Chadwick’s Sanitary Report

Chadwick’s Sanitary Report

Public Health was an issue that concerned people around the country. In London people such as Charles Booth analysed the level of deprivation and pressed for reform, the same was true in Northern cities such as Leeds, York and Manchester where people such as Seebohm Rowntree and Dr. Baker compiled reports on the conditions of the people. Perhaps the most famous and significant of these reports into the conditions people endured at the time was that of Edwin Chadwick. Chadwick was asked by the government to draw up a report on living conditions in Britain’s towns and cities. This official report, ‘The Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population,’ published in 1842 was of great importance in terms of forcing change. In it, Chadwick made a link between poverty, squalor and disease. As a result the body ‘the health of Towns Association’ was formed which pressurised Parliament into making changes. These came some 6 years later in 1848 as a newly elected Liberal Government accepted some of Chadwick’s proposals and implemented the First Public Health Act. An extract from Chadwick’s report is included as source material:

From Chadwick’s Sanitary Report

The cottages in the neighbourhood were of the most wretched kind, mere hovels, built of rough stones and covered with ragged thatch. The wife’s face was dirty, and her tangled hair hung over her eyes. Her cap was ill washed and slovenly put on. Her whole dress was very untidy, and looked dirty and slatternly; everything about her seemed wretched and neglected and she seemed very discontented. She immediately began to complain of her house. The wet came in at the door of the only room, and when it rained, through every part of the roof also: large drops fell on her as she lay in her bed: in short she had found it impossible to keep things in order, so she had gradually ceased to make any exertions. Her condition had been borne down by the conditions of the house.

Things to think about:

Why did it take six years for Chadwick’s recommendations to be accepted by Government?

Chadwick’s description is of conditions in London. How do these compare with comments made in the Bradford Woolcombers Report?

Love Learning?

Subscribe to our Free Monthly Newsletter, Complete with Exclusive History Content