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

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Shoreditch 1864

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Shoreditch, Parish of St. Leonard]

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In October last, several inhabitants of Shaftesbury-street, living
near the drill ground and head quarters of the Rifle Volunteers, complained
that from eight to ten barrels of gunpowder were stored in a
vault under the foot-pavement in Sliaftesbury-street, they were alarmed
at having so much explosive matter so near their dwellings, and complained
for the purpose of trying to have it removed; on visiting the
place, sixteen barrels were found on the premises, but it is proper to
state, that the contents of these barrels was not all powder, but charges
of powder and ball, made up in packages and placed in the barrels for
safety. But a vault under the pavement of a public street, can not be
considered a safe place to be used as a powder magazine, being exposed
to accidents from without as well as from within. I reported the matter
to the "Lighting and Paving Committee," and at their suggestion the
authorities of the Volunteers were communicated with, and the powder
removed to a place of greater safety.
A complaint was made in one case, that the dead body of a woman
was kept eleven days before being buried; and in another case, complaint
was made that the body of a man, who had died of fever, was brought
from the country to the house of his parents, there to be kept until the
day of interment, the parents lived in a court containing eight small
houses of only two rooms each, and as their was a family of six or seven
living in the house, the neighbours were alarmed lest some of them
might catch the fever and it should spread among the inhabitants of the
court. Such cases as these, show the necessity and importance of providing
a mortuary or dead house, where bodies might be kept in safety
between the time of death and the day of interment; it requires no
argument to prove that it is dangerous to the living to retain a body that
has died from infectious disease in a house of two rooms where there
are a family of six or seven living and sleeping. Should it require an
Act of the Legislature to accomplish this object, it ought to be obtained
as a security to the public health. One of the railway arches would be
a suitable place for this purpose, being away from dwelling houses, and
might easily be made available at small expense.
1 have made the usual stated periodical inspection of the licensed


Total Deaths and Total Births in Sub-Districts during the Year 1864.

SUB-DISTRICTS.Population 1861DEATHS.TotalsProportion of deaths to birthsTotalsBIRTHS.
*ST. LEONARDS1918827022449476657325332
tHOXTON NEW TOWN26516464444908851058529529
HOXTON OLD TOWN25777312344656631027514513
§HAGGERSTONE WEST,..,2326039330678980982482500
HAGGERSTONE EAST , ,1731026021647659805433372