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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Sydenham.—Orchard Place, although close to the Bell Green Sewer, remains in an
undrained state. This is not a healthy part of the District, therefore it more urgently
requires attention.
Many complaints have reached me as to the state of a cow house, in the occupation
of Mr. Duffin, wherein a number of pigs, cows, horses, &c., are kept without sufficient
supply of air and drainage. The grains also used as food remain and decompose, and
when moved are very offensive. This is closely surrounded by dwelling houses.
The privy at the back of Mr. Jones's, bricklayer, near the "Dolphin Inn," is cot at
present attended to. This was reported some months ago.
The houses in a Court-yard opposite the " Dolphin Inn" have also been reported and
still remain in the same state.
The house occupied by Mr. Moore, grocer, at the basement has the water up to the
floor boards constantly from want of drainage.
Two cottages, situate at the corner of Taylor's Lane, "Well's Road (and owned by
Mr. Cross, of Camberwell Green), are in a dirty state. The privies are dilapidated, the
pans obstructed and filthy; an offensive ditch also at the corner. Fever is now existing
in the house occupied by Mr. Barwell. I find that the water has been cut off in consequence
of the previous tenant not having paid the water-rate. The inhabitants have
to beg what water they can get for drinking purposes, and the house has been cleaned
with the sewage water which I some months ago pointed out as about to run from the
houses above. The closets at the adjoining cottages are out of repair and require
The yards and privies to the houses occupied respectively by Messrs. Dobbs and
Blunden, Wells Road, are in a most filthy state. Mr. Blunden keeps pigs in a most
dirty state.
I have the honor to remain, Gentlemen,
Yours respectfully,


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.
Sept. 27.29.24165 540 052 9S. W.171.43
Oct. 4.29.43966 047 050 1S. W.50.54
11.29.88361 849 054 3Variable.50.80
18.29.93764 045 050 5Variable.20.36
25.30.20866 236 551 2Variable.0.00

Sydenham, October 30th, 1857.
The returns of mortality for the present month, ending November 23rd, exhibit a
favourable change, the total number of deaths registered in the district being 23;
whereas last month 34 deaths were registered. Of these one person had attained the
age of 92 years, two had attained the age of 86 years, and three were above 70 years
of age. One death from typhus, occurred in Silver Street, Lewisham, and one also in
the Avenue Road. One death from diarrhoea (infant) in Osborne Cottages, and one
death from diarrhoea (infant) at Southend. A death from fever occurred at Penge, and
is attributed to the offensive effluvia arising from the drainage running from the Crystal
Palace, &c.
Two deaths occurred from pulmonary consumption, and two ditto from other diseases
of the lungs. Five deaths are attributed to natural decay.
A few mild cases of measles have occurred in parts of the district; but diseases of the
zymotic class are not at all prevalent.