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© Boardworks Ltd of 21 © Boardworks Ltd 2007 Britain 1750– of 21 Public Health Icons key: For more detailed instructions, see the Getting Started presentation Teacher’s notes included in the Notes Page Accompanying worksheet Flash activity. These activities are not editable. Web addresses Sound
© Boardworks Ltd of 21 Learning objectives © Boardworks Ltd of 21 What impact did the Industrial Revolution have on housing standards? How did poor housing affect public health? Which diseases did people die of? What measures were taken to improve public health?
© Boardworks Ltd of 21 As the Industrial Revolution gathered pace, housing was needed for more and more workers. Some landlords seized the opportunity to exploit this situation. They made their profits by cramming as many poorly-built houses into as small a space as possible. The new urban working class was badly paid and could not afford decent housing. Whole families often lived in just one room. Such cramped, squalid living conditions proved the perfect breeding ground for disease. Why was public health such a problem?
© Boardworks Ltd of 21 Slum housing The hastily-built slums of the new industrial towns lacked even the most basic facilities. There was no toilet, no running water – sometimes not even windows or a fireplace! Rooms were cold, badly ventilated and running with damp. Landlords were often so negligent about making repairs that whole buildings collapsed. Worst of all were the cellar and attic dwellings in which the poorest families lived. Cellar rooms flooded in bad weather and might be an inch or so deep in stagnant water the whole year round. Attic rooms were cramped and stuffy, with no way of escaping if the building caught fire. What health problems do you think you would have if you lived in conditions like these?
© Boardworks Ltd of 21 Slum housing
© Boardworks Ltd of 21 Many of the houses built in the time of the Industrial Revolution had no sewerage system. Instead, each court or street shared a communal privy. The waste from the privy was tipped into a cesspit – and many landlords would not pay for the cesspits to be emptied until they were overflowing. This meant that human waste could filter through into the water supply that people drank from. The problems of adequate sanitation
© Boardworks Ltd of 21 I found the whole court [12 houses] inundated with fluid filth which had oozed through the walls from two adjoining cesspools, and which had no means to escape, the court being below the level of the street, and having no drain. From a report by Dr Duncan, Liverpool, Look at the evidence
© Boardworks Ltd of 21 Ordinary houses had no water supply. Instead, people took their water from communal standpipes like this one. A single standpipe often served several streets. This meant that if one standpipe was contaminated with disease (or with the waste from the cesspits), many people would fall ill and die. The problems with the water supply
© Boardworks Ltd of 21 They are built back-to-back without ventilation or drainage. Double rows have a water pump at one end and a privy at the other. These are used by about 20 houses. Evidence given to the House of Lords, Look at the evidence
© Boardworks Ltd of 21 Today it is the responsibility of local authorities to arrange for rubbish to be collected and recycled, but in the 19 th century there was no such system. Rubbish was simply thrown into the streets – and there it stayed. This encouraged vermin, and they in turn helped to spread disease through the overcrowded and filthy towns and cities. Rubbish Anyone unlucky enough to have to walk the city streets would find themselves wading ankle- deep in a mixture of mud, horse dung, human waste and rubbish. The rich almost always travelled by coach or carriage.
© Boardworks Ltd of 21 How did disease spread?
© Boardworks Ltd of 21 Killer Diseases Cholera Typhoid Tuberculosis Influenza Pneumonia How often do these diseases kill in the UK today? Common diseases Diphtheria Find out all you can about one of these diseases.
© Boardworks Ltd of 21 Rich and poor alike were put at risk by the awful conditions of the Victorian labouring classes. It took an epidemic of a new and terrifying disease to bring this fact home. So who died? The answer, overwhelmingly, was the poor. Malnourished, overworked, badly clothed and living in terrible conditions, they had little resistance to the regular epidemics that swept through large industrial towns. But once disease took hold in the poorer quarters of a city, it quickly spread to the houses of the rich. Disease might spread from servant to master. It might pass from person to person through contaminated food. And, most alarmingly of all, it might spread through the water supply. Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, died of typhoid, a waterborne disease. The great leveller
© Boardworks Ltd of 21 In 1832, cholera was brought to Britain by soldiers returning from India. It spread in the water supply, killing more than six thousand people in London alone. King Cholera Think about the symptoms of cholera… then think about what you know of 19 th century sanitation and water supplies. Why do you think cholera spread so quickly? Cholera killed in a matter of hours. Victims developed stomach pains and vomiting, followed by severe diarrhoea. A cholera patient could lose a litre of fluid every hour. The muscles cramped; the voice grew hoarse; the skin sagged, and the face became pinched, hollow and grey. Confusion and convulsions was followed by death from shock and dehydration.
© Boardworks Ltd of 21 The cost of cholera A dying child receives the last rites. Cholera returned to London three more times – once in 1849 when over 14,000 people died; again in 1853, killing 10,000 people; and finally in 1866, when 5,500 died.
© Boardworks Ltd of 21 Who was to blame? Many cholera victims came from poorer areas – but the middle classes and the wealthy lost their lives as well. Some blamed the poor for spreading the disease; others thought the government was to blame. The middle classes increasingly began to push for better conditions for the poor. My mother and my sister died in the cholera outbreak. I cannot help but blame the poor. They breed disease by living in such filth. You should blame the government, the factory owners and the landlords for allowing such terrible conditions to flourish. Spare some pity for your fellow-men, who live and die like animals.
© Boardworks Ltd of 21 Edwin Chadwick and Charles Booth are both famous for publicizing the awful conditions in 19 th century towns and cities. Chadwick’s 1842 report on The Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Classes shocked the Victorian public. For many, this was the first insight they had had into the lives of those less fortunate than themselves. Chadwick recommended better quality housing, good sewage systems and fresh water. But all this came at a price – and that price would have to be met by the ratepayers (men of property who were the only ones eligible to vote). Opposition from the ratepayers delayed government action for six years. Pressure for change
© Boardworks Ltd of 21 A Public Health Act based on Chadwick’s recommendations was finally passed in It was not compulsory, however, and only a few local authorities took action. Why do you think councils took action only after an outbreak of disease? Further legislation was passed in 1872 and 1875, and then local authorities had to clean up their towns. In many cases, however, it was not until an epidemic of disease occurred that councils took action. The Public Health Acts
© Boardworks Ltd of 21 In 1889, 46 years after Chadwick’s report, a wealthy businessman called Charles Booth published his findings on living conditions in the East End of London. The yard behind is barely large enough for a dustbin, closet and water tap, all serving 6 or 7 families. The water comes from a cistern that is always full of rubbish, sometimes a dead cat. Charles Booth, 1889 Like Chadwick, he reported overcrowding, vermin, damp and unventilated housing and contaminated water supplies. The Public Health Acts
© Boardworks Ltd of 21 Look at what Booth found, nearly half a century after Chadwick’s report. How effective had: a) Chadwick’s report been? b) the Public Health Acts been? Remember, a good historian will try to show both the good and bad points of view in the answer before making a judgement. Questions
© Boardworks Ltd of 21 Public health quiz
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