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

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Lewisham 1858

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Lewisham]

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Union Workhouse.--2-2
N. S. Industrial School---1-1

The Registrar's return of mortality during the past month indicates a favourable state
of the public health as regards the rate of death.
Seventeen males and 8 females have died between the 25th September and 23rd
October, whereas 34 and 29 were registered in the years 1856 and 1857 respectively.
Ten deaths have, however, taken place from epidemic disease, viz.:—
Diptheria, Mount Nod Place, Blackheath.
Ditto, Dartmouth House, Blackheath.
Measles, Loampit Yale, Lewisham.
Scarlatina, Stratford Place, Lewisham.
Ditto, Vicar's Hill, Lewisham.
Ditto, Dartmouth Cottages, Lewisham.
Dysentery, King Street, Lewisham.
Typhoid fever, Avenue Road, Lewisham.
Diarrhoea, West Kent Park, Sydenham.
Fever, North Surrey School, Penge.
I wish to call your attention to the fact that the deaths from these diseases are quite
out of proportion to the deaths from all causes in the district, and this indicates to my
mind the necessity for carrying out the drainage of houses, as well as necessary main
drainage, and promoting the cleanliness and, comfort of the poorer inhabitants by an
adequate supply of water, as it is well proved in this district that diseases of the abovementioned
kind may be occasioned and fostered by local contamination, even in an
otherwise salubrious locality, such as that in which we live. This proves what has
been previously well known in other less favoured places, that neglect of sanitary
regulations cannot be permitted with impunity. The evident connection between
zymotic disease and an impure atmosphere is not without its lesson. Scarlatina is somewhat
prevalent in Lewisham.
I have been called upon during the month again to examine the state of Sandwell
Place ; some of the houses here are in a most offensive state from want of drainage, and
I have no doubt that the soil is extensively saturated from percolation of sewage under
the houses. This I pronounce to be very dangerous to health, and I think that it
demands some attention.
The block of houses in Hither Green Lane (Retreat) are also still insufficiently drained.
Church Terrace and adjoining houses are also insufficiently drained, and contaminate
the river.
The undrained state of the court by the Crooked Billet, Penge, I have to notice,
as my attention has been again called to it from a case of erysipelas, and another of
scarlet fever, occurring in one family living in this place. I wish more particularly to
direct your attention to this, as it is, I think, important that a drain should be made
from the sewer now constructing, to receive the sewage of this and adjoining houses,
draining into the ditch adjacent.
The drainage of the houses now erecting at the back of the Forest Hill Chapel is not
yet completed satisfactorily, as it is taken eventually from a 12 inch into a 6 inch pipe
in the old ditch, which must, when the houses are inhabited, be insufficient.
An open ditch at the back of some houses in Russell Street requires covering in for a
few yards, as it is an offensive nuisance.