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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During the month ending 25th August, there were registered in the Lewisham district 22 deaths, viz.:—

Ditto Workhouse . . .129
St. George's Infant Poorhouse1

This return exhibits a more favourable state of the public health than that indicated
in my last report.
Two deaths from infantile diarrhoea have taken place; one in West Kent Park, and one
in Stanstead Lane, both at present offensive localities, but in process of improvement.
One death from fever in Loat's Pits, Blackheath; one ditto from hooping cough and
measles in the St. George's Infant Poor House.
Diarrhoea still continues very prevalent, but is generally not of a very alarming
character, and in case of any sudden attack bottles of medicine are provided for public
use at all the police stations.
Fifty-six children were seized with this disease (diarrhoea), attended with severe
vomiting, in the Anerley Industrial School, Penge, on the night of Saturday, the 16th
instant, for which I can find no positive cause beyond the rapid change of temperature
which took place upon the day previous; the thermometer having ranged from 104
in the sun to 48 degrees at night.
Hooping cough, scarlatina, and measles, are again making their appearance, especially
in Penge, which is at present an undrained locality, but no fatal case has occurred with
the exception of the one mentioned in St. George's Infant Poor House.
Cowhouses.—As the health of the population of any district, in my opinion, materially
depends upon the quality of the milk supplied, especially as the main support of children
is from this source; and as the quality of the milk much depends upon the manner in
which cows are kept, as to food and water, air, exercise, and amount of space, ventilation,
and cleanliness of cowhouses, I have instituted an examination of the cowhouses in the
district, and, with the assistance of the Inspector of Nuisances, hope shortly to lay before
you an account of these matters, as well as whether, from want of drainage, or attention
in removing deposit, any complaints are made by the surrounding householders.
Blackheath.—The locality Loat's Pits continues in a very unhealthy state from dirty
decomposing deposit and rubbish. A slaughter-house here is also in a very offensive
Although several sewers have been made here, the house drainage is not at present
opened into them, and I have to solicit your order that this shall be attended to at once.
The state of Belmont Terrace and Sandwell Place urgently requires that a sewer should
be constructed to carry off the sewage of these houses into the main.
Fever has been from time to time very prevalent here, and all the wells are contaminated
with sewage from leaky cesspools, and the water is totally unfit for use.
Lewisham.—Some of the houses and closets in the neighbourhood of Home's Dale,
Cross Street, Poplar Row, and Hanover Street, are in a dirty state, and require water
supply to make the drainage efficient.
The same may be said of "Willow Walk, Rushey Green, Waterloo Place, and Patrol
Place, which further require much attention for their sanitary welfare.
One or two pigstyes exist in this locality, which from the confined space must be productive
of nuisance.
The state of the Quaggy, near the Railway, as well as in other places, must be very
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