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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Montpelier Row, Blackheath.—The untrapped gully-holes receiving sewage
from stables and houses in the Mews, at the back of Montpelier Row, emit at times
noxious effluvia; several cases of fever have occurred in this locality, and a coachman
and his wife who reside opposite one of these holes frequently suffer from ill health,
which has been attributed to the above-mentioned cause.
Lewisham Hill, Lewisham.—An accumulation of refuse and drainage (Thomson's
Nursery, Lewisham Hill), reported by the Inspector of Nuisances, is a nuisance to
the neighbourhood round and prejudicial to health, and means should be adopted for its
speedy removal.
Bath Place, Blackheath.—An accumulation of drainage in this place is likely
to occasion disease, and requires the construction of a drain for its removal.
West Kent Park, Sydenham.—A drain receiving the sewage from the North
Road, has no outlet; the contents of the sewer have been during the last month overflowing
from a gully hole at the East-end of this Road, and opposite to three houses
inhabited by highly respectable tenants; one of these tenants has removed in consequence,
and two members of a family residing in the last house have been suffering
from fever and abscess.
The effluvium has been most offensive; means have been attempted by the owners
of the property to remove this nuisance, but from the drains having been improperly
constructed the attempt has only partially succeeded, and a large hole containing
sewage still remains open, which is dangerous to health as well as unsafe for passengers.
Lower Sydenham.—Eight cottages and some other houses drain into four privies,
situated between the houses opposite to the Dolphin Inn.
Some open drains and a noxious pond also exist here, and it is requisite that some
means should be used to effect the cleansing and drainage of this part.
Crystal Crescent, Upper Sydenham.—The drainage and roads of this locality
are in a most unhealthy condition and require attention. The road from never having
been ballasted is in wet weather a complete quagmire.
Stanstead Lane, Sydenham.—A cesspool overflowing into the ditch forms a dangerous
and offensive nuisance to the inhabitants of this locality and requires your order
for its removal.
West Kent Park..—The gully holes in this neighbourhood arc without gratings,
and are very dangerous to passengers.


Week ending.Weight of air. Barometer corrected. Mean inches.Temperature of Air. Thermometer.Prevailing winds.Rainy days.Amount of rain in inches.
Highest.LowestMean of daily readings.
March 1.30.36557 633 337 9S W &N E0.00
8.30.26546 026 034 3N. E.0.00
15.29.6650 026 536 3E.0.00
22.29.82352 031 142 8S.E.&N.E.61.29

Sydenham, 27th March, 1856.
In presenting my fourth report upon the sanitary condition of the district, I beg leave
to direct your attention to the fact that some difficulty has arisen in parts of the district,
more especially in Sydenham, among those persons who have received notices to drain,
from the fact that they can only drain upon their neighbours' property or into the open
ditches, as in most of these localities no sewer exists for the ultimate removal of the
drainage. In the Sydenham Ward and in Penge, from the nature of the soil, a cesspool
rapidly fills, and would require constant pumping out to prevent overflow. The evil is
equally great in Blackheath and Lewisham, as the wells are likely to become contaminated
from cesspools; all this was however explained at length in my first report.