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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In Old Castle Street, where 8 deaths occurred, the above remarks apply,
with the exception that the houses had not been cleansed for a much
longer period.
In Myring Place there were 6 deaths; these, following in quick succession,
caused the greatest alarm. The Sanitary conditions here were
the same as in Princes Court, with the exception that the water supply
was constant. The whole of the houses were immediately cleared,
thoroughly cleansed, and disinfected throughout before re-occupation.
The greatest mortality in any one house was at No. 1, Butler's Buildings,
where 5 deaths occurred. This house is situate on the confines of tho
Parish, adjoining Spitalflelds; it is very old, and crowded with inmates
of the poorest class. The house was dirty throughout, closet and drainago
accommodation defective, and the water supply scanty. As the lease had
nearly expired, we could get but little done by the landlord. In fact,
upon proceedings being taken, he chose rather to surrender the lease than
to put this and the adjoining houses into suitable repair. The whole
buildings have since changed hands, with every prospect of their being
kept in a more satisfactory condition.
A case, exemplifying the good effects of energetic measures and promptitude
of action, occurred at 13, Tyrrel Street, Turin Street, where G out
of a family of 9 persons were stricken in one night. I had the remaining
3 sent out of the house, and they were not attacked. The father, mother,
and 4 children were sent to the Cholera Hospital before noon the following
day. The mother was the only one who came out alive. The house
was immediately closed, and every article of wearing apparel and bedding
destroyed ; and it was then thoroughly cleansed and disinfected before it
was allowed to be inhabited again, and I am happy to say not another
case occurred in the street.
The Committee for carrying out the provisions of the Order of Council,
with its indefatigable chairman, J. H. Edwards, Esq., ably supported by
the Vestry Clerk, K. Yoss, Esq., sat daily from July 26th until September
8th; then twice a week until October 6th, at which date its functions
were delegated to the Sanitary Committee. The sittings of the Committee
usually occupied from two to three hours, during which they heard all
applicants ; gave orders for restitution of bedding, &c., destroyed ; received
reports, medical and sanitary; and directed summonses to bo issued
in cases where notices for the disinfection and cleansing of houses had
been neglected, &e. In fact, gave their best consideration to everything