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

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Bethnal Green 1866

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Bethnal Green, Parish of St. Matthew ]

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Wood Street14........1
Wray Terrace410......2
York Street8........1

The greatest mortality, it will be seen, occurred in Hare Street and
St. John Street (which lies immediately at the back of Hare Street),
where, within a little more than a fortnight, 31 persons died. This
excessive mortality created quite a panic among the residents; fortunately,
one of the Dispensaries being close at hand (Winchester Street), patients
received the most prompt attention. This, with the active measures taken
by the Sanitary staff, together with the influence and kindness shewn by
the Clergy in these extreme cases, at length succeeded in staying the
ravages of the disease, and allaying the fears of the people.
I am unable to give any special reason why these streets should have
been visited thus severely, for although they were somewhat over-crowded,
they were not more so than other parts of the District. The drainage was
good, the houses were in decent repair, and the inmates not of the poorest
The next greatest number of deaths occurred in the Old Bethnal Green
Road and Cranbrook Street—10 persons having died in each. The remarks
made with reference to Hare Street and St. John Street, apply to the Old
Bethnal Green Road; and as regards Cranbrook Street the houses arc well
drained, not over-crowded, and have been recently built on a sandy soil
nearly 40 ft. above high water level, and the inhabitantsare of a wellto-do
artizan class.
In Princes Court, where 9 deaths occurred, the houses were well
drained, and had been cleansed about twelve months before the outbreak.
They were occupied by the poorest classes, whose habits caused the houses
to be in a very dirty state. The water receptacles were foul and totally
inadequate in size. Since then, however, we have had the whole court
cleansed and placed in a satisfactory condition.