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Lecture 11 Medicine, Disease and Society in Britain, 1750 - 1950.

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Presentation on theme: "Lecture 11 Medicine, Disease and Society in Britain, 1750 - 1950."— Presentation transcript:

1 Lecture 11 Medicine, Disease and Society in Britain, 1750 - 1950

2 1. Effect of industrialisation on health 2. Relationship between working conditions and health 3. How successful were the measures taken to solve health problems caused by industrialisation?

3 Population & Urbanisation 18001850 Population of Britain 11m 21m London 1m 2.4m Manchester 25,000 (1775)400,000 % urban dwellers c.50% 1851 c.80% 1901

4 Poverty and squalor - Blue Gate Fields, 1872. Taken from London: A Pilgrimage by Blanchard Jerrold and Gustave Doré.

5 Crowded and insanitary conditions for the labouring poor resulting from industrialisation

6 ‘everywhere the heaps of debris, refuse, and offal; standing pools for gutters, and stench which alone would make it impossible for a human being in any degree civilised to live in such a district’ (1830s) ‘I saw, or thought I saw, a degenerate race - human beings stunted, enfeebled, and depraved - men and women that were not to be aged - children that were never to be healthy adults.’ (Thackrah, 1832)

7 Charles Thackrah, The Effects of the Principal Arts, Trades and Professions, and of Civic States and habits of Living, on Health and Longevity (1831) J P Kay, The Moral and Physical Condition of the Working Classes employed in the Cotton Manufacture in Manchester (1832) P.Gaskell, The Manufacturing Population of England, Its Moral, Social and Physical Condition (1833)

8 Contemporary Accounts Edwin Chadwick, Report on the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population (1842) Dr Calvery Holland, Diseases of the Lungs from Mechanical Causes and Inquiries into the Condition of the Artisans exposed to the inhalation of dust (1843)


10 Industrialisation - Optimists Industrialisation allowed Britain to escape from population pressure on limited resources ‘First industrial nation’ – prestige of Britain Belief in continual progress – socially, economically – will raise the standards of living for all Measurable by rising incomes, falling mortality. Ill effects have been exaggerated Pessimists rely on impressionistic evidence of ‘horror stories’

11 Industrialisation – Pessimists (e.g. E.P. Thompson) Rapid urbanisation and industrialisation caused a drastic deterioration in living and working conditions Economic growth did not justify this – exploitation of working classes by ruling elite

12 Discipline: ‘ For 12 mortal hours does the leviathan of machinery toil on with vigour undiminished and with pace unslackened and the human machines must keep pace with him. What signify languor, sickness, disease? The pulsations of the physical monster continue and his human agents must drag after him’. Danger: ‘Unfenced machinery took its toll of fingers; hair and loose clothes which, often because of fatigue, were allowed to fall into what the novelist Francis Trollope called “the ceaseless whirring of a million hissing wheels,” and the long hours of standing and bending produced the characteristic weak legs and arched back of the former child operative’. Morality: ‘Factories and especially mines were corrupting influences upon young children, who soon adopted the licentious morals of their young adult colleagues’.

13 Saltaire, Titus Salt’s new industrial community, c.1850

14 ‘Thousands of little children, both male and female, but principally female, from seven to fourteen years of age, are daily compelled to labour from six o’clock in the morning to seven in the evening, with only- Britons, blush while you read it! - with only thirty minutes allowed for eating and recreation. Poor infants! Ye are indeed sacrificed at the shrine of avarice, without even the solace of the Negro slave; ye are no more than he is, free agents; ye are compelled to work as long as the necessity of your needy parents may require, or the cold-blooded avarice of your worse than barbarian masters may demand! Ye live in the boasted land of freedom, and fell and mourn that ye are slaves, and slaves without the only comfort which the Negro has’. ‘Yorkshire Slavery’, Richard Oastler to Leeds Mercury 16 Oct 1830 (From Fraser, Welfare State, pp.254-5)

15 Legislation 1802 Health and Morals of Apprentices Act maximum 12 hour day for pauper apprentices 1819 Peel’s Act Forbad children under 9 from working in cotton mills and children over 9 were limited to a 12 hour day 1833 Factory Act (textile industry only) Minimum age of 9 in cotton mills 9-13 Maximum 8 hour day 13-18 Maximum12 hour day 1842 Mines Act Excluded women and children under 10 1844 Factory Act Allowed children of 8 – but only 6.5 hours 1867 Factory Act Extension Act - (premises over 50 people) Minimum age of 10 10-14 Half day working 14-18 and women, maximum 10 hour day

16 ‘The general rule - a rule not more beneficial to the capitalist than to the labourer - is that contracts shall be free and that the state shall not interfere between the master and the workman. (Although) This is the general rule there is an exception. Children cannot protect themselves and are therefore entitled to the protection of the public.’ ( Derek Fraser, Welfare State, p.21)

17 It appears, that in 1822, ‘out of 2,500 grinders, there were not 35 who had reached the age of 50, and perhaps not double that number who had reached the age of 45.’ ‘the symptoms of the grinders’ disease are difficulty of breathing... sonorous cough... spitting of blood... expectoration of mucus, containing often dust, and, in the latter stage, of fetid and purulent matter; muddiness of complexion; anxiety of countenance; pulse quickened... sweats and diarrhoea; emaciation; - in a word the signs of slow but certainly fatal consumption.’ Remedies recommended by Dr Knight: ‘Dusting the machines... great reduction in the time of labour... use of wet stones as much as possible... large flues to be laid on the floor for ventilation... fork-grinding to be confined to criminals.’

18 White phosphorous (Wohl pp.268-9) Phossy jaw – ‘The wound in the gum, however, was found not to heal; offensive matter would begin to ooze from it, and ere long a portion of the alveolus (the tooth socket in the jaw bone) became exposed. Occasionally the portion of the bone thus denuded came away, bringing with it, perhaps, one or two of the neighbouring teeth, and the disease made no further progress. More frequently, however, the disease continued to spread; and sometimes slowly, sometimes rapidly, more and more of the jaw-bones became denuded, the gums grew spongy,..the teeth got loose and fell out, the fetid suppuration became more and more copious, the soft parts around grew swollen, tender, and infiltrated, and often the seat of sinuses. And thus the disease continued to progress, till in the course of six months, a year, two years- it might be even five or six years- the patient sank from debility, or phthisis, or from some other consequence of the lethal affection; or, having lost piecemeal, or in the mass, large portions, one half, or even the whole – of the upper or lower jaw, retunrned to his original state of health, but the victim of a shocking and permanent debility’.

19 More Legislation 1878 Factory and Workshops Act - banned women and children from working with white lead and phosphorous dipping. 1883 Preventing Lead Poisoning Act - set standards for ventilation, lavatories, meal rooms, baths, protective clothing and respirators 1896 Dr Arthur Whitelegge appointed Chief Inspector of Factories. Emphasis on industrial disease rather than sanitation 1891 Factory Act transferred sanitary control away from factory inspectors to local authorities. 1895 Factory and Workshop Act required notification of industrial diseases for first time

20 Motives for State Intervention – public health, occupational disease? Public health reform delivered unevenly, and very localised Resistance to state interference in both arenas, though gradually implemented reforms Humanitarian concerns Gender and protective model: see Barbara Harrison Some actions against disease reduced incidence e.g. cholera, smallpox – Supported capitalists - by protecting children and women- the adult male worker was left unprotected – Patriarchal system - by excluding women from areas of work it supported sexual segregation of the labour market and gender inequalities in wage rates and access to work

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