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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As the obtaining pure water is absolutely necessary for the preservation of health, I
have thought it necessary to examine into the contaminations of the Ravensbourne
River. I give a list of some of the drainages entering this river, and solicit your orders
for their immediate removal.
Several localities require your orders also for their sanitary improvement; a list of
which is appended.
In Waterloo Place, Rushey Green, smallpox has again made its appearance, and one
death has occurred.
Measles has been endemic in the St. George's children's poor house; 30 cases have
occurred, and 7 deaths have taken place from this disease. The house is perfectly cleanly
and has been but recently connected with the main sewer; but several open offensive
privies still exist. The children are about to be removed to Mitcham.
Measles have also been prevalent in the Anerley Industrial School, at Penge, and two
deaths are reported from this disease.
In Wells Road, Sydenham, a death from severe typhoid fever has occurred; this
district I have already called your attention to.
The old watercourse through Lewisham, in my opinion, requires cleansing and filling
in or arching over, as nothing remains now but a stagnant ditch of decomposing miasmatic
matter, which must be injurious to the inhabitants.
The mortality of the district has been heavy this month, more especially from diseases
affecting the respiratory organs.
In Blackheath 5 births and 12 deaths are registered.
In Lewisham 22 births and 25 deaths; 13 of the deaths having occurred in the workhouses.
In Penge 8 births and 5 deaths are registered; 3 of these have occurred in the Anerley
Industrial School.
In Sydenham 21 births and 10 deaths have been registered.
Appended are meteorological tables for the month.
1 have the honour to remain, Gentlemen,
Your most obedient servant,
Medical Officer of Health.
Lewisham.—The total want of drainage and bad state of some cottages in Hanover
Street, Lewisham, require immediate attention.
The yards and gardens in this part abutting on Mr. Robinson's premises are in a
dreadful state. This arises from want of communication with the common sewer and no
outfall whatever; every impurity from houses and privies is floating; and this will be
found prevalent more or less throughout this neighbourhood.
I have also to call your attention to the bad state, from offensive drains, privies, &c.,
of Waterloo Place, Rushey Green; Miss Elizabeth Price's buildings; Mr. Price's
buildings; the yard of a cowkeeper, opposite the toll gate; 14 cottages situated in
Cleveland Square, at the back of the "White Hart;" and an offensive ditch at the
top of Hither Green Lane.
Penge.—Some banks by the side of the road leading from the Anerley Railway
Station to Oakfield Road are extremely dangerous, from the absence of fencing or
hoarding of whatsoever kind.
Sydenham.—The overflow drainage, from Round Hill Terrace to the houses in South
Road, runs along by the side of the road in an open ditch and is very offensive; this
requires covering in, and a gully hole in the valley requires trapping.
The state of the open ditches in Perry Vale and Perry Rise demand immediate
attention; they are most offensive.
One ditch, opposite the "Forester Inn" and several adjacent houses, receives the
drainage of 16 houses, as well as a yard where 20 cows, 3 or 4 horses, and 20 to 25 pigs
(throwing out a most offensive smell) are kept.
This evil is now increased by other persons (who have received notices to drain)
conducting their sewage into the same ditch; this is most offensive and dangerous, and
is only one of several ditches running down as far as Meadow Croft, which contribute
their pestilential smell to the atmosphere on a calm day.
The state of the privies opposite the lower Sydenham chapel require your orders for
their improvement; a water closet adjoining the footpath is overflowing.