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

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Lewisham 1884

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Limehouse]

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Regulations as to Bakehouses (Continued).
The opening into a Bakehouse of a drain carrying off focal or
sewage matter;
is punishable by a fine not exceeding Forty Shillings, and a further fine not
exceeding Five Shillings for every day during which the infringement is
continued after a conviction,
April, 1884. Clerk.
The Bakehouses are now regularly inspected three times a year.
The Animal Charcoal Works in New Gravel Lane, Shadwell,
were frequently the subject of complaint on the part of persons
residing in the locality. The works have been established some
years, but for a considerable time no charcoal had been made there,
the operations consisting almost entirely in re-burning charcoal that
had been used in the purification and decolorization of sugar. A
few months back, however, the Company resolved to char bones on
their premises, and with this view, retorts, similar to those in use in
gas works were put up, and the operations which then ensued
resembled those of such works with tho substitution of bones for
coal. The charring of bones gives rise, however, to much more
offensive products than the charring of coal, and as soon as the
process was started the whole neighbourhood became unpleasantly
aware of the fact.
The process earned on at these works is as follows:—The bones
to be charred are placed in heated retorts which are then closed and
luted ; the products evolved are permanently gaseous, mixed with
condensable vapours—the first are used on the premises and the
second which are highly charged with Ammonia arc converted into
Sulphate of Ammonia. The greatest care is required in dealing with
these products to prevent offensive smells arising. The resulting
bone charcoal is raked out of the retorts and cooled, a procedure
accompanied by the evolution of steam and Sulphuretted Hydrogen.
Up to the present time I cannot congratulate the Company on the
success of their endeavours to mitigate the nuisance caused by their
In July, a Committee of the Metropolitan Board inspected the
insanitary area in Shadwell, referred to in my last Annual Report, as
having been the subject of a Representation to that body, under the
Artisans and Labourers Dwellings Acts, 1875. On July 21st the
Committee drew up a Report to the effect that the area was not a