soho and other industrial districts. The figures in this case are so important that I shall give them here in full.

I. Table showing the Number and Percentage of Persons living two or more Persons to a Room in (a) Soho, and (b) all London.

Total Population Total number of Persons living 2 or more Persons to a Room Percentage of Total Population.
Strand Sanitary Area (including St. Anne, Soho) 25,122 10,617 42¼
All London 4,211,743 1,246,613 29 3/5

[-29-] II. Table showing the Number and Percentage of Persons living two or more persons to a room in (a) Soho, and (b) the wealthy Districts of the West.

Sanitary Area. 

Total Population Total number of Persons living 2 or more Persons to a Room Percentage of Total Population.

Strand (including St. Anne, Soho) 

25,122 10,617 42

Kensington 

166,308 41,519 25

Paddington 

117,846 29,866 25

St. George's, Hanover Square 

78,364 14,743 19

    The results of the foregoing comparison are certainly remarkable, and show very clearly to what a serious and unsuspected extent poverty hangs upon the skirts of extreme wealth in the West. It would probably startle nine-tenths of the wealthy residents of Kensington to discover that twenty-five per cent. of the total inhabitants of their Sanitary Area live under crowded conditions.

I come now to the east, south, and central districts:

III. Table showing the Number and Percentage of Persons living two or more Persons to a Room in (a) Soho, and (b) the most Crowded Districts in Other Parts of London. 

Sanitary Area. 

Total Population Total number of Persons living 2 or more Persons to a Room Percentage of Total Population.

Strand (including St. Anne, Soho) 

25,122 10,617 42

St. Luke, City Road

42,440 25,090 59
[-30-] St. George's-in-the-East 45,795 25,351 55
Whitechapel 73,552 40,042 54
Clerkenwell 66,216 35,680 54
Holborn 33,485 17,278 52
St. Saviour, Southwark 27,177 13,190 49
St. George-the-Martyr, Southwark 59,712 29,440 49
Shoreditch 124,009 60,589 49
Bethnal Green 129,132 61,849 48
St. Giles-in-the-Fields 39,782 16,402 41
St. Marylebone 142,404 55,128 39
Limehouse 57,376 21,797 38
Bermondsey 84,682 30,881 36
St. Pancras 234,379 71,584 31

    If we push the analysis further, and take the number and percentage of persons living under condition of extreme overcrowding (ie., four or more persons to a room) the results are almost incredibly appalling:

I. Table showing the Number and Percentage of Persons living four or more Persons to a Room in (a) Soho, and (b) all London. 

Sanitary Area Total Population Total No. of Persons living 4 or more Persons to a Room Percentage of Total Population

Strand (including St. Anne, Soho)  

25,122 2,606 10 2/5

All London 

4,211,743  185,204 4 2/5

[-31-] II. Table showing the Number and Percentage of Persons living four or more Persons to a Room in (a) Soho, and (b) the wealthy districts of the West.

Sanitary Area Total Population Total No. of Persons living 4 or more Persons to a Room Percentage of Total Population

Strand (including St. Anne, Soho)   

25,122 2,606 10

Kensington   

166,308 6923 4

Paddington   

117,846 4491 4

St. George's, Hanover Square   

78,364 1535 2

III. Table showing the Number and Percentage of Persons living four or more Persons to a Room in (a) Soho, and (b) the most Crowded Districts in Other Parts of London.

Sanitary Area Total Population Total No. of Persons living 4 or more Persons to a Room Percentage of Total Population

Strand (including St. Anne, Soho)

25,122 2,606 10

Whitechapel 

73,552 11,154 15

St. Luke, City Road 

42,440 5300 12

St. George's-in-the-East 

45,795 5457 12

Holborn 

33,485 4091 12

St. Giles-in-the-Fields 

39,782 4482 11

Clerkenwell 

66,216 6417 10

St. Saviour's, Southwark, 

27,177 2230 8

St. George-the-Martyr, Southwark 

59,712 4691 8

Shoreditch  

124,009 10,002 8
[-32-] Bethnal Green 129,132 10,924 8
St. Marylebone 142,404 12,026 8
Limehouse 57,376 3346 6
St. Pancras 234,379 14,370 6
Bermondsey * [-* It will be noticed that there is actually one per cent. less extreme overcrowding in Bermondsey than in Kensington.-] 84,682 2942 3

