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Public health is termed as the knowledge and skill of avoiding illness, extending fitness


According to Acheson report (1988) Public health is termed as the knowledge and skill of avoiding illness, extending fitness in the course of a planned hard work of the community that is the idea and the hard work of the society will concentrate policy matters at the point of the general health of the people (Orme et al., 2003).

Weber described class as “a number of people who have in common a specific causal component of their life chances in so far as this component is represented exclusively by economic interest in the possession of goods and opportunities for income, and is represented by under the conditions of the commodity or labour markets” (Townsend, 1974, p.128)

19th Century Housing

According to Orme et al., (2003); Ineichen (1993) ; Burnett (1978) and Lambert, (2008) accommodations in the 19th century were extremely poor, overcrowded and unhygienic many homes were not properly constructed, and they were full of waterlogged and were unhealthy for human that is there were no illuminations; no airing in the house, in a typical home there were no furnishings in the individual homes, households had to share only one bed; that was mostly seven to nine individuals were sleeping in the same room and bed and the fact is these were usual practices around the time and sanitation had always been poor since the 18th century and much poorer as the numbers of people living in the same room increased and this contributed to the distribution of infectious illness which included cholera, typhoid and typhus.

Meanwhile there were no set of laws to construct a house in many cities.Building constructors usually constructed houses as they want and they mostly build a lot of properties in a single land.Several homes were ‘back-to-backs’ which means the back of one house was attached to the back of the other and were often two or three rooms, the sad thing was they were all cellar dwellings and cities such as Liverpool households stayed in cellars, which were soggy and inadequately ventilated as well as packed.

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Extremely poor individuals dozed on straw as they could not have the funds for beds (Lambert, 2008; Burnett, 1978; Ineichen, 1993) and Cholera around that time was very contagious which led many to a serious intestinal illness the incidence of cholera was very fast which took the lives of twenty- two thousand people the warning signs were aggressive diaheohoa with vomiting led by severe pain in the arms, legs and the stomach. Persistent dehydration and fever were frequent with the sickness and warning signs were very speedy within three to twelve hours and the skin turned dry and a cloudy navy or purple in colour whiles the individuals eyes sucked in their holes (Lambert, 2008; Burnett, 1978; Ineichen, 1993).

Within 1848-1849 cholera took over 50, 000 – 70, 000 lives and was a major public concerned. (Orme et al., 2003; Ineichen, 1993; Burnett, 1978)

Moreover, Baggott, (1998) confirmed that the early 19th century had lots of voluntary hospitals that were set up by those who gave funds to the public. The status of the voluntary hospitals were such that doctors did not have to charge for treatment with the concession of allied with the hospital, but doctors were making a living by treating the rich investors whose donations sustained the hospitals. The rich were always treated in their houses instead of the hospitals and hospitals in the 19th century were chiefly for the poor who could not have enough money for treatment. However, permission to these hospitals was very discriminative in such that the poor and the individuals with contagious illness were often refused entry since the doctors were not getting any money from them (Baggott, 1998).

