Doctors report on
[ J. B. DAVIS, (Surgeon) report
on Hanley & Shelton ] [ Mechanics' Institution
[ injurious occupations ]
[ H. HARDING, (Medical Officer) report on Hanley ]
[ ROBERT GARNER, F:L.S., (Surgeon) report on Stoke-on-Trent
[ report on Longton ]
J. B. DAVIS, (Surgeon) report
on Hanley & Shelton
No.1: A few REMARKS on the GENERAL and
sanatory condition of the town of HANLEY and SHELTON, and its Inhabitants, more
especially with respect to the Health of the Children of the Working Classes.
THE position of the town being elevated, and upon the brow of a hill, it is
consequently exposed to the winds from all quarters, but more especially to
the north-east, for a valley approaches the town in this direction, and serves
to give force and increased effect to the cold winds which prevail from that
It is to this elevated position and free ventilation that I am disposed to
attribute our comparative exemption from epidemic and certain endemic
diseases, especially to the common fever of the country, which in the summer
and autumn more particularly prevails in the surrounding towns of Burslem,
Newcastle, and Stoke; whilst Hanley and Shelton suffer much less from the
disease. But owing to this position and particular exposure to the most
ungenial wind of the heavens, the north-east, I conceive a peculiar character
is, to a certain extent, given to the diseases of the town-pulmonary
affections prevailing very extensively.
The direction in which the streets are built might have slightly counteracted
this unfavourable exposure, but unfortunately the inhabitants have, no doubt
in ignorance and without design, given it increased effect by arranging most
of the streets on the north-east and eastern side of the town in a direction
parallel to the current of the wind when it blows from this quarter.
There is a small closely-built district near
the centre of Hanley, called Chapel Field, and a series of blind streets
branching off from the main street in Shelton, both which places are crowded
with inhabitants living in squalid poverty. Many of the inhabitants of these
spots, but especially the children, have a peculiarly sickly aspect, most
probably from the poor and improper food they take, conjoined with the impure
air they breathe. Numbers of children die during infancy in these quarters of
the town, and fevers and other epidemic diseases prevail there most extensively
and in their most virulent forms.
In different parts of the town and on its outskirts there are many stagnant
pools in which vegetable matter is constantly undergoing a process of
putrefaction, for they are used for the purpose of steeping hazel-rods in, to
render them more pliant in the use to which they are applied, that of forming
crates, in which the earthenware of the neighbourhood is packed.
Besides these sources of unhealthy emanations, there are three or four
establishments on the outskirts of the town for boiling and calcining bones on
a large scale, which frequently inundate the neighbourhood with very offensive
But I have never been able to trace sickness directly to either of
these kinds of emanations, the work-people themselves enjoying as good health
as the rest of the community.
The inhabitants may be generally
distinguished as follows: - They consist mainly of workpeople engaged in the
manufacture of earthenware and china, and the various trades subsidiary to this
The rest are master manufacturers, shopkeepers, and professional
Of the various branches into which the staple manufacture of the town is
divided, Mr. Scriven, the highly respectable Sub-Commissioner, will, I believe,
give a detailed account. Besides these there are numerous auxiliary occupations,
such as these of designers, engravers, crate-makers, paper-makers,
colour-makers, lawn-weavers, colliers, &c.
In these various trades women and children are employed as well as men very
extensively. Children, too, are employed from an early age. They thus acquire
an unhealthy aspect, have the seeds of various diseases sown in their
constitutions, and are largely precluded from that elementary education which
should be obtained in childhood.
The wages paid in this neighbourhood are
good, better than those of most other manufacturing districts. Habits of
improvidence prevail notwithstanding extensively; and it not unfrequently
happens that men who draw 3s. a-week for them own work and that of their
children, suffer some of the evils and many of the irregularities of poverty.
Intemperance in intoxicating drinks is a serious evil among the working class.
