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

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Rotherhithe 1857

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Rotherhithe]

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28
There is no sewer near the houses, and I must leave to the better
judgment of the Surveyor how the difficulty is to be dealt with.
At Nos. 7 and 8, Adam's-gardens, the back yards form a square
of which the side is about seven feet; one-third of this small space
is occupied by the privy and water-butt. The yards are literally
covered with Liquid sewage, which filters through a wall into the
garden of No. 86, Adam-street. According to the representations
of the inmates of No. 7, the water in the butts always tastes of
drainage, and the house No. 7, also, often smells from the leakage
of a small pipe which passes under the flooring to carry off the
refuse water and slops from the two houses into the drain in
front.
At Nos. 2 and 3, George-street, there is every facility for drainage,
but the closets and drains have not yet been connected with
the new sewer. At Luck's-tenements, the privies are near the houses,
and without proper drainage.
An analysis by Dr. R. D. Thompson of the waters which were
furnished by the eight London Water Companies, during November
and December, 1857, was published in the weekly return of the
Registrar-general of January 9th, in the present year. The following
remarks are made:- "Such analyses supply the best tests of the
quality of the water with which the people of London are supplied.
It will be observed that the waters are much less impure than they
were formerly, but that there are still great differences and still room
for further improvement."

I shall only speak here of the Southwark and Kent Water Companies, the former supplying the western, and the latter, the eastern division of this Parish.

NOVEMBER.DECEMBER.
PER GALLON.PHI GALLON.
Total Impurity.Organic Impurity.Total Impurity.Organic Impurity.
SOUTHWARK.gr. 21.56.gr. 1.48.gr. 20.80..56.
KENT.gr. 30.16.gr. 4.40.gr. 26.36.2.65.
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Distilled water is taken as the standard of purity. But distilled
water containing neither air, nor salts of any kind, is flat and insipid.
N ow, if by impurity is meant certain salts of lime and soda, which
are found in very small quantity in all stream waters, I must say
that it is questionable whether without them the water would be
so potable as at present. Even the naturally distilled waters, which


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