According to Orme et al., (2003) Ineichen, (1993) Burnett (1978) Lambert (2008) it was a very sad moment when a member of one’s family could only be seen for a few days or hours after woken up an in 1843, Individuals could not live for more than 26 years in Liverpool, 37 years in London and 40-45 years in Surrey and many children lost their lives prior to their fifth birthday (Ineichen, 1993) and incidence of contagious illness were considered as miasma theory, which stated that illness came as a result of inhaling toxic substances which was the main focused of the Victorian public health groups, when incidence began to worsen (Ineichen, 1993). In 1832 the Royal Commission on the poor Laws were chosen as the concerns for public health rose very high with an increase in the cost of public funds which was followed by outburst of illness (Ineichen, 1993) it was not until 1840 when one Edwin Chadwick who was a famous supporter for social justice and the overall development of sanitary situations in the neighbourhood as a whole with decided to look into why there were a lot of contagious illness and according to Chadwick, the outbreak of contagious sickness were owed to poor sanitation, he recognised the fact that high levels of poverty were the grounds for individuals not being able to meet the expense of living in a cleaner environment however, individuals were really cleaning within as well as ingestion from polluted water supplies. In 1840, Chadwick had a strong-willed that something had to be done by investigating on his own. By 1842 Chadwick who was the Commissioner to the Poor Law ultimately issued a statement on the Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population of Great Britain. The statement accused the poor sanitation and overcrowded homes as the cause of illness. Chadwick assumed that the awfully standard of living of the poor gave way to the prevalence of illness; therefore he made careful observation on the way of life of individuals. Chadwick’s came up with a conclusion that the poor sanitary condition was the cause of illness in the community but his analysis also he made it know that a well developed procedures must be in place so as to resolve the lives of the un-wealthy individuals in the society and the procedures were to run sufficient drainage and water systems. Chadwick also added that all refuse must not be stored in homes and roads so as to reduce the spread of illness in the community (Ineichen, 1993). It was not until the hub of 1800s when one physician John Snow , who was managing the incidence of cholera in Broadgate which was a poor suburb in London assessed the effect of the illness from one area to another and made it known that drinking from polluted water was the cause of the incidence of illness such as Cholera rather than inhaling polluted scent from the atmosphere and as a result, a new legislation was passed when Chadwick revealed his 1842 report which made it clear that poor standard of living were the cause of the major incidence of illnesses in town which led majority of people to be occupied in cellars as a result of the government driven them out of their homes in 1851 to stop overcrowded (Orme et al., 2003; Ineichen, 1993; Burnett, 1978; Lambert, 2008). Many men groups named Paving Commissioners or Improvement commissioners were set up with the rights to tile, sanitary and illuminate the roads but in those times England was separated into parishes therefore the Commissioners merely had rights over specific parishes ( Burnett, 1978; Ineichen, 1993).

However in the 19th century many new houses were constructed which expanded to other parishes where the commissioners had no rights in the new neighbourhood their roads were normally untilled with no lights on the streets. They had no drainage systems and when it rained roads curved into sludge. Individuals were splashing unclean water in the roads which left stagnant on the roads, toilets outside the homes and were normally used by more addresses, there were usually long lines especially on Sunday mornings to use the toilets (Lambert, 2008; Burnett, 1978; Ineichen, 1993).


In the nineteenth century the living condition of the British civilization was extremely poor (Rose, 1982) take home pay per every individual was ?45 in 1900 and ?57 pounds in 1938. Many individuals who were able to work fell into poverty at some point of their lives and poverty was considered as part of the civilization. Even individuals with the maximum paid could come across in a time of work dejection. As work was very difficult to come by even if you were desperate and determined to do so. Even an artisan at some point had to depend on the incomes of children, help from friends, or borrowed money from neighbouring tradesmen so as to make ends meet before things get better. A bigger percentage of the British population straggled to make ends meet and their level of poverty were more constant even if it was not everlasting one (Rose, 1982), that is pauperism and misery was considered as a collective problem but not poverty.

Later in the 19th century plans were made to reconstruct the public health professionals were allotted and assisted to develop the drainage systems, accommodations and roads. Individuals started to realise about the effects of good hygiene. Florence Nightingale went on an assignment to develop hospital environments whiles Joseph Lister also revealed that many contagious illnesses came as a result of unsterile instruments used in surgery therefore he started cleaning apparatus after surgery this reduced the number of contagious deaths during surgery operation from 60% to 4% since then individuals were able to live longer after discovery of personal hygiene. ….

The public sector had the biggest share of hospital

Political Reforms

According to Lambert (2008) the Tory regime was set up in 1822 which then initiated a number of reforms at that moment, individuals could be suspended for more than 200 crimes however in 1825-1828 the life sentenced was eradicated for than 180 offences.

