London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Hanover Square 1866

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Hanover Square, The Vestry of the Parish of Saint George]

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bread-making is found too hard to be worked by hand-labour, and
is given up by most bakors. One firm has set up a small steam
Visitation of Slaughter-houses.
A short time before the Petty Sessions appointed for granting
licenses to cow-sheds and slaughter-houses, we make a systematic
visitation of each, in company with the Inspector. With regard
to the slaughter-houses, we see that they are clean, well paved
with good firm stones bedded in cement, so that no blood shall
soak through the joints; there must be a good water supply, sinks
well tapped, and proper receptacles for the blood and garbage ;
and it is understood that the latter shall be removed in closed
receptacles daily between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.
At the last Petty Sessions in October there were applications
for licenses of 33 premises, of which one was refused, but subsequently
granted by the Justices at the Quarter Sessions, to
which appeal was made. This case is noticed at page 13.
The custom of having slaughter-houses in towns is clearly
dying out of itself. There are now only 33 licensed, whereas
there were 43 in 1858 and 39 in 1859. Of the 33, four have been
given up since the licensing day, either because the licensee has
given up business, or because the premises have been absorbed by
railways. Of the others, five are virtually disused, although the
owner keeps the license, in order to avail himself of it in case of
In a former Report (No. v.) we entered into some few particulars
as to the principles of scientific butchery. We showed
that the transporting live beasts by railway, and then driving
them through the streets of a town was a process intrinsically
wasteful; inasmuch as the value of the flesh was diminished, and
the carrying the offal out of town was an additional source of
expense. But the practical reason assigned by the butchers for
keeping up the custom is the difficulty of ensuring that meat
killed at a distance shall reach the consumer fresh; hence, that
it avoids a still greater waste. This difficulty might be overcome
by a careful scientific attention to the killing, the handling, the
cooling, and the packing; and as some of the best butchers kill
no meat of their own, we must suppose that the difficulty of
getting good country-killed meat must be decreasing year by
It is not, however, for us to be made the instruments of any
unfair or harsh construction of the law in order to put down
town slaughter-houses We find that the experience of many individual
butchers, who clamoured strongly for them at first, now
shows that they can be dispensed with. Still the law permits
them. The owners are industrious, cleanly, and respectable ratepayers,
who allege that they secure better meat, and better
looking meat, and that they are able to supply meat more
cheaply to their customers when they kill it at home, than when
they buy it in the dead meat-market. Clearly, then, if the use
of slaughter-houses is lawful, and (in the opinion of persona who

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