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

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St James's 1860

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for St James's, Westminster]

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Census for 1861, I hope to obtain more minute
information than I have hitherto possessed of the
population of the streets and courts of the various
districts, as well as the occupations of the inhabitants,
and to be able to point out the relation of
particular diseases to locality and employment. I
would, however, remind you that in my periodical
reports I have called your attention to the very
wretched character of many of the dwelling houses
of the poor in some of the thickly-populated districts
of the Parish. In all cases that have come before
me, I have directed the closing of kitchens and
cellars, as lodging houses of the poor; and although
this has been done to a very considerable extent,
I believe that it will be found that this has had
little effect in diminishing the overcrowded condition
of a large number of the dwellings of the
poor. It seems to me very desirable that some
systematic effort should be made to erect for the
poor, in the place of the miserable dwellings they
occupy, lodging houses that would secure for them,
at the same amount of rent they now pay, the
comforts and decencies of civilised existence. The
experiment has been made in the Ingestre Buildings,
the Model Lodging Houses, and the Healthy
Homes ; and from the success which has attended
these efforts, I would urge a still further development
of this class of dwellings for the poor. The
disease and mortality is much less in these lodgings
than in those occupied by the same class of persons
in other parts of the Parish. There are many sites