Hints from the Health Department. Leaflet from the archive of the Society of Medical Officers of Health. Credit: Wellcome Collection, London
[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for London County Council]
During 1896 the Council's inspectors made 4,631 inspections of premises upon which offensive
trades (including that of a " slaughterer of cattle ") were carried on. In 11 instances legal proceedings
were instituted, and in 7 of these, penalties, amounting in the aggregate to £16 6s., were imposed.
The number of applications during the year for renewal of existing licences to slaughterhouse
premises was 478, of which 470 were granted. In the case of knacker's yards 5 licences were
renewed; 6 licences were granted in 1895, but, in respect of one of these, no application was made in
During the year 7 offensive businesses which had been discontinued for a period of nine months
or upwards were struck off the register. These businesses included those of 1 bone-boiler, 1
manure-manufacturer, 3 fat-melters and 2 tripe-boilers.
The number of applications for the licence of slaughterhouses and the number of slaughterhouses licensed is diminishing each year, as will be seen from the following table*—
|Tear.||Number of applications received.||Number of licences granted.|
Complaints to the London County Council.
During the year the Council received 1,141 applications for assistance in securing the removal
of conditions which it was alleged were dangerous to health. The sanitary authorities were
communicated with, and the complainants were informed where they should apply for remedy. The
Council's inspector made 1,490 inspections in connection with these complaints, and the subject of
complaint was kept under observation with a view to ensuring that a remedy was provided.
Marine stores.—The Public Health Committee of the Council had under consideration an
application from the vestry of Kensington that the Council should make an order, declaring the
business of a rag and bone dealer to be an offensive business within the meaning of Section 19 of the
Public Health (London) Act, 1891. The Committee thus reported to the Council on the 16th
We have had under consideration a letter from the Vestry of Kensington, asking the Council to
make an order declaring the business of a rag and bone dealer to be an offensive trade within the meaning
of section 19 of the Public Health (London) Act, 1891. The vestry state that their attention has been
directed to offensive smells emanating from certain premises in the parish in the occupation of a rag and
bone dealer, and they refer to the case of Passey v. Oxford Local Board (43 J.P., 622).
In 1883 the Vestry of Kensington made representations to the Metropolitan Board of Works in
favour of the business of a marine store dealer being declared to be an offensive trade under the provisions
of the Slaughterhouses (Metropolis) Act, 1874 (now superseded by the Public Health Act of 1891) but the
Metropolitan Board did not see their way to do this. Since that application was made, the Council's
by-laws regulating the conditions under which offensive matter can be removed through the streets
have come into operation, and hence sanitary authorities can now deal with that part of the vestry's
complaint of 1883.
The question which remains is whether regulations are required with respect to the deposit and
retention of animal matter in the premises of marine store dealers.
With regard to the question of nuisance from the particular premises referred to by the vestry, we
thought it well to ascertain whether any attempt had been made by the vestry to deal with such premises
under section 21 of the Act of 1891, which provides a remedy in cases of offensive effluvia from trade
processes. We are informed by the vestry that nuisance notices have from time to time been served
under section 4 of the Act, but that in each case the notices have been complied with, and we understood
no steps have been taken under section 21.
We are advised that, as a strict question of law, the Council can, if the Local Government Board
confirm its order, declare the business of a marine store dealer (if carefully defined), or of a rag and bone
merchant, to be an offensive business within section 19. We think, however, that the Council would
hesitate to make, and the Local Government Board would hesitate to confirm, an order affecting the
several hundreds of these businesses which there are, we understand, at the present time in London, and
entailing the making of by-laws and arranging a system of inspection, without considerably more
evidence than there seems to be at present that an evil exists in London which cannot be effectually dealt
with without such an order and that such an order, is therefore necessary in the interests of the public
health. We recommend—
That the Vestry of Kensington be informed that the Council feels that the facts at present
within its knowledge would not justify it in making the order asked for.
The medical officer of health of Kensington in reporting to the vestry on this decision of the
Council, points out that for the purpose of proceeding under section 21 of the Public Health (London)
Act, " in each case the nuisance would have to be proved ; whereas, if the conduct of the business were
regulated by by-laws it would only be necessary to prove breach of the by-laws in order to secure the
infliction of a fine, &c., and this power to prevent nuisance from a trade which is undoubtedly a
frequent cause of nuisance would be materially increased." With reference to the administration of
by-laws he adds that if the Council would obtain an order and make by-laws, " the several sanitary
authorities could do the work of inspection." The medical officer of health of St. Giles expresses the
*These figures include applications dealt with in the intervals between the annual licensing meetings iu
October of each year.