The Industrial Acts

Lambert (2008) has confirmed that an industry is termed as an environment where over fifty individuals are engaged with the aim of developing a mass product or material. The industrial revolution formed a unique order for women and child labour. Children were always working together with their families but prior to the 19th century children normally did part time work in fabric industries with women and were usually asked to do lengthy hours normally 12 hours or more in a day. The government was aware of the problem and in 1819 a law was passed to make illegitimate for children less than nine years of age to be employed in fabric industries. On the other hand the law was not very effective as there were no assessors to monitor the industries for unlawful children working. Therefore in 1833 a new law was passed for supervisors to monitor the fabric industries to stop children below the age of nine from labouring in the fabric industries. Children who were aged nine to thirteen were also not permitted to do more than twelve hour shift aday or more than 48 hours within seven days and Children aged thirteen to eighteen were also not to do more than 69 hours within seven days. Moreover no one below the aged of eighteen was permitted to do late night shift that is between 8.30 in the evening to 5.30 in the morning but within 1844 another act passed to disallow female from doing more than twelve hour shift within 24 hours which also decreased the minimum working age for operating in the fabric industries but in 1847 females and children were stopped from doing over ten hour shift within twenty four hours in the fabric industries.

In addition to the reforms, in 1850 the law was modified to permit females to work for ten and halve hours a day meanwhile fabric industries were not to be operated for more twelve hours within twenty four hours a day and every employee together with men, were authorized to take one and half hours for meal breaks however, In 1867 the law was expanded to all industries not only fabric industries however the1878 Factory Act explained an industry as any environment where equipment are used in processing materials. Moreover, in 1842 Miners Act was passed which prohibited females and children below the aged of ten from going underground to do mining work(Lambert, 2008).

At the middle of 1860s the ten hour shift a day was very normal, but not worldwide. In ‘sweated industries’ for instance manufacturing of matchboxes and fasten and individuals were getting more wages for ever single they completed many were working from their residence and usually worked from sunrise till sundown to make ends meet. All the same in 1871 bank holidays were formed and In the 1870s a number of professional employees were assigned an annual seven day vacation with pay. (Although it was not until 1939 that everybody had annual paid holidays) but in 1890s it was general for most individuals to have the weekends to rest especially Saturday afternoon(Lambert, 2008).

Trade Unions in the 19th Century Between the 1799 and 1800 the regime conceded the Combination Acts, which prohibited men from doing more than two jobs so as to make more earnings but in 1824, the combination acts were abolished but it was still not certain whether trade unions were officially authorized to make laws and was not until 1871 that trade unions were certainly made lawful.

Moreover, In the 1850s and 1860s qualified employees created temperate trade unions named New Model Unions which employees had to make donations towards the union and in turned received illness and job loss benefits and the New Model Unions were devoted and regarded as highly professionals who tried to consult instead of thump it was not until 1868 when TUC was established (Lambert, 2008)..

Moreover, in the late 19th century unqualified employees started to structure an influential trade union and in 1888 one Annie Besant tried to arrange a thump between females who toiled in Bryant and May industries to produce matches the reason was that the girls were getting low wages from working with them and experienced a sickness named ‘phossy jaw’ which comes as a result of operating with phosphorous. The strike went well and the companies were asked to increase their wages and in 1889 the girls created a trade union to protect their rights at work (Lambert, 2008).

Meanwhile In March 1889 individuals working for Gas companies and common Labourers also created a union whiles on the 14th August 1889 employees from the Great London Dock also had an achievable thump for five weeks for increase in pay (Lambert, 2008)

Professional employees occupied in ‘through’ addresses, as the name implies it means one can stroll through them from front to back. Meanwhile in the 1840s town councils started to make enforcements on houses. Cellar houses were prohibited and the style back-to-backs could not be constructed anymore but it was not viable to destroy and restore them all at ago. It took many years and many were still occupying in back-to-backs in the 20th century (Lambert, 2008; Burnett, 1978).

