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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Commencing at the lower part of the river Ravensbourne, the first impurity will be
found at Mr. Arnold's Silk Mills, from house and other drainage; this should be inspected.
At the entrance gates of this Mill there is a junction between the main sewer and a
drain from Ravensbourne Terrace exists, the opening of which is so small that it chokes
up, and the drainage rising flows afterwards through Mr. Arnold's premises, to the
injury of the stream and to the great annoyance of the factory people.
At the Bridge, near the Railway Station, a drain will be found discharging from the
station and adjoining houses.
Sheppard's Placc; a drain will be found discharging from the houses of Messrs.
Phillips and Sidery directly into the river.
Price's Row, west side of Ravensbourne, just below Lewisham Bridge; Mr. Price,
6 houses, Mr. Perry, 3 houses, drain into the stream; these are very bad. Pigs, sometimes
in great numbers, are kept and slaughtered at Mr. Price's.
Above Lewisham Bridge, near Mr. Robinson's Mill, Mr. Fox 10 houses, North
Cottages; Mr. Whitcombe 2, Mr. Sweetlove 2, Mr. Harvey 9, Sophia Place; Mr.
Marshall 1, Mr. Fearnley 10, Esplanade Cottages; these drain in the most open and
offensive manner into the stream.
Near Lee Bridge, Mr. Owen, butcher, and Mr. Bush, drain into the Quaggy or Lee
river, and near here 22 houses in Lewisham Grove discharge all conceivable nuisances.
Avenue Road, Mr. Smith 2 houses, Mr Knott 4 houses, drain into the Ravensbourne.


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.
Mar. 29.29.90851 026 037 7E.0.00
April 5.29.77696 824 446 4S. E.20.09
12.29.27251 337 047 1S. W.60.57
19.29.85665 032 046 0N. E.20.17

Sydenham, 24th April, 1856.
The returns of the Inspectors of Nuisances have been before you for the last four
weeks, and relate to several matters which require your orders for their removal, and
I now specify some further points which should receive your early attention.
The question has been put to me, as to whether animals kept in populous localities
are nuisances and injurious to health.
I am decidedly of opinion that a closely inhabited neighbourhood is a most unfit
place for animals to be kept in, and that in such a locality no animal can be "so kept"
as to avoid becoming a nuisance, and in many states of the atmosphere injurious to
health ; if every inhabitant householder were allowed the right of keeping pigs, cows,
&c., a town would be intolerable. Further, the health of animals requires an abundance
of space and a large supply of fresh air, which can only be got in country places.
I shall call your attention further to this matter, after examining the cow-houses
slaughter-houses, &c., of the District.
I have appended some further information respecting the drainage into the Ravensbourne.
Viewing this river as a source of water supply to 120,000 persons, it requires
some effort to prevent the evil results of contamination, which come strongly before
the notice of your Board, which alone has the power to prevent it. Some of the