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

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Rotherhithe 1859

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Rotherhithe]

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That the said Deptford-road Sewer, from the peculiar construction of its outlet,
can only discharge its contents into the said Earl Sewer for two hours in every twelve,
under the most favourable circumstances.
That not only the sewage of your Memorialists' said Parish, but also the sewage of
part of the neighbouring Parish of Bermondsey, recently turned in the said Deptfordroad
Sewer, is pent-up and retained in the sewers in the said Parish for nearly twenty
hours daily, and sometimes for a longer period.
That on ordinary occasions the said Deptford-road Sewer, and also the branch
sewers, are filled with sewage matter, and the foul air pent-up therein is forced into
the streets and houses, and on the occurrence of storms, when large quantities of rain
fall in a short time, the said Deptford-road Sewer is not only prevented from
disharging its contents, but the water in the Earl Sewer rises above the outlet of the
flap of the said Deptford-road Sewer, and backs up the latter, and overflows into the
cellars and basement floors of the houses along its course, and also on to the low
garden-grounds in this Parish, and most serious injury is inflicted on the inhabitants
in consequence.
That your Memorialists fear most serious and fatal evils are likely to arise from
the large volumes of foul gases that are constantly driven up through airshafts into the
public streets, and through the private drains into the houses, in consequence of the
overcharged state of the Deptford-road Sewer, which gases are the most deleterious
of all gases, and calculated greatly to effect the health of the inhabitants of this
That your Memorialists beg to call the attention of your Board to the Report
made by your engineer, bearing date the 3rd of April, 1856, which states, that the
sewers in this locality are necessarily so low that they can only discharge their contents
into the River, for about four hours each tide. The sewers being closed at their
outlets for the remaining eight hours, become reservoirs of stagnant sewage
for sixteen hours in every day, and unavoidably accumulate deposit, and that
to maintain a continual and unremitting flow in the sewers of this low district, and to
drain the cellars and subsoil effectually, so as to make them dry and healthy, demands
the aid of pumping.
That the condition of this Parish has frequently been brought under the notice or
your Board by your Memorialists, and on the 1st January, 1858, your Honourable
Board resolved, after elaborate investigation, to erect a pumping station at the outlet
of the Earl Sewer, for the purpose of relieving the Sewers in the District.
That the said pumping station has not been erected, whilst on the other hand, a
vast inciease of sewage matter has been driven into these Sewers.
Your Memorialists, therefore, urge upon your Board, that they are in justice
entitled to have, without delay, the temporary benefit and relief
suggested by your Egineer, in April, 1856, and resolved to be carried
out in January, 1858: and beg that your Honourable Board will either

The accounts of Messrs. Charles Erwin and William Jonathan Smith, the Churchwardens, for the year 1859-60, have been audited, and the following is a copy of the Charities' Account:—

To Cash received from Stratford Estate701410
„ „ „ Plaistow Estate2506
„ „ „ Smith's Charity3876
„ „ „ Ambrose Bennett's Gift900
„ „ „ Hill and Bell's Charity600
„ „ „ Coat and Cloak Charity .600
„ „ „ Mrs. Embelton's Gift5010
Balance due to the Churchwardens23123
By Balance paid to late Churchwardens-2071
„ Cash paid for Bread14080
Hill and Bell's Charity, Treasurer of Charity School300
Mrs. Embelton's Gift5010
Coat and Cloak Charity600
Ambrose Bennett's Gift, distributed in Coals, &c.900