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

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Hackney 1882

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Hackney]

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into houses in this district is the defective manner in whioh
connections have been made between the traps and the drains. It
was a by no means uncommon practice for some builders,
where a pipe did not quite reach as far as the trap, to connect
the pipe and trap with brick work, which the rats displaced, and
then got into the houses. In several instances rats have worked
under a garden wall, and then under the foundation of the
adjoining house into the pantry, and thus afforded a passage
for sewer gas from one house to another. Rats have also made
their way into houses from the sewer, outside the pipe, in
consequence of the eye having been badly put in. I may
also mention as an instance of very bad drainage a large
house, where all the junctions were at right angles to the
main pipes, the pipe from the sink had not been picked up;
the waste pipes from the cistern and a wash basin came into an
unventilated soil pipe, and were not trapped ; the cesspool had
not been emptied when the drain pipes were laid down, and the
bend of the outlet was irregular. Considerable difficulty was
experienced in having every fault remedied, as the workmen
covered the pipes over without doing the work properly, and
it was only by having them stripped again, and relaid, that the
drainage was carried out efficiently. One of the Inspectors
visited the premises more than a dozen times, and I accompanied
him on two occasions.
The means of drainage and water supply of the houses
have been carefully examined in every house where infectious
diseases appeared during the year, and all the defects found
have been remedied. In almost every instance where diphtheria
or typhoid fever occurred, the drainage or water supply
arrangements were more or less defective, consisting chiefly of
the presence of bell traps instead of efficient traps, and of
direct communications between the sinks or the rain-water
pipes and the house drains. In abating these nuisances the
rain-water pipes are not invariably cut off from the house
drains, but only in those instances where the hopper heads
are near the windows.

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