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St George (Southwark) 1858

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Southwark, The Vestry of the Parish of St. George the Martyr]

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Report of the Medical Officer of Health, for the first Quarter, 1858.
The amount of sanitary work is exhibited in the last Table, and very much arrears are shown.
It is becoming daily more and more evident that the work ordered is more often than otherwise done in a
slovenly manner, so that in the "long run," expense is increased, and much unnecessary vexation both to
your officers and to the parties concerned produced. Work is being done, and yet not to any effectual
purpose: I cannot help thinking that a trustworthy workman, under a responsible officer, is required to
make a daily visit (and if necessary to remain.) and make daily record of every work and the manner of
its performance from the time it is ordered until it is finished. We are of course very slow in emptying
cesspools, only eight have been abolished during the quarter; very properly so, when the sewers are themselves
ces-pools in continual motion for eight hours, and stagnant, or being stirred up, during sixteen hours,
in every day. I must, however, take this opportunity of stating that the embankment of the Thames is,
so far as health is concerned, in my opinion, the solution of the great problem of metropolitan drainage.
Of course in the south low level, a lift would have to be established, as proposed by the surveyor of
Camberwell; and this is a work that cannot be commenced too soon. I am most happy to see that a
Royal Commission has reported for the Thames Embankment. Many cases, about 31, have been
decided upon by the Magistrate; in some, where the work is considerable and expensive, as in the case
of the bone boilers, ample lime is given; but it is understood that the work ordered must be done to the
satisfaction of your officers. Two cases, very urgent ones, after much trouble fell through, from the
deaths of the owners and the need therefore of new proceedings: one was dismissed, inasmuch as the
man's premises were, in the opinion of the magistrate, suffering instead of causing a nuisance, from the
want of a public urinal near at hand. A friendly notice has been given to amend the ventilation of the
Southwark Police Court, which is at times too offensive to be either pleasant or safe. Notice has been
given by the inspector to the police of many dangerous structures; the police are prompt and render us
a most valuable service; without doubt serious accidents must occur in these very old perishing houses,
if such precautions are not taken. I have received notice from a sanitary committee at the Board of
Health to use if possible an amended form of returns instead of the heading of this seventh Table.
I think as the Board of Health desires uniformity of returns, books require to be provided in which
we might regularly record them, like the books of the Poor Law Board or the broad sheets of the
Registrar General; it is exceedingly difficult to make returns without, and unless the books are sent
from one place, I fear there will be no uniform plan. I have taken the liberty of forwarding to each
gentleman of this vestry four or five specimens of tracts published by the Manchester Sanitary
Association; very valuable they are; my object in this, is, if you approve of them, to be allowed to
purchase more, to be given here and there among the people we visit, haply to inform and produce a
good impression. I believe it is your wish that the aggregate of these quarterly reports shall constitute
the annual report; I will therefore, with that view, append Tables with remarks, and which will require
to be printed with this report—these Tables to be in harmony with the Registrar General's reports will be
for the 53 weeks ending January 2nd, 1858.

TABLE 1.— Quarterly Mortality.

185618571858Average Mortality of the Quarters from 1845 to 1854
First Quarter, to March 31304323333373.6
Second „292296...294.8
Third „350279...431.1 or 383.1 excluding Cholera.