It is but fair, however, in estimating the comparative values of the above percentages, to keep carefully in view the fact that owing to special features in the constitution of some of the areas compared (e.g., the West and West Central areas), the percentages have not in every case equal value. This should be remembered especially in considering the figures for Soho, which loses greatly, from a comparative point of view, by its inclusion in the Strand Sanitary division. As I have already shown, while furnishing one half of the total population of the area, its density of population is slightly more than twice as high as that of the other half, a condition of things that does not exist in those areas of the south and east which show a higher percentage of overcrowding; and inasmuch as the percentages are based upon the total population of the areas, this considerably affects the result.* [-*It is a noteworthy fact in this connection that taking the families of those employed in the tailoring and boot trades, there is a higher per-centage of overcrowding in Central London than in East London.-]
    The same consideration applies to other districts. For example, St. Giles-in-the-Fields, nineteen per cent, of whose population live in one-room tenements (only three [-33-] per cent. less than the poorest district in London), nevertheless includes the wealthy district of St. George's, Bloomsbury; St. Pancras, which has 14½ per cent. of persons living in one-room tenements, includes a number of wealthy squares, and the perhaps even wealthier districts lying around Regent's Park; while Marylebone, which shows a percentage of 17 2/3 of persons living in one-room tenements, contains the wealthy districts lying around Cavendish Square. If due allowance were made for the large proportion of the population living in these wealthy districts where the houses, it must be remembered, are of considerable size, the light thrown upon actual overcrowding in the industrial districts of the West would be startling indeed.*

* It may be interesting to compare the percentages of wealth, judged by the size of tenements, in different districts. Unfortunately, owing to the arrangement of the Census Returns, the appeal can only be made to tenements of five rooms and upwards.

Table showing the Proportion of Tenements of Five Rooms and Upwards in Different Districts.

Sanitary Area 

Percentage of Tenements of Five Rooms and Upwards.

Kensington 

44

St. George's, Hanover Square 

40

Paddington 

36

St. James, Westminster 

28

Marylebone 

25

St. Pancras 

22

Strand 

21

St. Giles-in-the-Fields 

21

Bermondsey 

21

Bethnal Green 

16

Clerkenwell 

15

St. Saviour's, Southwark 

15

Whitechapel 

15

St. George-the-Martyr, Southwark 

13

St. George's-in-the-East 

12

St. Luke, City Road 

12

If the appeal could be made to tenements of ten rooms and upwards, the results would be even more striking.