Still at the beginning of the 19th century toilets were usually cesspits, which were not regularly drained and from time to time spilled over while urine could leak through the floor into holes from which individuals got drinking water. This led to the spread of contagious illness such as cholera in many cities in the1831-32, 1848-49, 1854 and 1865-66 and in 1848 a Public Health Act was imposed. The act made it obligatory to structure local Boards of Health in towns and where the annual mortality rate will surpass 23 per 1,000 or if 10% of the population wanted it. Local Boards of Health could claim that all new homes get waste pipes and toilets. They would also arrange a water supply, street cleaning and waste collection. And In 1875 a Public Health Act was reinforced over the old acts where every local authority were asked to nominate Medical Officers of Health who would be responsible for taking legal action over individuals who sold polluted food or drink which was unclean to be utilized by individuals and local councils were made compulsory to offer waste collection (Lambert, 2008).

Town councils started to make public parks available and a lot were approved by-laws, which set down the least standards for new homes. However in the 1860s and 1870s sewers were dug in many big towns and In the 1870s water supplies were installed in many towns which led to much better and hygienic environment at the later part of the 19th century than earlier stage whiles in 1875 the Artisan’s Dwellings Act was conceded, which enabled councils the right to destroy poor areas but authorization to destroy huge range poor areas could not start until the 20th century. (Lambert, 2008)

Also in the middle of the 19th century the standard of living grew up. And by and by homes developed bigger. And In the end of the 19th century ‘two-up, two-downs’ were frequently seen that is homes with double bedrooms with a kitchen and ‘front room’ and most professional workers occupied in addresses with three bedrooms. Meanwhile at the later part of the 19th century very few poor households were still occupying in only a single room (Lambert, 2008)

The Poor Law

In 1792 well known magistrates met at Speenhamland in Berkshire and formulated a scheme for helping the poor. Minimum salaries were added to cash heaved by a poor charge. Several neighbourhoods of England implemented the scheme but it beard out to be very costly and the government however determined to make some amendments. In 1834 the Poor Law Amendment Act was conceded. In future the poor were to be handled as unkindly as possible to discourage them from getting aid from the country. In future able bodied people with no income were to be forced to enter a workhouse. (In practice some of the elected Boards of Guardians sometimes gave the unemployed ‘outdoor relief’ i.e. they were given money and allowed to live in their own homes).

For the unfortunate people made to enter workhouses life was made as unpleasant as possible. Married couples were separated and children over 7 were separated from their parents. The inmates were made to do hard work like breaking stones to make roads or breaking bones to make fertiliser.

The poor called the new workhouses ‘bastilles’ (after the infamous prison in Paris) and they caused much bitterness. However as the century went on the workhouses gradually became more humanitarian (Lambert, 2008).


Ashforth, D., Digby, A., Duke, F., Flinn, W.M., Fraser, D., McCord, N., Paterson, A., Rose, E.M. (1976) the new poor Law in the Nineteenth Century Macmillan: London

Baggott, R. (1998) Health and Health care in Britain (2nd Ed) Macmillan: Basingstoke

Burnett, J. (1978) a Social History of Housing 1815-1970 David and Charles: Vermont

Englander, D. (1998) Poverty and poor Law Reform in 19th Century Britain, 1834-1914 From Chadwick to Booth Longman: London

Ineichen, B. (1993) Homes and Health: How Housing and health interact Chapman & hall: London

Lambert, T (2008) England in the 19th Century 23.03.11)

Orme, J. Powell, J. Taylor, P. Harrison, T. and Grey, M. (2003) Public Health for the 21st Century: New Perspectives on policy, participation and practice Open University press: London

Rose, E.M. (1982) Studies in Economic and Social History: The Relief of poverty 1834-1914 Macmillan: London

Townsend, P. (1974) the Concept of Poverty Heinemann: London

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