Many of them allowing their families almost to starve to beg in order that
they may indulge in this vice. The numbers of public-houses, beer, and spirit
shops being great, and the latter appearing to enjoy a very prosperous trade.
A Tee-total Society, not much encouraged in the town, has probably done
something to check the consumption of these fluids, but it is to be feared too
little to be appreciable. Its effects are more apparent in having seemingly
reformed a few notorious and abandoned drunkards.
The females, from being employed from an
early age in the manufactories as transferrers painters, burnishers, &c., do
not acquire those domestic habits which would best fit them for housewives and
mothers: and it frequently happens that when they are bearing children they
continue to labour in the manufactories, and send out their infants to nurse
during the day, This is a source of great mortality amongst infants, for they
are fed by their nurses chiefly with bread steeped in water, and they early
become sickly, and die of various diseases of the digestive organs, those of the
chest, or head.
With respect to education, notwithstanding the number of elementary schools in
the neighbourhood, and the abundance of Sunday schools, with their numerous
attendants, I consider to be in a very imperfect state.
From the children
being received at so early an age in the manufactories, to produce money for
their parents, their attendance at school is very brief and incomplete. The
parents in general satisfy themselves by sending their children for a few
hours on a Sunday to a Sunday-school, where the methods of instruction, even
in the elementary branches, are very imperfect, and administered too
frequently by incompetent hands.
This is a serious evil attendant on a
Sunday-school education, however numerous the benefits which flow from it. It
serves to satisfy the mind of the parent with the impression that he is
educating his child without abridging his hours of work, whereas the
instruction is of the most slender, unmethodical, and inadequate kind, and
seasons of relaxation, so essential to the growth and health of the bodies as
well as minds of children, are almost altogether precluded. It is to be feared
they tend also to disseminate illiberal sectarian views.
A Mechanics' Institution has existed in the
town for 14 years. The number of members has for some years ranged only at from
200 to 300. It possesses an excellent library of upwards of 1,500 volumes, a
reading-room, classes for drawing and chemistry, and latterly elementary
classes. The drawing class has always been well attended - this art being so
useful to those engaged in the manufactures of the neighbourhood.
proportions of the different classes of persons, members of the institution,
will be seen in the following table:-
In the staple manufacture of the neighbourhood, earthenware and china, in the
collieries, and some other subsidiary branches, there are many employments
injurious to the health. The materials of the ware, such as flint and clay,
are prepared in the moist state; but in the process if baking china, around
flint is used to imbed each piece of ware in as it goes into the oven, in
order that it may not undergo any change of shape when at an intense heat.
After the ware has been baked this fine powder has to be brushed off Females
are employed in this process sometimes children.
The irritating dust they
inhale in this occupation frequently gives rise to rough and other pulmonary
ailments, which sometimes terminate in phthisis.
Some of the processes through which the ware passes, at an early stage of its
production, are carried on in apartments considerably heated. The plate-maker,
and all those who make flat ware, work in rooms, adjoining which there is
another apartment called the stove, as it is heated by a stove to about 130°
Fahr. A little boy, without shoes or stockings, is kept constantly running
between the plate-maker, from whom he receives the plate or dish newly formed
on a mould, and the stove, into which he carries this mould with the moist
plate upon it. These moulds, thus charged, are ranged upon shelves to dry, and
as soon as they are sufficiently dried the boy liberates the mould and carries
it back to receive a new layer of clay.
These boys, generally under 13 years of age, besides the high temperature to
which they are exposed, have a very laborious occupation, being kept on the
run from morning to night. A good plate maker will sometimes make from 400 to
500 plates in a day, generally about 320, each of which has to be separately
removed into the stove, and another mould returned - all which is accomplished
by one boy.
Besides which, some plate-makers even require their boys to what
is called wedge their clay, which is a very laborious process, and consists in
lifting large lumps of clays, and throwing them forcibly down on a hard
surface, to free it from air and render it more compact. These boys are
usually thin and pale, and frequently suffer from pulmonary and digestive
diseases. Sickness prevails among them extensively.
