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

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Paddington 1872

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Paddington]

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and perfect cleanliness by the prevention and removal of
nuisances in and about private dwellings, the existence of
private slaughter-houses in built-up parts of cities, even with
strict inspection, renders this object difficult and practically
impossible for those persons who reside near them.
"Butchers perfectly well know this fact, and endeavour to
purchase adjoining property to let out to a class of tenants
who dare not complain, but tolerate a nuisance rather than
run a risk of having notice to quit a cheap-rented dwelling
which others are willing to occupy.
"The most serious nuisance is in hot weather, when the
polluted air attracts large numbers of blue-bottle flies, which
after feeding on putrifactive refuse lay their eggs upon the
meat on the tables and in the larders of adjoining houses.
"These flies are also the carriers of infection.
"Slaughter-houses are always infested by rats, burrowing
from the drains, seeking for blood which in large quantities
runs into them, while the putrifying action gives rise to an
abominable stench, often extending for miles along the sewers.
"The blood and offal, if transported in barrels and carts,
has to pass through the public thoroughfares.
"There are also other evils affecting the meat. The
pounding of cattle in small close pens for days together is
objectionable. Butchers are aware that the flesh of animals
driven hurriedly through the streets, and kept sweating in
close confinement, is not so good as when taken from an airy
and well-ventilated cattle-pen of an abattoir, or from the
open fields.
"Cattle slaughtered in private slaughter-houses affords
facility for the slaughtering of unhealthy animals. It is estimated
that 100 tons of diseased meat are annually condemned
in London, and a large amount is offered for sale from want
of a proper inspection in a public abattoir.
"The question of abolishing slaughter-houses and of erecting
public abattoirs, under supervision, has been settled with
satisfaction on the Continent, and the system imported into
this country has been found to work well in Edinburgh,
Glasgow, Leeds, Cardiff and many other places, whilst the
change has not been proved detrimental to the poor either by