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

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London County Council 1912

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

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Annual Report of the London County Council, 1912.
On the 4th April. 1912, formal representation was made by Dr. G. P. Bate of the area known
as the Brady-street area, including 528 houses occupied by 3,058 persons. At the end of the year the
question of an improvement scheme was still under the consideration of the Bethnal Green borough
council and the London County Council.
A petition signed by 57 persons was received by the Lambeth Borough Council during 1912
describing all the houses in Waxwell-terrace as being wholly insanitary and uninhabitable. It was found
on inspection that the houses themselves were in fair condition, but were let out in tenements to persons
of unsatisfactory habits. Several of the houses were afterwards reconstructed and re-arranged and
let to a better class of tenant. The remaining houses were not in such a condition as to warrant closing
orders, and no further action was taken.

Underground Rooms.

The number of underground rooms dealt with in 1912 in the several metropolitan boroughs is shown in the following table:—

Metropolitan borough.No. of rooms illegally occupied.No. of rooms closed or illegal occupation discontinued.Metropolitan borough.No. of rooms illegally occupied.No. of rooms closed or illegal occupation discontinued.
Bethnal GreenSt. Marylebone199199
CamberwellSt. Pancras435*
FulhamStoke Newington77
Hackney1414Westminster, City of3838

Under Section 17 (7) of the Housing and Town Planning Act, 1909, a room habitually used as a
sleeping place, the surface of the floor of which is more than three feet below the surface of the. part of
the street adjoining or nearest to the room, is deemed to be unfit for human habitation, if it is not on
an average at least seven feet in height from floor to ceiling, or does not comply with regulations which
the local authority with the consent of the Local Government Board may prescribe. So far as is
shown in the annual reports of medical officers of health, regulations made by ten authorities have
been approved by the Local Government Board, these authorities being the metropolitan borough
councils of Battersea, Fulham, Hampstead, Lambeth, Poplar, St. Marylebone, St. Pancras, Stoke
Newington, Wandsworth and Woolwich. In the case of Kensington draft regulations were, at the end
of the year, awaiting the approval of the Board. In the report relating to Holborn, Dr. Bond, the
medical officer of health, states that he prepared regulations in accordance with the provisions of the
Act, and after careful consideration by the Committee, the matter was adjourned for the present.
The eighth volume of the Report on the Census of 1911, deals with tenements, the classification
of the people by the size of the family of which they are members and the number of rooms in the
occupation of the family. In previous censuses similar inquiry was made as regards families occupying
less than five rooms, but it was felt that the absence of any definition of the word room, must have
led to some amount of understatement, more especially as in cases where the question remained
unanswered, it had to be assumed that the tenement consisted of more than four rooms. In the census
schedules of 1911 therefore, every occupier was for the first time required to state the number of rooms
in the occupation of his family, and an attempt was made to define a room by adding to the schedule
an instruction reading "Count the kitchen as a room, but do not count scullery, landing, lobby, closet,
bath-room, nor warehouse, office, shop."
In tabulating the returns, only private families have been included. It is stated in the report,
however, that this limitation can have but little effect on the comparability of the figures, as it is
extremely unlikely that many of the excluded tenements occupied by " non-private " families consisted
of less than five rooms.
* Time allowed to tenants to find room elsewhere.