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

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London County Council 1896

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for London County Council]

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london County Country.
Report of the Medical Officer of Health, presenting Dr. Young's report on the
sanitary condition and administration of the District of Holborn.
(Ordered by the Public Health Committee to be printed, 29th October, 1896.)
I present Dr. Young's report on the sanitary condition and administration of Holborn. This
report shows that the condition of houses and the character of the population in Holborn are such as
to require an active administration. The existing staff is evidently inadequate for the purpose, and the
Holborn District Board of Works should at once adopt the recommendations contained in the report as
to an increase in the number of officers and should proceed more largely to regulate houses let in
lodgings. The subject of dust collection in Holborn has already been considered by the Committee;
Dr. Young's inspection affords confirmatory evidence of the need for the adoption of means for securing
the more frequent collection of dust. The attention of the District Board should be given to the areas
specially indicated by Dr. Young; the area of which Union buildings and terrace are the centre, is now
under the consideration of the Council's Housing of the Working Classes Committee. The District
Board should be urged to provide without delay a suitable shelter for the accommodation of poor
persons during the disinfection of their rooms.
Shirley F. Murphy,
Medical Officer of Health.
Dr. Young's Report.
The sanitary district of Holborn consists of the united parishes of St. Andrew Holborn, and St.
George-the-Martyr,the parish of St. Sepulchre, the Liberty of Saffron-hill, Hatton-garden, Ely's-rents and
Ely-place, and the greater part of the Liberty of Glasshouse-yard. It is situated in the central part of the
metropolis, and has adjoining it the following districts, namely, on the west St. Giles, on the north St.
Pancras and Clerkenwell and the Liberty of the Charterhouse, and on the south St. Giles, the Strand
and the City. At the eastern end the district becomes much reduced in size, forming a narrow and
irregularly shaped area which is for a short extent of boundary in juxtaposition with the district of St.
Luke. Within the limits of the district Gray's-inn is situated, while Lincoln's-inn, Staple-inn and
Furnival's-inn form small areas on the southern boundary of the district. These, for sanitary administrative
purposes, are not under the jurisdiction of the Holborn Board of Works.
The soil is made up of gravel overlying the London clay, the latter coming to the surface in a
narrow strip running north and south in the neighbourhood of Farringdon-road.
The area of the district is 168 acres.
The greater part, of the sanitary district of Holborn is included within the registration district
of Holborn, but the Liberty of Glasshouse-yard, which forms the eastern extremity of the district,
forms part of the registration district of London City.
The number of persons per acre in Holborn in 1891 was 199, as compared with 56 per acre in
London generally. When the census was taken in 1896, the average number per acre was 185.
The population of the district at the 1891 census was found to be 33,485. This number
compared with the two previous census returns, shows that the number of residents has been
decreasing. There has also been a decrease in the number of inhabited houses. Similar changes
are noticeable in the case of other centrally situated districts, and there is little doubt that the decrease
is largely due to the increased use of premises for business and commercial purposes and to the removal
of residents from the district. There are at the present time in the district many streets containing
houses which were apparently at one time private residences, but which are now used as offices,
while in other parts houses and courts, which existed when the Ordnance survey was made about
thirty years ago, have disappeared, and been replaced by warehouses and factories. The census taken
in March, 1896, for the purpose of the Equalisation of Rates Act shows that decrease in the
population is still taking place, the population at this date being 31,208.

The following figures show the changes which have been taking place—

Inhabited bouses.Population.
St. Andrew, Holborn, with St. George-the-Martyr2,8312,4232,57333,49328,87426,228
St. Sepulchre3132781902,8882,3921,972
Liberty of Saffron-hill, Hatton-garden, Ely's-rents, Ely-place5274536055,9073,9804,506
Liberty of Glasshouse-yard14993691,232931779
Whole district3,8203,2473,43743,52036,17733,485

* Dr. Bond, the medical officer of health of Holbnro, points out in his report for 1895, that the census figures include the whole
population of Glasshouse-yard, although a part of this liberty, containing 71 inhabitants at the 1891 census, is under the jurisdiction of
the Commissioners of Sewers, the population of Glasshouse-yard belonging to Holborn therefore shonld be 708.