London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Bermondsey 1858

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Bow from Scarlatina which were attributed by the father to a "Black
Ditch" in the rear of the house. I consider it my duty to allude to
this circumstance in order that We may bear in mind the necessity that
exists, as soon as it is practicable, to deal effectually with the open and
very offensive Blue Anchor Lane Ditch, which I look upon as highly
dangerous to the public health.
On reference to the mortalit y tables it will be observed that, with the
exception of one or two isolated cases, we hare hitherto escaped that
very malignant and fatal disease termed Diptheria, and it has not
assumed with us the character or form of an epidemic; that is a subject
for congratulation, and ought also to be a motive for increased
sanitary precautions, inasmuch as in various districts, especially in
country where no drainage existed, or was in a defective condition,
there are many lamentable instances of 4, 5, and 6 of a family
being swept of by this disease. Upon enquiry and investigation I find,
that although Diptheria has prevailed to an alarming extent in spots
and places around the Metropolis- which from their situation would
generally be supposed peculiarly exempt from its ravages—that in
almost every instance, glaring sanitary evils existed, such as overflowing
cesspool, large stagnant receptacles for fermenting and putrifying aniand
vegetable refuse, combined with most inefficient drainage.
On the 19th instant I received a communication from the Burial
Board, in reference to the burial ground belonging to Guy's and St
Holland now used as a timber yard.I accompanied Mr.
Holland, the Government Inspector to the spot on the 24th instant; as
he is about to report his views on the subject to the Secretary of
I refrain from any further comment at present.
On the 14th instant, in consequence of frequent complaints as to a
considerable nuisance to the neighbourhood of Weston Street and
Molesworth Square, I, accompanied by your Inspector visited the
premises of Messrs. Dixon and Whiting, and Mr. Fish, with reference
to the smoke arising from their consumption of tan and refuse. It
appears to me that no adequate precaution is used to prevent such process
being a nuisance and annoying the neighbourhood. Since the
erection of a second furnace in Mr. Fish's premises the grievance has
in height, and there is no provision for consuming the smoke whatever.
I advise that notice be given to remedy what I belive to be a nuisance
and just ground of complaint.
Mr. Chapman in the Bermondsey New Road has not removed the
pigs which he promised to do before Christmas, and I advise prompt
proceedings against him, as they are a nuisance, and the place is in a
filthy and unwholesome condition.
I am, Gentlemen,
Your obedient servant,
JOHN CHALLICE.
22


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