Inspectors of Nuisances

Garden Illustration

A public health report from 1848:

“Large quantities of manure were unloaded at it [the wharf] during the night. Barges of all sizes, from 40 to 80 tons, brought it down from London. The bargemen themselves said the manure had quantities of night soil mixed with it, besides which it contained the refuse from the slaughter-houses, as well as dead calves, pigs, cats and dogs, all in a more or less putrid state. The place was in such a state that he could shovel up the maggots upon it. The smell was sometimes so bad that he could not open his doors and windows. About a week before the inquiry the smell was most offensive, and this was found to proceed from a large dead hog, which was thrown into the creek. One of his daughters had been ill, and her medical attendant gave it as his opinion that her indisposition was caused by the smell proceeding from the manure on the wharf”

The Public Health Act of 1848 established local health boards, including at Barking. Valence House holds original Minutes of these parish meetings, documenting the appointment of an Inspector of Nuisance, districts for inspections, and many ‘nuisance reports’ (including many complaints of manure through the town and at the Quay), plus the boards’ actions on trying to regulate and reduce the impact.

A magistrates’ order was obtained to strengthen Public Health Board regulations and people were given jobs to inspect the manure cargoes that arrived at the Quay and wharves.

Large quantities of manure were unloaded at it [the wharf] during the night. Barges of all sizes, from 40 to 80 tons, brought it down from London. The bargemen themselves said the manure had quantities of night soil mixed with it, besides which it contained the refuse from the slaughter-houses, as well as dead calves, pigs, cats and dogs, all in a more or less putrid state. The place was in such a state that he could shovel up the maggots upon it. The smell was sometimes so bad that he could not open his doors and windows. About a week before the inquiry the smell was most offensive, and this was found to proceed from a large dead hog, which was thrown into the creek. One of his daughters had been ill, and her medical attendant gave it as his opinion that her indisposition was caused by the smell proceeding from the manure on the wharf”

It was recognised by some the value and necessity of manure for the market gardening industries:

“It must not be overlooked that the quay was a great convenience to the farmers and market gardeners, who occupied about 10,000 acres, and that they would be seriously injured if the landing of manure was prohibited.”

Regulations stated that fishermen (many of whom had signed the petition) were banned from caulking, careening or breaming of vessels within 20 yards of the quay.

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