Night Soil

Garden Illustration

“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”

Public Health Report, 1848

In 1851, there was an outcry. Local residents begged the town authorities and petitioned Barking’s ‘Inspector of Nuisance’ to stop the manure from ruining their community. Eventually new rules were put in place meaning that ‘night soil’ was banned from being used and the hours that manure was transported were restricted.

Supported by: