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

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City of London 1936

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

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The City Engineer has given special attention to this matter for several years past, and
his action in replacing the old pattern gullies with those of a more up-to-date design will,
I hope, eventually lead to a complete abatement of the evil.
Sanitary Defects and Infectious Diseases.—In cases of notification of infectious disease,
the premises involved were inspected with regard to the drainage system, water supply,
ventilation, etc.; and of the 41 cases investigated in 1935, defects were found in two instances.
Legal Proceedings.—During the year, 51 notices have been issued by the Sanitary
Committee, and in no case was it found necessary, in consequence of non-compliance therewith,
to refer the matter to the City Solicitor.
The condition of the approaches to Billingsgate Market and the Custom House, as
heretofore, required special attention. There has always been a difficulty in keeping the
thoroughfares in the immediate vicinity of these places free from nuisance caused by the
drippings from the fish carts, especially during hot weather.
Limewashing of Courts.—There are 60 courts and narrow passages situated in various
parts of the City, the walls of which, unless cleansed frequently, become dirty and unsightly
through the constant traffic of passengers or vehicles, together with the action of the smokeladen
atmosphere. These are cleansed or limewashed twice a year under the direction of
the City Engineer. Of the places so dealt with during 1936, 19 were situated in the East
District, 24 in the Middle District, and 17 in the West District.
Defective Connections to Sewer.—During the year, 12 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 nine of the connections
referred to. As a result of the inspection of the internal drainage system of these premises,
reconstruction or alteration was found necessary in four instances.
The following observations are included in this Report by the courtesy of Mr. W. J.
Heavey, the Director of Public Cleansing :—
Collection and Disposal of Refuse.
House and trade refuse is collected by 10 a.m. from receptacles placed on the kerb in streets
scheduled by the Ministry of Transport, and after 10 a.m. from the interior of premises in other streets.
Special arrangements are made for the collection of large quantities of trade refuse in scheduled streets.
The contents of street orderly bins and market refuse are collected at any time during the day or night.
All refuse is conveyed by horse-drawn vans or motor waggons to Lett's Wharf. It is there shot
into the contractors' barges ; house, trade and market refuse being taken down the river to Hornchurch,
where it is deposited on land belonging to the Corporation. Manure and contents of street orderly
bins are separately barged where required by the contractors.
At Hornchurch, the refuse is disposed of under the system of controlled tipping, as recommended
by the Ministry of Health—i.e., the crude refuse is sealed off from the air by layers of earth excavated
from the maiden ground of the tip and from other sources.
Fires at the tip occur but seldom, and, as a precaution, iron water pipes are laid across the top
of the tip, with joints at intervals to allow for the fixing of fire hose.
No rats have been seen at the tip for several years, and this result may reasonably be attributed
to the system of controlled tipping. Arrangements have been made for dealing with these vermin
should their presence be suspected at any time.
During the year ended 31st December, 1936, the tonnage of refuse collected was as follows :—
House, trade and market refuse 43,462
Street and gully refuse 14,749
Total tons 58,211
Seventy-four per cent. of the refuse was collected by horse vans and 26 per cent. by motor waggons.
It is estimated that the above total tonnage is equal to over 200,000 cubic yards.
Cleansing of Streets, Courts and Gullies.
The major part of the work of street cleansing is done during the night, when the whole of the
City is cleansed either by motor brooms, motor water waggons or jet and hose.
The condition of the centres of the carriageways in main thoroughfares during dry weather,
except in market areas, is clean enough to render a nightly washing of the whole surface unnecessary,
and such carriageways are therefore completely washed once a week only. On the other five nights
of the week the channels are washed. In wet weather, however, the whole of the carriageways are
washed every night if necessary.

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