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

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Stepney 1914

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Stepney]

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When the war broke out, very little work was being done by out-workers during
the first week in August, but this is not unusual after a Bank Holiday. Towards
the end of August, persons employed on khaki clothing, soldiers' caps and shirts
became exceedingly busy. All kinds of workshops were converted into premises
for the manufacture of clothing for soldiers.
The list of outworkers is supplied twice a year, during the first week in August
and February.
The August lists had been returned before the outworkers became busy, and
for that reason the lists were very incomplete.
About this time the Scarlet Fever epidemic started, and great care was exercised
in preventing the distribution of military clothing that had been exposed to infection.
Several cases occurred in outworkers' premises, but the clothes were all
disinfected before they were returned to the contractors.
New factories and workshops for the manufacture of khaki clothing were started,
and other workshops were converted for the purpose of making the necessary clothing
for the army. Premises engaged in making underclothing, ladies mantles and
costumes as well as ordinary tailoring workshops were immediately adapted for the
purpose. In one instance, a walking-stick manufacturer suddenly gave up his
trade, and a week afterwards, was employing a dozen people in making khaki clothing.
In another case, a refreshment contractor for weddings, gave up his ordinary business,
and converted his premises into a khaki clothing factory.
In addition to this, a large trade was done in the district and a large number
of men were employed in the manufacture of military kitbags, caps, packing and
ammunition cases, tents and tarpauling, timber for huts, haversacks, nosebags,
horse pegs, saddlery and other leather accoutrements, cartridge belts, brushes for
sweeping the trenches, brass caps for searchlights, beds, bed clothing, &c., as well
as life-buoys and kapok floats for mine-sweeping.
Knapsacks and haversacks were also manufactured for the French Government,
about 70 persons being employed.
The result has been a great demand for workshops, work has been plentiful,
and unemployment has been conspicuous by its absence. In fact, it is almost an
exception to find a factory or workshop that is not working directly or indirectly
for the War Office or Admiralty.
General Sanitary Work.
In the Sanitary Inspectors' Report table will be found the record of the work
carried out by each Inspector during the year, together with its nature.
45,298 houses were inspected, 4,420 being the result of house to house
13,206 intimation notices were served for the abatement of various nuisances
as well as 6,665 statutory notices.

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