    [-34-] And yet, making no allowance for this fact, Soho (judged as part of the Strand area) shows as high a percentage of extreme overcrowding as Clerkenwell, and a higher percentage than St. Saviour's, Southwark; St. George-the- Martyr, Southwark; Shoreditch; Bethnal Green; Limehouse; and Bermondsey.
    But we lose sight of comparative differences in the appalling character of the fact that thirty per cent, of the total population of London, and more than fifty per cent. of the industrial population of London, live under crowded conditions: while taking the West End alone (including only the sanitary areas of the Strand; St. James; St. Giles-in-the-Fields; St. Pancras; Marylebone; St. George's, Hanover Square; Kensington; and Paddington), despite the incredible, and quite incalculable wealth of the district, no fewer than 248,552 persons, or 32 per cent, of the entire population of the district, live under crowded conditions; while of these no less than 47,851 persons, or 6½ per cent. of the entire population of the district, live under conditions of extreme overcrowding, i.e., four or more persons to a single room.
    The actual conditions under which the people in various districts live will be seen in the special Tables which I give in the Appendix. * [-*see Appendix VI-]
    The more closely these figures are studied the more terrible and appalling does the problem appear; and yet it is much to be feared that even the Census Returns only inadequately represent the evil, for the overcrowded poor-with the fear of ejection and increased rent ever before them-have an almost invincible reluctance to state the actual facts, so that the official returns are often of [-35-] necessity misleading. But in any case, mere statistical tables can never suggest the awful horrors - I use the word deliberately - of overcrowding as it exists in every industrial district in London, and not least in the West. For example, one case (in Soho) was reported to me of a working man with a wife and a large family, who had barely enough sleeping accommodation for themselves, but who nevertheless, took in several bakers as lodgers. The lodgers were away all night, and came home to sleep in the daytime, so that in this way the beds were always occupied. Precisely the same thing happened in another house in the same district. The announcement that may sometimes be seen in Soho of "Part of a room to let," represents what is frequently a very serious aggravation of the evils of overcrowding. In one case a small back-room was occupied by a young, newly-married couple, who took in a single-man lodger who slept in a chair-bedstead. In the same house two back-rooms, both small, were occupied by a man and his wife and three men-lodgers, and the rooms were further let out at night for gambling purposes at the rate of one shilling per hour. Subsequently the woman (whose husband was a baker and therefore away all night) got rid of the men-lodgers and boarded a prostitute, and let her rooms out to this woman as a common brothel.
    In a neighbouring street a small back-room was occupied by seven persons, viz., a family consisting of a man, his wife, and three children; and two (sometimes three) lodgers. A tenant in the same house gave information that part of the occupants stayed up gambling (which was always being carried on) while the others slept; but even then it seemed probable that some must sleep under the bed as well as upon it.
    [-36-] A house in another street of which information was given me was fearfully overcrowded. In two rooms were a family of eleven persons, viz., a man, his wife, and nine children (one a son 20 years of age, a daughter 19, another 14, another 13, and several below this age), and a lodger aged 22, making twelve persons in all. The man was a tailor and carried on his trade in the same room. They slept four in a bed.
    Another small room (top floor back) in the same house was occupied by four persons; another (top floor front) by five persons; and another room downstairs by five persons. All the rooms were exceedingly dirty, and a tenant (a woman who had been reduced in circumstances, and who was now occupying a single room in the same house) stated that it was impossible to walk through the house without picking up vermin. In this house, it will be seen, five rooms were occupied by twenty-five persons! These facts may well seem startling when the history of the locality, and the extreme wealth of the surrounding districts, are considered; but they by no means reveal the evil in exaggerated or very exceptional forms. On the contrary, were it necessary, they could easily be multiplied.
    Precisely the same condition of things prevails in the immediately surrounding districts, accompanied, as is frequently the case in Soho, by hideously insanitary conditions. For example, only a few weeks back * [-May 20th 1896-] the officers of the St. Giles's Board of Works applied for, and obtained, closing orders in respect of certain houses situated just on the borders of Soho. Dr. Lovett, the medical officer of health, in giving evidence as to the condition of the houses [-37-] in question, stated that the death-rate of one amounted to 129 per 1000! All were in a bad state of repair from roof to basement. Some of them had yards at the back, but they were no larger than an ordinary table. The roofs were defective, and the sanitary arrangements exceedingly bad. The doctor added that he found large holes in one of the rooms. He understood that they were caused by rats. He was told that rats entered one of the bedrooms, and that one child had to keep awake to prevent the rats attacking the other children in the room.
    In another closely adjoining district (a little to the north of Soho, and in the immediate neighbourhood of Fitzroy Square) a very similar condition of things exists. A large proportion of the houses are overcrowded, while the condition of things in several of the streets almost baffles description. One street, for example, is largely occupied by persons with large families who find it difficult to obtain accommodation elsewhere. Most of the houses are let out in one or two-room tenements, many of the rooms containing five, six, and seven persons; the sanitary arrangements are of the worst description, while the houses generally are in a miserable state of repair, such mishaps as a portion of the ceiling falling upon the people's food at meal times being among the least serious of the results of the general delapidation. The cellar-kitchens, which are altogether unfit for human habitation, nevertheless let at high rents. One-consisting of two wretchedly small and dark tenements, said to be very damp, and swarming with rats-was occupied by a family of six persons at a rent of six shillings per week. Even the wash-house attached to the house was let separately as a work-shed at a rent of three shillings per week, the consequence being that all [-38-] the tenants (some of whom took in washing) were compelled to wash and boil their clothes in pie-dishes and saucepans, which were afterwards used for cooking purposes. When the landlord was remonstrated with for depriving his tenants of the wash-house he coolly referred them to the public wash-houses, where, of course, the women would have to pay for accommodation. In this case - and I believe in others also - the street-door was open day and night, and I am informed that it was no uncommon thing at night to discover two or three homeless persons asleep on the stairs inside. Moreover, despite the large number of separate families occupying the house, there was only one W.C. for the whole of the occupants (the other having been closed for a considerable period), and this was so situated that people from the street freely used it.
    Another house next door, belonging to the same landlord, was equally crowded. The front cellar-kitchen, very damp and dirty (the drains having an outlet near the window) was occupied by a family of eight persons. The man and his wife worked at tailoring, using the same room, and the rent was 4/6 per week. The back cellar- kitchen, miserably small and dark, was occupied by three persons (man, wife, and lodger) and the rent was 2/6 per week. The ground floor, consisting of a small shop and two small parlours, was occupied by a family of six persons man, wife (tailors), and four children, at a rent of fourteen shillings per week. The occupants and rents of the other rooms in this house were as follows:

