16 AUGUST 1851, Page 20

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In consequence of the appearance in Church Lane, St. Giles's, of an unusual form of disease—intermittent fever or ague, Mr. Grainger was directed by the Board of Health to inspect that and certain other local- ities. His report, published some little time back, gives a shocking de scription of the condition of the places he visited, where neglect, filth, and disease luxuriate in perennial rankness. During the cholera visita- tion, some efforts at improvement were made, and a few good results have been permanent ; but generally the places have returned to their original evil condition to the full extent, offering a reception for any future visita- tion of pestilence as favourable as that given at the last. To those un- acquainted with the foul spots of the Metropolis, as most persons neces- sarily are, the revelations are as astounding as they are sickening. This is " Agar Town," in St. Pancras. "This district has the aspect of one of the most neglected parts of the Me- tropolis : from the appearance of the roads, it might indeed be supposed that one was suddenly transported to the poorest locality of some decayed country town. In many places the roads are in deep ruts, filled in the winter with mud and filth ; in various directions are large heaps of dry mud, which have evidently been long accumulated ; here and there were deposits of manure, either lying by the side of the road or within the small enclosures belong- ing to the cottages, all adding to the contamination of the atmosphere and general discomfort. During the winter months, and after continued wet weather, these roads must be in a most deplorable state of filth, constituting a serious nuisance to the inhabitants : one respectable woman whom I ques- tioned, said, Oh ! it is nothing new but in the winter it is awful.' In Win- chester Terrace, there is a serious nuisance demanding immediate rectifica- tion • it consists of a long, open, stagnant ditch, lying by the side of the wall which bounds the station of the Great Northern Railway. Into this ditch the drains of the opposite houses empty themselves, and as these carry off the overflow from the cesspools, at least in those instances into which I inquired, the most offensive effluvia are given off."

The nauseous effects of this ditch upon the inhabitants was much com- plained of by those questioned by Mr. Grainger. He mentions as a proof of how ill-directed the efforts of ignorant individuals may be in remedy- ing any evil, that a woman being anxious to decrease the stench on her own premises, had taken advantage of a better supply of water to use a quantity of it so that she unwittingly increased the nuisance to herself and her neighbours. In this locality, a new training and industrial school has been erected, and within the preceding two months a monstrous lay- stall had been founded near the school and beneath the very walls of the workhouse !

In Church Lane, and adjoining parts of St. Giles's, there is scarcely any appreciable improvement. This is the state of one of its courts.

" At the top of a narrow alley in Church Lane I saw an old hole full of ex- crement, and sickening to the smell. In this alley are four small dark huts, or single rooms, black with filth, crowded with children and adults. In one of these hovels, in which I could not stand upright,. was a poor woman cower- ing over a few embers in the cold stage of ague' a girl with fever, and, stand- ing at the door, a man who was attacked with typhus last January, had been three months ill in the workhouse, and although discharged, was still ill and offing, and his eyesight so much affected from the fever, that he cannot go up any scaffolding, and consequently is unable to get work."

Some houses have no water supplied to them ; and the inhabitants have to buy it, or to obtain it from publicans, who require liquors to be purchased as a quid pro quo. Jacob's Island, at Bermondsey, remains almost as in former times. The great tidal mill-stream still alternately circulates its dirty waters and leaves its muddy banks exposed to view, covered with all manner of abominable matters proceeding from the houses that overhang it. From this " stream " many of the poor people obtain the water they drink : a landlord once told them that the water was " good enough for them."

" The Potteries," at Kensington, show no improvement in the sanitary state since 1849, except a little better supply of water. One nuisance is " the Ocean," on whose banks a National School is erected.

"Standing by the side of the National School, I found the stench arising from 'the Ocean' most oppressive; the water is saturated with putrid or- ganic matter, proceeding partly from the numerous pig-sties which empty their contents into the pond, and partly from the many dead animals which are thrown into it. I counted the bodies of twelve pigs, and the school- master informed me he had seen twenty dead animals at one time in the Ocean.' This person stated, that owing to the foul effluvia they could not open the school-room windows which face the water, when the wind blew from that direction."

In Jennings's Buildings, Kensington, some of the necessary accommo- dations are in such a state, that they are properly described as " a dis- grace to any civilized community." To give the detail in so many words, could not be done without creating nausea. In this place, in a short time, thirty deaths resulted from cholera. Efforts were then made to purify the buildings in some measure, and the disease abated. Tindal's Buildings, Gray's Inn Lane, and adjacent courts and alleys, were much ravaged by the cholera. Typhus fever constantly rages there. Within two months, recently, twenty cases occurred in one house. In 1849, there were fifteen to twenty cases of cholera in another house. Tindal's Buildings have been outwardly improved ; within, matters are as bad as ever : the houses are poisoned by effluvia arising from the lower part ; the water is so exposed that it absorbs noxious gases ; the removal of dust and refuse is systematically neglected. With respect to the prevalence of ague in St. Giles's, Mr. Grainger found that the cases occur in the worst class of houses ; they are close to- gether ; " a net could be thrown over the whole affected locality." The disease arises on the spot, not from importation. In Sydenham's time agues were common and fatal in London ; improved drainage caused them generally to disappear; from cases which now occur, and others which have happened at former times under peculiar circumstances, a general inference is drawn that when ague appears in London it arises in badly-drained and damp localities, and is obviated by the removal of these causes.

After narrating the evils which the very poor suffer from the nature of the lodgings usually occupied by them, Mr. Grainger gives the result of his inquiries respecting the health, comfort, and general wellbeing of those who inhabit model lodginghouses. Some interesting facts may be culled. In the two model lodginghouses in the immediate vicinity of Church Lane, not a single case of ague or typhus had occurred among 343 occupants. In four lodginghouses, with a population of 1082, the deaths have been about 1 per cent in the year : the average mortality of England is more than 2 per cent. In the Old Pancras Road buildings, for three years, the average mortality was above 2 per cent : complaints were made of some defect in the water-closets ; this was remedied ; and the health of the inmates improved. Low fever abounds in the poorer localities of London. How different in the model buildings !

" From the evidence I have received, it appears that in six out of seven of these model establishments, including the lodginghouses for single men, and containing about 957 persons, there has not been a single case of typhus since they were opened ; whilst in the Metropolitan Buildings, which has been opened upwards of three years, and has an average population of about -550, there has been but one death from low fever; so that out of a total of 1.507 persons, one case only of typhus has occurred since these in- stitutions were provided specially to test the value of sanitary arrange- ments."

Had low fever prevailed in these houses in the same proportion that it does among the poor of Liverpool, no fewer than 60 cases would have occurred yearly.

The evidence of persons living in the lodginghouses shows how much these establishments are appreciated by the occupants, and the great im- provement in regard to health and comfort which they have experienced. The superintendents of the buildings speak well of the conduct of the lodgers ; and the rules for cleanliness and propriety of behaviour are strict. The testimony of those best acquainted with the condition and the wants of the poor is unanimous, that they cannot be raised in the social, scale while they vegetate in places such as Mr. Grainger has described.