The Foxearth and District Local History Society

Local group - events and information.

Meetings and activities, announcements and notices for the Foxearth and District Local History Society, and associated organisations. For more information on recent events and current programme, please email or contact Clare Mathieson 01787 311337 or Lynda Rumble 01787 281434

FHS meeting May 2022. "The amazing power of public health"

The amazing power of public health

Why do we generally live longer and healthier lives than the people who inhabited our houses 150 years ago?  It would be easy to think that the answer was the invention of antibiotics, vaccinations, and the creation of the NHS but Dr Jonathan Belsey set out a different analysis at the May meeting of the Foxearth and District Local History Society. 

Jonathan, who has a professional background in medicine, used records from the Long Melford “Inspector of Nuisances” to paint a detailed and harrowing picture of the housing conditions that many working-class residents endured. 

Inspectors of nuisances, the forerunners of modern-day environmental health inspectors, had legal powers to enter homes and compel neglectful landlords to improve the sometimes-pitiful state of ordinary houses. Overcrowding, damp, rats, overflowing sewage, and dilapidations were written up in neat handwriting in thick ledgers — but, more importantly at the time, remedial action was then taken. 

The inspectors also had sweeping powers to enforce quarantine on people with highly infectious diseases such as scarlet fever. 

Well drafted legislation, implemented by conscientious officials, saved many lives.   


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