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

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City of London 1927

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for London, City of ]

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Defective Connections to Sewer.—During the year, 11 reports were received from the City
Engineer respecting the condition of connections between the drains of certain City houses
and the public sewer.
Investigations showed that it was necessary to reconstruct all of the connections referred
to. Of these, nine have been completed and the remainder are, at the time of writing this
Report, in process of reconstruction. As a result of the inspection of the internal drainage
system of these premises, reconstruction or alteration was found necessary in nine instances.
In the majority of cases these external drains were brick-barrel drains, in which rats
had their breeding-places, and were, undoubtedly, a source of much annoyance to the
occupiers of the houses to which they were connected.
The powers conferred by the London County Council (General Powers) Act, 1927,
enabling local authorities in London to take the steps necessary to reduce the number of
pigeons infesting the metropolis have been exercised by the City Corporation so far as the
City is concerned, and although it was only possible to commence operations a few days
before the close of the year, a definite reduction in the number of birds has been effected.
The scheme adopted, of which the following are the main principles, has as its basis
the engagement of an expert trapper, who undertakes for an agreed sum to destroy a given
number of birds:—
1. That the pigeons be trapped in the early hours of the morning, when there is little
likelihood of interruption by pedestrians and others.
2. That the pigeons be removed alive in pigeon baskets to a suitable centre.
3. That all ringed birds be separated and returned to the National Homing Union.
4. That the remainder be killed at the centre in the customary way in which pigeons
are killed, under the supervision of an officer of the Corporation.
5. That the carcases be at the disposal of the contractor or burned by the Corporation.
The clause relating to the return of ringed birds was included, to meet the very natural
anxiety of the National Homing Union that private and perhaps valuable pigeons should
not be destroyed in the general round-up. An undertaking was also given when the Bill
was before the House of Commons that the birds would not be shot at or maimed. Thus
the method of catching was for practical purposes reduced to netting or trapping with such
appliances as would not inflict injury on the birds. I am pleased to report that no allegations
of cruelty have been received.
A very careful control will be maintained over the trapping, and action modified from
time to time as circumstances indicate, as it is not intended that the City shall be entirely
cleared of pigeons, but rather that a proper balance between hygienic necessity and aesthetic
beauty be preserved.
As in past years, attention has been given to the possibility of the spreading of infection
by flies during the summer months. Leaflets were distributed throughout the City calling
attention to the danger created by the fly and making special reference to the precautionary
measures which should be taken to minimise such dangers.
Your officers, where opportunity offered, made a special point of directing attention
of householders to the necessity for the strict observance of cleanliness, frequent removal
of dust and other refuse, and particularly of foodstuffs, especially milk.
Following a practice adopted for the first time last year, the service of the several Ward
Beadles were utilized in directing attention to this subject. They were all furnished with
a supply of leaflets, and I wish to acknowledge the assistance they rendered, which by reason
of their intimate knowledge of their districts was of considerable value.

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