[-39-] 

Occupants. Rent per week.

First floor front (1 room)

man and wife 7/-

First floor back (1 room)

man, wife, and daughter(16)  5/6

Second floor, front (1 room)

man, wife, and 5 children 6/6

Second floor back (1 room)

man, wife, and 2 children 5/-

Top floor front (1 room)

man, wife, and 1 child 5/6

Top floor back (1 room)

man, wife, and 2 children 4/6

    That is to say, no fewer than forty persons were crowded together in this house, and it is probable that that number is often exceeded. And yet for all these persons there was only one W.C., and that through the tank overhead leaking was hardly ever fit for use, and the drains were frequently out of order.
    Another house immediately adjoining was similarly overcrowded, and in this case also, there was only one W. C., which was always in a filthy condition. * [-* I am glad to say that quite recently, after repeated agitation, pressure has been brought to bear upon the landlord, and a second W.C. has been built in several of the houses. The condition of things that actually exists in this neighbourhood can, however, be realized when I mention than in one of the houses referred to there were at the time that the second W.C. was added no fewer than forty-four persons (including children), as many as nine being crowded into an underground kitchen. Moreover, some of the houses in this street are still furnished with only one W.C.-] The wash-house was let to a laundry as part of the shop and was not available for use by the rest of the tenants. The cellar- kitchens of this house were let out as a bake-house to some Italians, who used it for the manufacture of fancy confectionery. It mattered nothing, apparently, that close by, under the very windows of the bake-house, there was a breakage of the sewer-pipes! It is perhaps a happy [-40-] ignorance that keeps the majority of the community unaware of the conditions under which their food is prepared. Of the 700 bake-houses, for example, which are to be found in West London, a very large proportion are underground, * [-* Out of 200 bake-houses in the St. Pancras district alone, only 25 are above the ground-level.-]  and the condition of many would certainly not bear close investigation. The ordinary precautions of cleanliness are often flagrantly disregarded, and this is conspicuously the case in bake-houses where confectionery is made. Happily, the Factory and Workshop Act of 1895, absolutely prohibits the use of underground premises as bake-houses, except in the case of premises so used prior to January 1st, 1896, but it may be seriously questioned whether in view of all the facts it is not necessary to go further and make the provisions of the Act retrospective.
    The same remark applies to underground tenements generally. Things have undoubtedly improved in recent years, but much more stringent regulations are required to give the overcrowded poor in the highly-rented districts of the West a chance of even moderately healthy dwellings. Personally I am inclined to think that the principle of the London Building Act of 1894 (which requires that in the case of new buildings having habitable basements there shall be provided in the rear of the building, and exclusively belonging to it, art open space of not less than 100 square feet, free from any erection above the level of the pavement), should be applied to all existing basement tenements. It may safely be said that so far as Soho and the immediately surrounding districts are concerned, very few of the underground tenements are really habitable.
    [-41-] The overcrowding of these tenements is often so skilfully concealed that few would suspect it who did not know the district intimately. For example, information was given me of a family of eight persons who occupied an underground kitchen tenement in Soho. A visitor calling at the house, however, would never see more than three or four of the eight persons actually living there, for the children and young people had been so trained that immediately upon the arrival of a stranger, of whose approach they secured full warning, they escaped into another room. This is a common device deliberately resorted to to escape detection and to avoid the necessity of additional accommodation with its inevitable increase of rent; and so long as rents are so outrageously high it is difficult to see how it can be overcome.

