Discovering Local History
Health in Stoke-on-Trent
As the nineteenth century progressed the government gradually accepted the need to intervene in the economy to improve the health of the nation. For an account of the various measures enacted by Parliament in the Potteries see Lewis's The State of Large Towns in North Staffordshire (pp. 1-6).
In summary various Local Boards of Health were established in the different Pottery towns from the late 1840s onwards. These had powers to construct drains and cemeteries, and to dispose of sewage, later they were given the right to regulate the building of new homes. Towards the end of the nineteenth century the new local authorities (established in the 1880s and 1890s) were given the right to build homes for rent and to appoint medical officers of health.
The high infant mortality in Britain as a whole led to the passing of the Midwives Act that effectively turned the occupation into a profession, midwives having to obtain certificates to practice. This Act helped to more than half infant mortality in less than twenty years.
Legislation in the Pottery industry itself did not take place until the 1890s. In 1892 the industry was designated a dangerous one and 1899 legislation was introduced governing the use of raw lead.
These measures gradually reduced the death rate in the industry.
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