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As Britain became more industrialised, more people moved from the
country to the towns and cities to find work, meaning that there needed to
be more houses in a smaller space. This meant that conditions were
appalling no sanitation/clean water, crowded, unventilated.
For the first half of the 19th century, the British government adopted a
"laissez faire" approach (basically a continuation of public health since the
Roman Empire had disbanded.)
In 1848, the first Public Health Act was approved by the government
however it was not compulsory and therefore ineffective. By 1853, only
103 towns had followed it. The main rule of the first Public Health Act was
o A national board of health is to be set up, with the power to create
local health board where there is a high death rate. These
committees are designed to improve drainage, sewage system,
rubbish collection, public toilets and water supplies.
This Public Health Act was based on a report that Edwin Chadwick filed on
living conditions and health of the poor in town and country areas. He
highlighted that most poverty was due to ill health, which in turn was
caused by the living conditions. People opposed his ideas of improving
public health because local businessmen, politicians and other taxpayers
resented being told what to do and did not wish to pay more taxes. His
report was filed in 1842.
In 1854, John Snow discovered the link between cholera and dirty water,
due to a communal water pump that was linked to a sewage system.
There was a heat wave in the summer of 1858, which caused the smell of
the filthy River Thames worse than ever. The smell was so bad that the
politicians in the Houses of Parliament demanded to be moved to a
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This event was known as the `Great Stink'. This caused
the MPs to realise that their city needed saving, so they turned to an
architect named Joseph Bazalgette. In 1855 he had been asked to draw
up plans for a network of underground tunnels (or sewers) to collect all the
waste from nearly one million London houses before it had a chance to
flow to the Thames.…read more
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o Health centres
o Health visiting, home nursing and aftercare of sick
o Maternity and child welfare.