[-42-]

CHAPTER IV

THE PROBLEM OF RENT

THE rent for three rooms in Soho ranges from fourteen to twenty shillings per week, while one case was reported to me where the rent for three rooms, in a by no means desirable street, was actually twenty-five shillings per week! Single rooms rarely let for less than five or six shillings - six shillings, indeed, is said to be the average rent in the district-while frequently they let for much more. The following cases, which are by no means exceptional, will illustrate the seriousness of this question of rent. They are selected from five different, but closely adjacent, streets in Soho.
    I select first a house, in a thoroughly representative street (A), occupied by five different families.
    The ground and first floors were let out as a shop and Jewish Club. The rent for these two floors (four rooms) was 30/- per week. The second floor front (one room) was let for 6/6 a week, and two small rooms on the same floor for the same sum. The top floor front (one room) was occupied by a man, wife, and tour children, and frequently in the daytime by two or three tailoresses in addition - the room serving for work-room, kitchen, and [-43-] bedroom. The rent was 7/- per week. A very small back-room on the same floor was occupied by five persons (man, wife, and three children) at a rental of 4/6 per week.
    For all these people there was only one W.C. and one water-tap. The water-cistern (from which all the tenants drew their water) formed the top of the W.C., with which it was directly connected for flushing purposes.
     
    B
Street. In a house in this street a ground floor, consisting of two rooms, let for 18/- a week.
    In another house three rooms on the ground floor let for 14/-a week. In a third house in the same street three rooms on the first floor let for 18/- a week; three rooms on the second floor for 16/- a week; and one room on the top floor for 8/- a week. In another very dirty house in the same street a floor consisting of three rooms actually let for 25/- a week!
     
    C
Street. Two small attics (only one of which had a fire-place) in a house in this street let for 8/- a week.

   
D Street. In this street a first floor (two rooms) let for 14/- a week; while in another house a first floor of three rooms let for 21/- per week.

    E Street. In this case a first floor of two rooms let for 14/- a weck, while a top floor, also of two rooms, let for 8/- a week.

    It will thus be seen how tremendous a factor is the question of rent in the housing problem in Soho.
    Happily the evils of overcrowding in the district are being partially met by the erection of blocks of "model dwellings." These let readily, and, generally speaking, [-44-] the accommodation is good, although cases of overcrowding are by no means rare even here. Nor are they free, in some cases, from grave structural defects. In one block, for example, containing accommodation for a large number of families, the defects are exceedingly serious. There is only one entrance to the building, and this has to serve for exit as well. On entering the building a flight of steep wooden steps faces you, leading to the first floor of the building, and from this narrow passages diverge to right and left, some leading by other steps (in each case a narrow wooden staircase) to the top of the building, which consists altogether of six floors. Should a fire occur at the bottom of the building a serious disaster would in all probability result, and this is by no means an unlikely contingency, inasmuch as the whole of the front ground-floor is let out in shops.
    Still, speaking generally, in point of cleanliness and convenience these dwellings are infinitely superior to the ordinary tenements of the district, but they certainly have not solved the difficult problem of rent which, after all, lies at the root of the evil of overcrowding. *

* In the above "block" of buildings, for example, the rents are as follows:

Single rooms (by no means large) 6/- per week
    Two small back rooms 7/6 per week
    Three small back rooms 10/- per week
    Two front rooms 10/- per week
    Two front rooms and one back room 16/- per week
In another similar block in Soho the rents are as follows:
    Two rooms 8/6 per week
    Three rooms 10/- per week
It may be interesting to compare these with rents in similar buildings in other districts. In the Peabody Buildings, for example, the rents are as follows: 

One room 2 rooms 3 rooms
Shadwell, E. 2/- to 2/3 3/3 to 3/6 4/3 to 4/6
Southwark Street, S.E. 3/- 4/3 to 4/9 5/3 to 5/9

[-45-]

CHAPTER V

RESULTS OF OVERCROWDING

If now we turn from the facts of overcrowding to the results, the seriousness of the problem is at once realized. It is probable that no adequate statement of these results is possible, inasmuch as many of the most serious of them elude direct observation; but - leaving out of view, for the moment, the disastrous moral results - it is still possible in some measure to estimate them.

1. Longevity.

A not uninteresting clue is suggested by a comparison - such as I have given in the Appendix - of the ages of the people in different localities. In the Tables referred to * [-* See Appendix VII-]  it will be found that I have taken the number and percentages of persons of sixty years and upwards in various districts in London, and the results of the series of comparisons carried out on that basis are certainly striking. For example, in the Strand Sanitary Area (which, it will be remembered, includes Soho) the number of persons - male and female - of sixty years and upwards, [-46-] represents 5 3/4 7/0 % of the total population of the area, as against 8¼% in St. George's, Hanover Square; 7¼% in Kensington; 5 1/3% in St. George-the-Martyr, Southwark; 5¾% in St. Luke's, City Road; 6 1/20% in St. George's-in-the-East; 6 17/20% in St. Saviour's, Southwark; and 6 2/5% which is the average for all London.
    It will thus be seen that in the matter of longevity Soho compares unfavourably with every district but two in the foregoing list. The difference so far as the other industrial districts are concerned, it is true, is only fractional; but as between Soho and the wealthy districts of the West it is very perceptible. In every district but one (i.e., St. Saviour's, Southwark) it will be noticed that women have a distinct advantage over men.

II. Rate of Mortality (General)

A much more startling proof of the disastrous physical results of overcrowding appears when we examine the mortality statistics for various districts. That the two results are intimately related would appear from this, that every increase in the density of population, as between different districts, is followed by a proportionate increase in the rate of mortality. The following Table, which I quote from the last Report (1894) of the Medical Officer of Health for London, will make this clear

[-47-]

Table showing the Relation between Overcrowding and Mortality.

Proportion of total population living more than two persons in a room (in tenements of less than five rooms).

Death-rate per 1000 "All causes"

Districts with under 10 per cent

12.71

Districts with 10 to 15

15.68

Districts with 15 to 20 

17.07

Districts with 20 to 25

18.09

Districts with 25 to 30

19.45

Districts with 30 to 35 

20.83

Districts with over 35 

21.85

    If, however, we split up further (as it will be seen I have done in the Tables given in the Appendix * [-*see Appendix VIII-] and compare the rate of mortality in different sanitary areas, a similar result appears. For example, in the years 1885-'93 the death-rate per thousand* [-*In each case the "corrected" and not the "crude" death-rate is given-] in the Strand Sanitary Area (including Soho) was 30.1 per cent., as against 18.8 per cent. in St. George's, Hanover Square; 18.3 In Paddington; 19.0 in Kensington; and 14.4 in Hampstead; while the figures for 1894 (the latest available) although better all round, show a precisely similar relative difference. If, again, we turn to the industrial districts in East and South London the comparison, it will be seen, is still singularly unfavourable to the West Central district.* [-*see Appendix VIII-]  Indeed, taking the entire period 1885-'94 it appears that, with the single exception of St. George's-in-the-East (where, however, the difference is very slight), the Strand Sanitary Area has a higher [-48-] general death-rate than any other district in London; while as compared with the wealthy districts that immediately surround it, its rate of mortality is extremely high.

III. Deaths from Phthisis.

    If, moreover, instead of taking the general death-rate (i.e., deaths from all causes), we examine the deaths from phthisis, an even more serious result appears. The close and unhappy relation that exists between this terrible disease and overcrowding is shown in the following Table:

Table showing the Deaths from Phthisis in Proportion to Overcrowding.

Proportion of total population living more than two persons in a room ( in tenements of less than five rooms).

Death from "Phthisis" Rate per 1000 

Districts with under 10 per cent

1.07

Districts with 10 to 15

1.38

Districts with 15 to 20 

1.57

Districts with 20 to 25

1.81

Districts with 25 to 30

2.11

Districts with 30 to 35 

2.26

Districts with over 35 

2.46

If, however, instead of dealing with general areas, as above, we compare the returns for separate sanitary areas, the following results appear: * [-* These figures appear to me to be so important that I have inserted them in the text instead of relegating them to the Appendix.-]

I. Table showing the Deaths from Phthisis in (a) Soho, and (b) All London, in 1894.

Sanitary Area.

Deaths from Phthisis. Rate per 1000 living.

