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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Vale, are offensive, and the drains frequently overflow. I think that no proper
drainage exists to these houses, although there is a barrel drain near at hand.
The privies at the back of Mr. Jones, bricklayer, require emptying and cleansing.
An open ditch at the back of the Dolphin Inn, Lower Sydenham, is most dangerous
and offensive. This ditch runs from the back of the Wells Road, is then arched over
for a small part of its course; is then again open and very offensive as it runs through
a piece of land belonging to the Leather-sellers' Company, and close to the High Road;
it continues its course at the base of Peak Hill, through the land at the back of the
Greyhound Inn, thence under the railway, thence through Mr. Price's and Miss
Mayow's grounds, to the back of the Dolphin Inn, whence it becomes covered in, in
its course to Bell Green.
This ditch receives a vast amount of drainage, and is most offensive and dangerous.
Some time back several of the holders of property through which this ditch passes
were desirous of contributing a portion of the expense which would be necessary for
covering it in.
The drainage in Willow Road, and Scudder's Row, is in an extremely bad state, and
is much complained of. I called the attention of the Board to this nuisance in my first
The road is well-nigh impassable from filth in bad weather.
A drain was put in by the Commissioners of Sewers through a part of this road
some years ago.
A drain running by Sydenham Hill is also very offensive and requires carrying into
the main.


Week ending.Weight of air. Barometer corrected. Mean inches.Temperature of Air. Thermometer.Prevailing winds.Rainy days.Amount of rain in inches.
Highest.Lowest.Mean of daily readings.
April 26.29.77573 030 648 5E.10.27
May 3.29.56453 531 041 3N. W.30.75
10.29.79568 329 844 3N.20.33
17.29.49372 042 951 2S. W.61.24
24.29.56470 041 053 1s. w.51.08

Sydenham, May 29th, 1856.
The mortality of the District has somewhat diminished, since my last report; two
deaths only having been registered in Penge, and these not regular inhabitants of the
place; three deaths only being registered in the Blackheath Ward.
But no positive conclusion can be drawn from this as to the present state of health
of the District, as a form of low fever is prevalent in several of the bad parts of the
District, to which I have called your attention in my reports; and many of which
localities, I would again urgently press upon your notice, as contained in the half-years'
alphabetical summary appended.
I have also to mention—
The drains from Westwood House, at the top of Jews' Walk, Sydenham, which are at
times very offensive and injurious to the health of the opposite inhabitants; the cesspool
in the grounds has been recently emptied and cleansed, but this can only be of
very temporary benefit.
An open filthy ditch exists by the side of the Vicars' School, Loat's Pits, detrimental
to the health of the children and others.
Pigs, kept by Mr. Jones, Lewisham, are complained of by the neighbours, and are
doubtless a great nuisance to the inhabitants.