1854 Public Health Inquiry Part 1
Posted by on January 01 1970 00:02:07

Public Health Act (11 & 12 Vict c 63)

Report to the General Board of Health on a Preliminary Inquiry into the Sewerage, Drainage, Supply of Water and Sanitary Condition of the Parish of STROUD in the County of Gloucester. By W RANGER  ESQ, Superintending Inspector

Whitehall 20 October 1854


PURSUANT with your instructions I have the honour to lay before you the following report on the sewerage, drainage, water supply and sanitary condition of the parish of Stroud in the county of Gloucester. The petition presented to your Honourable Board by Poulett Scrope Esq MP contains the signatures of 260 inhabitants rated to the relief of the poor within the said parish, the number of assessments being 1563.

Notice of my visit was duly published as required by the Act (11&12 Vict c 63) in the Stroud Journal of the 26 August, and the Stroud Free Press of the 1st September 1854 and at the usual places for public notices in the said parish. In accordance with this notice I attended at the Town-hall  on the 13 September at 10 am and opened the inquiry, and then, in consequence of the hall being required for county court business, I adjourned for the remainder of the day to the subscription room resuming at the Town-hall on the 14th, 15th, 16th and the evening of the 18th, when a meeting was held in the subscription room by arrangement, at which time I made known generally the conclusions I had arrived at, and the recommendations I should be prepared to submit to your Honourable Board.

The Inquiry was attended by W Bishop  B Bucknall, Thos Neale Clarke, W Mills Esqs commissioners; WH Paine Esq MD,  W Armstrong Surgeon,  E Witchell Esq clerk to the commissioners; W Capell esq JP and feoffee of the Town-hall; Mr Hogg guardian of the poor; Rowland P Wood, and G Bucknall Esqs; Messrs  J Sutton, T Bliss, J Isacke – Lewis – Barnfield, H White, D Wood, Abbey P Wood and several others, as well as the tax collector and the inspector of nuisances.


The Town of Stroud is 10 miles (S by E)  from Gloucester and 102 from London and situated on the Slade or Stroud water near its confluence with the Frome. The town for the most part stands on a considerable declivity in the midst of a most beautiful country. It has been famous for the peculiar properties of its water for dyeing purposes, particularly for dyeing scarlet.

Geological Character

The upper portion of the town is seated on the lias; whilst the lower part, or about two-thirds of it, stands upon the lias marl.

Area of the Parish and Population

The parish of Stroud comprises the tythings of Upper and Lower Lypiatt, and Steanbridge, and its area is 3,810 statute acres.

The total number of houses built and building in 1841 was 1621 and in 1851 it had increased to 1951, viz :- 

 1841 1851
Inhabited 1373 1837
Uninhabited  241   111
 Building     7      3
 Total1621 1951
The population  in each of the years from 1801 to 1851 was as follows:-

Years  TotalMales  Females
 1801 5422 2602 2820
 1811 5321 2656 2865
 1821 7095 3430 3667
 1831 8607 4164 4443
 1841 8680 4075 4605
 1851 8798 4129 4669

Taking the number of inhabited houses in 1851 at 1,837 and the population at 8,798 the average number of persons amounted to rather more than 4.78 per house.

General Health

W H Paine Esq MD stated:-

“As regards the general health of the inhabitants I see about 500 patients in the year, and upon looking at them call tell whence they come and distinguish those for the upper part of the town; and besides the condition of sewers in the lower part of the town , and a deficiency of them in the upper part, there is another source of unhealthiness in the very great number  of pigs the cottagers keep close to the public street. They are in the habit of accumulating large quantities of stale wash. There is another custom which is an exceedingly unwholesome one, i.e. the saving, or rather the keeping large quantities of stale urine in or close to the houses for the use of the clothiers, who collect it every morning from cottagers by whom it is saved, and sold at so much a pail. It is generally collected in carts which are not allowed to go out after ten o’clock in the morning, but they have been seen as late as twelve.

Prevailing Diseases

WH Paine Esq MD stated:-
The are some parts of the town from which fever in some form or other is seldom absent. The form in which it is generally seen  is a low type of intermittent

Mr Armstrong, Surgeon stated
“We are not much subject to epidemics in this neighbourhood, but occasionally have fevers, small pox,scarlatine, diarrhoea, &c. I consider Chapel-Street, Brick-row and Stroud hill to be the most unhealthy localities”


The mortuary return of all the deaths in the parish for the last seven years, ending 1854, prepared at my request by AJ Driver Esq, superintending registrar shows that out of 1581 deaths, 253, or about one sixth are recorded as beingfrom zymotic diseases alone, and of the latter  about one-half were those of persons under five years of age.

The average rate of mortality for the seven years ending 31 March 1854, estimated upon the population of 1851, amounted to 25.68 per thousand, whilst the variation in the rate in different parts of the town appears to be from 1 death to 6.9 houses to 1 to 32.

Measures adopted during the prevalence of Cholera

In July 1849 a (vestry) meeting was convened with a view to adopting precautionary measures, when the parish was divided into 15 districts and visitors were appointed to inspect and report once a week on all nuisances injurous to the public health, 26 inhabitants undertaking the office. At the meeting held on 26th July 1849 it was proposed, and carried by a majority  of 10 to 8,  “That all pigsties within the town should be "removed and put down permanently.” This resolution was however rescinded on the 9 August of the same year, and the following substituted in lieu thereof, viz., - “That all pigsties and hog-tubs within the town be removed, where the same can be removed under the “Nuisances Removal and Diseases Prevention Act.” The committee continued their labours from the July 1849, until November in the same year, and appear to have been unceasing in their efforts to secure the removal of a large number of nuisances comprising pigsties, cesspools, hog tubs, collections of manure, open drains, foul privies, &c. But for want of adequate power they were unable to prevent the recurrence of the nuisances, and on the 29 September 1853 (the next ensuing year), the inhabitants held another meeting at which it was resolved , “That  immediate steps should be taken for the removal of all nuisances tending to affect the public health,” and for this purpose sub-committees were appointed and the Parish divided into 14 districts and 70 of the inhabitants undertook the office of inspection. The proceedings were supported by the commissioners as per meeting of the 18 October 1853, when it was upon the motion of Dr Paine resolved “That the committees do support “the committee appointed for the the removal of nuisances “within the town.”

The general character of the nuisances was the same in 1853 as those reported on by the committee in 1849, as pigsties, dunghills, hog-tubs and stale hogwash, choked drains, foul privies, and cesspools,&c.

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