Strand (including St. Anne, Soho)

3.2

All London

1.7

[-49-]

II. Table showing the Deaths from Phthisis in (a) Soho, and (b) the Wealthy Districts of the West, in 1894.

Sanitary Area. 

Deaths from Phthisis  Rate per 1000 living.

Strand (including St. Anne, Soho) 

3.2

St. George's, Hanover Square 

1.3

Paddington 

1.3

Kensington 

1.5

Hampstead 

0.9

III. Table showing the Deaths from Phthisis in (a) Soho, and (b) in the Most Overcrowded Districts in other Parts of London, in 1894.

Sanitary Area.

Deaths from Phthisis. Rate per 1000 living

Strand (including St. Anne, Soho)

3.2

St. Giles-in-the-Fields

3.1

St. Saviour's, Southwark

2.9

St. George-the-Martyr, Southwark

2.8

St. Luke, City Road

2.8

Whitechapel

2.6

Holborn

2.4

Limehouse

2.4

St. George's-in-the-East

2.3

Clerkenwell

2.3

Bermondsey

2.2

It is evident, therefore, that this terrible disease - the most terrible, probably, of all the physical results of overcrowding - is more fatally prevalent in Soho than in any other district in London, while the contrast between [-50-] Soho and the wealthy neighbouring districts is most painfully marked.

IV. Infant Mortality.

    I turn now to another test of the serious physical results of overcrowding, viz., the rate of Infant Mortality.
    In 1894 there were in London, according to the official returns, 18,667 deaths of children under one year of age, showing a proportion of 143 deaths per thousand births. Now if we analyze these figures and compare the rate of infant mortality in different sanitary areas-as I have done in the tables given in the Appendix* [-*see Appendix IX-] the result is certainly noteworthy, although, of course, too much reliance must not be placed upon figures that relate to one year only. A reference to those tables, however, will show that in 1894 the deaths of children under one year of age in the Strand (Soho) Sanitary Area amounted to 179 per 1000 births. That is to say, the rate of infant mortality was 36 per 1000 higher in Soho than the average for all London, and 64 per 1000 higher than that of the neighbouring district of St. George's, Hanover Square; while (if we exclude Holborn where the rate of infant mortality is virtually identical - i.e., 1 per 1000 higher than Soho) it is exceeded only in two districts, viz., St. George-the-Martyr, Southwark; and St. George's-in-the-East.

V. Risk of Infection.

One other serious result of overcrowding remains to be mentioned; and that is the increased liability to infection [-51-] for which it is responsible, and the extreme difficulty of securing anything like efficient disinfection where outbreaks of fever or small-pox or other zymotic diseases occur. It is true that under the Public Health Act of 1891 local authorities are required to provide, free of charge, accommodation for temporary shelter for the members of families whose homes are being disinfected; but such accommodation is extremely limited,* [-* In 1894. for example (I quote from the recently published Report of the Medical Officer for London) the total accommodation provided by the Strand Sanitary authorities consisted of three rooms and a lavatory in Little Chapel Street, Soho, while the population of the area was 25,122. In Marylebone (population 142,404) accommodation was provided for four families; while in St. Pancras (population 234,379) four rooms were provided.-]  while the poor can rarely be prevailed upon to use it. It is difficult to estimate the full extent of the difference which overcrowding makes in the spread of disease, but some idea of it may be gathered from the following table, which gives the death- rates from the principal zymotic diseases,* [-* I.e., small-pox, measles, scarlet fever, diphtheria, whooping-cough, and fever.-] and the percentages of overcrowding, in certain selected districts, in 1894.

Sanitary Area.

Proportion of Overcrowding (Percentage of Total Population) Death-Rate per 1000 from Principal Zymotic Diseases, 1894

Hampstead 

15 1.38

St. George's, Hanover Square 

19 1.40

Strand (including St. Anne, Soho) 

42 2.68

St. George's-in-the-East

55 4.95

    If, instead of dealing with one year, we take the figures [-52-] for the previous nine years, the result, as the following table will show, is practically the same:-

Sanitary Area.

Proportion of Overcrowding (Percentage of Total Population) Death-Rate per 1000 from Principal Zymotic Diseases, 1894

Hampstead 

15 1.32

St. George's, Hanover Square 

19 1.70

Strand (including St. Anne, Soho) 

42 2.49

St. George's-in-the-East

55 4.62

[-53-]

CHAPTER VI

REMEDIES FOR OVERCROWDING

    I HAVE now said enough to show how incalculably serious is this problem of overcrowding, not only in Soho and the immediately surrounding districts, but also in every industrial district in London. It may be well, before leaving the subject, to consider very briefly the question of remedies. It may be admitted at once that what is urgently needed is not so much further legislation as the vigorous and efficient administration of existing sanitary laws. In this respect, undoubtedly, we have made considerable progress in recent years, but very much more remains to be done before our system of sanitary inspection will be anything like perfect. It is undeniable that given efficient administration of existing sanitary laws many of the most serious features of the problem would at once disappear, or, at least, be considerably modified. But efficient administration is impossible without adequate inspection, and this is precisely where we have hitherto failed. In 1894, for example (I quote from the latest available returns), there were only 219 sanitary inspectors for the whole of London, and of these 8 were employed temporarily; while for the whole of West, and West [-54-] Central London (including eight separate sanitary areas) there were only 43.
    The following table will show the number of sanitary inspectors in each sanitary division in West, and West Central London, and the average number of inhabited houses assigned - on the principle of an equal division - to each:

No. of Sanitary Inspectors
Sanitary District Permanent Temporary Total No. of Inhabited Houses to each Inspector No. of Inhabitants to Each Inspector

Paddington

3 3 4,824 39,282

St. George's, Hanover Square 

3 3 3,734 26,121

Kensington 

7 7* 3,155 23,758

St. Pancras 

9 9 2,724 26,042

St. Marylebone 

6 2 8 1,923 17,800

St. James, Westminster 

2 2 1,296 12,497

St. Giles-in-the-Fields

5 5 746 7,956

Strand

6 6 358 4,187

All London

211 8 219 2,505 19,230

* In addition to these there are two female inspectors for the inspection of work-shops and laundries, and two street inspectors are also employed.

Now it must be obvious, even to the least initiated person, that a staff represented by the foregoing figures is altogether insufficient to meet the heavy demands of sanitary inspection in the districts referred to, especially when it is considered that the least overcrowded of these districts (i.e., St. George's, Hanover Square) has 19 per cent, of its total population living under crowded conditions. And this will become even more evident when [-55-]  it is remembered that "domestic workshops ", which abound in certain districts of the West (e.g., in Soho) and which greatly aggravate the evils of overcrowding, are excluded from the sanitary provisions of the Factory and Workshop Acts, the sanitary liability in respect of them having been transferred by the Act of 1891 to the local authority acting through its sanitary officers. In certain districts (e.g., St. Marylebone, and Soho) the duties are subdivided, and one officer is set apart for the inspection of workshops and the visitation of the homes of outworkers. The arrangement is an admirable one in principle, but when it is remembered that in St. Marylebone there are nearly 4000 workshops and workplaces, and that in Soho an exceedingly large proportion of the houses are used in this way, the utter inadequacy of the arrangements for inspection at once becomes apparent. Once more let me say that I am fully alive to the great improvements in our local administrative machinery that have taken place in recent years, but in view of all the evidence before us it can hardly be questioned that we arc still a very long way from the goal of administrative efficiency.
    One other point. I have already shown that so far as Soho and the industrial districts immediately surrounding it are concerned, the problem of overcrowding is largely one of rent. This is a question which, since the workers have no option but are compelled, under existing conditions, to live in the district, must sooner or later be faced. It represents a social, as well as economic, fact of the utmost importance. Meantime, however, it may well be asked whether the difficulty is quite insuperable even under existing circumstances, and whether it is not possible for [-56-] wealthy individuals or philanthropic syndicates (or even the London County Council), to do for Soho and the other industrial districts of the West what the Peabody Trustees and others have done for other parts of London? I have already shown* [-*see page 44-]  how unfavourably the rents of existing blocks of "model" dwellings in Soho compare with those of the Peabody buildings. It only remains to add that in 1895 the death-rate of the Peabody buildings was nearly 2.0 per 1000 below the general death-rate of London, while the rate of infant mortality was 14.7 per 1000 lower than the average for all London.

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