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

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Lewisham 1856

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Lewisham District]

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The drainage of the Wells Road, to which I called your attention in my first report,
is also in a dreadful state; and the new houses upon the hill above have turned their
drains into the open ditch, contaminating the brook which flows by the side of the road.
A house at the back of the "Bird in Hand," High Street, Sydenham, is in an unhealthy
state from a cesspool lately attached to a privy in the corner of the house, in the
occupation of Mr. Cooper, chimney sweep; all the family have been suffering from
diarrhoea in consequence.
Some of the houses in Russell Street, Sydenham, are suffering from overflowing
privies, &c., and general dirt.
The Albert Road, Sydenham Park, containing many first class houses, occupied by most
respectable ratepayers, is in a dangerous, dirty, and unwholesome condition. Park Road,
which runs into it from the High Street, has been within the last month put into proper
I should inform you that these roads have been open to the public for several years
past, and have been frequently repaired at the expence of the landlords of adjoining


Week ending.Weight of air. Barometer corrected. Mean inches.Temperature op Air. Thermometer.Prevailing winds.Rainy days.Amount of rain in inches.
Highest.Lowest.Mean of daily readings.
Feb. 2.29.77644 225 833 5S. W.20.16
9.29.84058 028 944 0S.W,30.19
16.29.67654 036 347 0S.30.55
23.29.97950 033 035 6N. E.30.19

Sydenham, February 28th, 1856.
In presenting this my third Monthly Report as to the sanitary state of the District,
I have mentioned such nuisances as are decidedly detrimental to health and require
immediate attention.
I have to request your order that a depot or depots of disinfecting material may be
established in one or more parts of the District, which may be readily accessible for
the quick removal of noxious exhalations, especially where it would take some time to
procure their removal by the construction of works. That such a plan is desirable, may
be inferred from the state of health of Willow Walk, Rushey Green, Dartmouth Row,
and West Kent Park, Sydenham, &c., to which places I have already called your
The births of 25 girls and 27 boys are registered in the District, occurring between
the 23rd of February and 24th of March.
From the tables of mortality appended it will be seen that the prevalent cold winds
and low temperature are particularly detrimental at this season of the year to old
people and infants.
Of 27 deaths registered between the 23rd of February and 24th of March,
11 have occurred between the ages of 60 and 82;
10 in children under 2 years of age;
10 of these have arisen from diseases of the air passages;
Meteorological observations are appended.
I have the honor to remain, Gentlemen,
Yours respectfully,
Medical Officer of Health.