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

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Shoreditch 1879

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

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an order was made upon the owner, requiring the ground
under the floor to be opened up, which resulted in the discovery
of a large, old, and partially disused sewer at a depth of
about 18 below the floor. In this sewer there was a deposit
of semi-solid sewage 1-ft. 10-in. deep. This sewer extended
from the back of the houses on the other side of Custance
Street, and in the opposite direction, behind the houses in
Plumber's Place, to its junction with the sewer in Provost
Street. Its condition throughout was most defective and caused
a large number of premises to be largely infested with rats.
This being reported to the Vestry, a Special Committee, with
power to act was appointed, under whose direction the whole
of the sewage deposit was removed, the sewer broken up, and
filled with lime rubbish, and new drains provided by the
owners of the houses which had drained into the old sewer.
The house, No. 5, had a bed of concrete spread over its
entire area, and a ventilated space provided under the floor.
It was also thoroughly cleansed and repaired throughout,
water closet cleansed and repaired, water laid on; and water
for drinking purposes provided direct from the main.
HOUSES UNFIT FOR HABITATION.—The two roomed houses,
Nos. 1 to 10, Norman's Buildings, Haggerstone, are old,
damp, and very dilapidated premises. They were closed in
accordance with the Vestry's order.
The six-roomed houses, Nos. 5, 7 & 9, Hewett Street,
were found in the following state:—The drains (admitted to
be defective) blocked and flooding the yards with sewage;
the water closets overflowing, and the brickwork dangerously
dilapidated. The yards were not paved, there were no dust
bins, the roofs leaked badly, the walls, ceilings, floors, stairs,
and all internal fittings were very dilapidated. They were
closed in accordance with the Vestry's order
The four-roomed houses, Nos. 1 to 6, Hoxton Market,
may be described in the same terms as the houses in Hewett