Eastern Post and City Chronicle.
Saturday, 7 December 1889.
CONDEMNED HOUSES IN BETHNAL GREEN.
ON Wednesday at the Worship Street Police-court the sanitary inspector of St. Matthew, Bethnal Green, attended before Mr. Montagu Williams, Q.C., to support summonses taken out against the owners of 15 houses in the parish, which it was sought to close as unfit for human habitation. The premises proceeded against are known as 1, 2, 3, and 4, Short Street; 3, 4, 5, 36, 37, and 38, New Nichol Street, and 26, 28, 30, 32, and 34, Half Nichol Street.
The evidence of the sanitary inspector, Mr. Weston, and of Dr. Paddock Bate, medical officer, showed that in all instances the houses were damp, ill-ventilated, in some cases without adequate water supply, and the atmosphere poisoned by effluvium from drains. Mr. Weston gave particulars of one house where five children and two adults inhabited one room, where the walls and ceilings were decayed, and the woodwork rotten. The houses at 32 and 34, Half Nichol Street are weather boarded only, and the small yards had been built over for use as workshops, thus farther reducing ventilation.
Dr. Bate described how one room was used by a family for house purposes, but six ducks were also kept running about the room. Scores of ducks, fowls, and rabbits were kept in the cellars and basements. Generally the sleeping place was level with the floor, the walls and floor being damp. In the majority of cases the access to the yard accommodation was by crawling through a cellar 4 ft. high, and Dr. Bate said that in these cases there was nothing for it but to close the houses. In other cases the houses would be allowed to be re-opened when the proper re-construction had been made.
The magistrate asked Mr. Weston, who had proved that his inspection of the premises was in some cases first made 12 months ago, how it was that so long a time had elapsed before action was taken.
Mr. Weston said he had a large district, and though it was his duty to visit he had been unable to do so.
Mr. Montagu Williams remarked that though it might not be the inspectorís fault, the authorities were to blame for not having a proper number of officers. Here it seemed that for over 12 months numbers of poor people were known to be living in the foulness described.
Dr. Bate said he had condemned the houses now proceeded against, in some cases as far back as 1883, and others in 1885. The sanitary committee had, however, visited them, and after some patching up had been done the matter dropped with their consent.
A gentleman at the solicitorís table said he represented the trustees of the leaseholder of the houses in Short Street and New Nichol Street. There was no objection to the houses being closed.
Mr. Montagu Williams asked who was the leaseholder, and was told it was Mr. Pearson Gower, who had held a great deal of property in Bethnal Green.
Mr. Montagu Williams asked who granted the leases, and when told the freeholder was the late Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, remarked that it was sometimes worth while to get at the bottom of these things.
Orders were made as asked for, Mr. Montagu Williams expressing the hope that the poor inhabitants would be looked after.