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CONDITIONS IN 1800
Rubbish was dumped in the streets
Life expectancy was low
Disease was common
There were no proper water systems such as drainage, sewerage systems, etc.…read more

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WHY WERE THE CONDITIONS SO
AWFUL?
Laissez-faire
The government believed in laissez-faire: that they should not interfere with people's lives and
allow them to sort out their own water systems and clean up the streets.
The Industrial Revolution
This caused towns to spring up rapidly around factories, meaning that they would be breathing in
the fumes and their water supplies would be contaminated with pollution. As well as this, the
factory companies were responsible for building the houses for their workers and so spent as
little money as possible on housing, resulting in poor quality of living areas which were crowded
together.
Ignorance
People had still not made the connection between filth and disease.…read more

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EDWIN CHADWICK
Chadwick was a social reformer and a civil servant
He believed that sickness was linked to poverty
In a 1942 report, he published this idea, adding that to improve public health, local boards of
health should be set up to organise the improvement of sewerage and drainage systems, as well
as water supplies
He said this could be paid for from local rates…read more

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PUBLIC HEALTH ACT, 1848
The 1848 Public Health Act was established largely due to Chadwick's report.
A central board of health was set up in London for 5 years; Edwin Chadwick was a leader.
The act stated that if 10% of rate payers agreed, small towns and cities could set up their own local
boards of health.
However, this was not compulsory.…read more

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REACTION TO THE PUBLIC HEALTH
ACT
Chadwick tried to pressure more councils into taking action.
The vast majority of towns did not oblige to the act because they did not want to pay extra rates
and the belief in laissez-faire was still strong.
The Times newspaper famously reported, "We prefer to take our chance of cholera than be
bullied into health."
Chadwick's enemies persuaded the government to fire him as they thought he was a dictator and
a bully. This meant that the central board of health was abolished.…read more

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