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

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Kensington 1923

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Kensington Borough]

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MORTUARY AND CHAPEL OF REST. During the year 86 bodies were deposited in the Public Mortuary under the following circumstances:—

At the request of relatives or friends of the deceased50
At the request of undertakers14
By the Police22

In 28 cases, post-mortem examinations were made under the Coroner's warrant.
Thirty-one bodies were deposited in the Chapel of Rest, Avondale Park.
Four samples of rag flock were analysed and reported on during the year. They contained
29, 18.75, 17.5 and 15 parts of chlorine per 100,000, the limit set by the Regulations being 30
ACTS, 1920-23.
Under Section 2 of the Rent and Mortgage Interest (Restrictions) Act of 1920, a tenant is
entitled at any time, not being less than three months after the date of an increase of rent
permitted by the Act, to apply to the County Court for an Order suspending such increase, on the
ground that the house is not in all respects reasonably fit for human habitation or is otherwise not
in a reasonable state of repair. Before he can succeed, the tenant must satisfy the Court by the
production of a certificate of the Council or otherwise that his application is well founded.
Section 5 of an amending Act passed on the 31st July, 1923, provides that where the tenant
has obtained from the Council a certificate that the house is not in a reasonable state of repair and
has served a copy of the certificate upon the landlord, production of such certificate shall be a good
defence to any claim against him for the payment of the 40 per cent, increase of rent permitted
under the 1920 Act.
Section 18 of the 1923 Act provides that for the purposes of the Act of 1920 the certificate of
the Council as to the condition of a dwelling-house shall specify what works require to be executed
in order to put the dwelling-house into a reasonable state of repair, and that on any application
being made to the Council for such a certificate or report, a fee of one shilling shall be payable.
Applications made to the Council in 1920 for certificates totalled 10 and the number granted
was 2. The figures for 1921 were 42 applications and 21 certificates granted; for 1922, 19
applications and 9 certificates granted ; and for 1923, 38 applications and 17 certificates granted.
This comparative failure by tenants to attempt to make use of these provisions of the Acts is
probably due mainly to the fact that many houses in a defective state of repair come under the
notice of the Sanitary Inspectors, who put the Public Health Acts into operation.
There are, of course, cases where the rents have not been increased to the full extent permitted
owing to the defective condition of the houses, whilst in other cases owners of houses in good repair
have not availed themselves of the advantages granted them by the Act.
The cleansing of verminous persons is carried out at the Medicinal Baths, Blechynden Mews.
The building was specially constructed for the work and consists of a Waiting Room, a
Shampoo Room, three Bath Rooms, three Dressing Rooms, and a Disinfecting Room with a very
efficient high pressure steam disinfector.
In 1920 an agreement was entered into with the London County Council, which provides for
the use of the Medicinal Baths by the County Council for the cleansing of children attending elementary
schools in and around Kensington. Under this agreement the County Council guarantee to
the Borough Council a minimum payment of £450 per annum for a period of five years.
Technically, in accordance with the provisions of the Children Act, 1908, children sent from
the elementary schools are cleansed by the School Nurse in the employ of the London County
Council, who attends at the Station for the purpose, and is responsible to her employers for the
effective use of the apparatus provided. In practice, the actual work of bathing and disinfecting
garments is executed by the Borough Council's servants under the supervision of the School Nurse.
A further agreement in regard to the cleansing of verminous inmates of common lodging
houses was made with the County Council in 1920, in which the Borough Council have agreed to
cleanse verminous inmates from Kensington common lodging houses free of charge and to bath
those sent by the London County Council officers from common lodging houses in neighbouring
boroughs at a rate of a 1/- per bath.
The cleansing of Kensington persons not sent by officers of the County Council is performed
free of charge by the Superintendent and his wife under the direction of the Medical Officer
of Health.