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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2 Annual Report of the London County Council, 1912.
it is interesting to observe that a comparison of the recently published life table for Salford for the period
1901-10, with the corresponding table for 1891-00, shows similar improvement, the increase in the
expectation of life at birth being 6.97 years for males and 7.85 years for females.
In the administrative section of the report it is to be noticed that the numbers of licensed
cowhouses, slaughter-houses and offensive trades continue to diminis. The annual reports of medical
officers of health of the several boroughs contain little reference to serious nuisance and complaints of
smoke nuisances appear to be less frequent. A large amount of inspection has been carried out under
the Housing, Town Planning Act, 1909, and regulations under this Act dealing with underground rooms
have been made by some ten authorities. As regards overcrowding it may be noted that according to
the census returns there has been a slight increase of 0.04 per cent, in the percentage of the total
population living in overcrowded tenements of one to four rooms. It should, however, be pointed out
that the standard adopted by the Census Office is perforce an arbitrary one, and is based on the assumption
that tenements are overcrowded where they contain an average of more than two persons to a
room. This does not correspond with the statutory definition of overcrowding based on a
measurement of cubic space per head. Indeed, during the last intercensal period there has undoubtedly
been considerable improvement as regards the conditions of occupation of tenemented dwellings.
Moreover, from the information supplied by medical officers of health, from 3,000 to 4,000 overcrowded
dwelling rooms are dealt with annually, and although there may be relapse in some cases, the tendency
has certainly been to a reduction in the absolute number.
Common lodging-houses again show a reduction in numbers and in authorised accommodation,
although as far as can be judged from the various censuses undertaken by the Council, the number
of inmates varies but little. The accommodation, however, has always been in excess of the use by
some thousands of beds. Seamen's lodging-houses show but little variation. A considerable amount
of work is now being done in London in connection withthe Cleansing of Persons Act, 1897, and the
sections of the Council's General Powers Acts dealing with cleansing. Details are given of the number
of cleansings, both of the person and of rooms. (See pages 71-2). On the night of the 9th February,
1912, the seventh enumeration of homeless persons was undertaken by authority of the Public Health
Committee. As is pointed out on page 79, the numbers obtained were some 1,500 less than in 1910,
when the figures reached a maximum; the full text of the report is included in chapter XXXIIa.
Some notes on sanitary officers in London are contained on page 79, and the eleventh return which has
been prepared on this subject was published during the year under review, and is reproduced in
chapter XXXIIa.
The population of the Administrative County of London estimated to the middle of the year
1912 was 4,519,754. On 2nd April, 1911, the date of the last census, the enumerated population was
4,521,685, comprising 2,126,341 males and 2,395,344 females in 1,033,861 families. The difference to
be observed in the proportions of the sexes is not peculiar to London, for throughout England and
Wales the preponderance of females has, on the whole, steadily increased. Indeed, in all the principal
European States there is an excess of females over males, although, with the exception of Norway, in
relatively smaller proportions than in England and Wales. The ratio per 1,000 of females to males
in England and Wales was 1,068, while in London it was 1,127. Residential counties in which large
numbers of domestic Servants are employed and to which the unoccupied classes (preponderantly
female) resort for residence, such as Sussex, Surrey, Middlesex and the Isle of Wight, ranged from 1,130
to 1,256 females per 1,000 males, whilst in the mining counties such as Monmouthshire, the proportion
of females to males was as low as 908 to 1,000.

The census populations of London boroughs in 1901 and 1911 and the mid-year populations in 1912, as estimated by the Registrar-General, are shown in the following table:—

Metropolitan borough.Census Population 1st April, 1901.Census Population 3rd April, 1911.Estimated Population (middle of year 1912).Metropolitan borough.Census Population 1st April, 1901.Census Population 3rd April, 1911.Estimated Population (middle of year 1912).
Kensington176,628172,317171,746Bethnal Green129,680128,183137,985
Westminster, City of183,011160,261157,248Bermondsey130,760125,903125,260
St. Marylebone133,301118,160116,155Lambeth301,895298,058297,550
St. Pancras235,317218,387216,145Wandsworth231,922311,360321,881
Stoke Newington51,24750,65950,581Deptford110,398109,496109,377
London, City of26,92319,65718,695London4,536,2674,521,6854,519,754