Another class of injurious occupations used
is that in which metallic oxides are used in the formation of glazes and
colours, and in their application to the ware. These concern the branches of the
dipper, the ground-layer, &c.
The processes themselves will, I have no
doubt, be accurately described by Mr Scriven. The dipper has his hands
frequently immersed in a glaze liquor containing white lead. Glazes may,
however, be made free from this or any other poisonous ingredient; and a
considerable diminution of the quality of such components of glazes has taken
place of late. The dipper in particularly liable to constipation, indigestion,
painter's colic; and ultimately paralysis.
He is attended by two boys, who; as they handle the ware covered with the glaze,
are exposed to like evils with himself.
But the most pernicious occupation is
that of the ground-layer. He applies metallic oxides to the ware; previously
coated with a viscid substance, as colouring matters in the state of impalpable
powder, and inhales this in great quantities. The consequences are painter's
colic and paralysis, which speedily occur, and soon render him unfit for any
kind of work whatever.
It is by far the most dangerous occupation of the
manufacture; and usually can only be closely followed for a period of five or
six years before the limbs become useless. Some manufacturers engage their
dippers to alternate this injurious occupation with some other not interfering
with the health. And others have made regulations in their manufactories, for
those engaged in such trades to wash themselves and change their clothes before
they go to their meals.
If these regulations were general, strictly enforced, and made incumbent on all
branches who use these pernicious substances, health might be greatly
economized. It usually happens that those who have been engaged in these
occupations are obliged to desist from them early in life, and they frequently
drag out the remainder of their existence in a very precarious manner.
Printers, who apply patterns to the ware by means of copper-plates, have a very
laborious occupation, carried on in very warm rooms to make the oily viscid
colours work freely. They are frequently deformed from the force they have to
exert on their presses, in a standing position, for such a number of hours. Some
workmen will take off 360 impressions for a dinner plate in a day.
sift the finely-pulverized plaster of Paris for the mould-makers, and are
frequently affected with cough from inhaling the dust.
China-painters and burnishers, chiefly females, who begin early in life,
suffer to a small extent from their sedentary labours;
but engravers; males,
who likewise commence early, suffer more from this cause. They are liable to
indigestion, constipation, piles, fistula, &c. They usually carry on their
occupation in very warm rooms; and their want of exercise, free aeration of
the blood, and perfect assimilation of their nutriment, under the circumstance
of extreme susceptibility to cold, render them prone to pulmonary diseases.
fact, these are the most serious evils of their occupation. Complaints of the
eyes are troublesome to them, as to all other engravers and persons employed
on minute objects.
Colliers, who employ young children to assist
in their labours, are a deformed, sickly class; here, as elsewhere, subject to
fits of great intemperance.
The preparation of oils to mix with the colours to lay upon the ware, either
by the copper- plate or pencil, is a very offensive and unhealthy occupation,
the empyreumatic vapours arising from them in the process being exceedingly
disgusting and acrid.
They fill the whole district of the town in which they
happen to be made with an offensive odour; but they are only required in small
quantities, and occupy but a short time in their preparation.
Of the various manufacturing trades carried
on here they are almost all, more or less, unfavourable to longevity. It may be
considered rare for the work-people to die at a very old age.
The peculiar diseases of the neighbourhood are pulmonary diseases. Pulmonary
consumption, asthma, and the various allied complaints will be found, I have
no doubt, by consulting the tables Mr. Scriven proposes to provide from the
register-books, to be exceedingly fatal here.
The effects these produce in the
offspring, improper food, and the exposed situation of the town, will account
for the great mortality amongst infants.
The neighbourhood is less liable to
accidents of a serious nature than most other manufacturing neighbourhoods,
from the circumstance that machinery is scarcely used in the processes.
occurring in the, coal-pits are frequently very fatal.
The number of children
accidentally burnt I consider to be frightfully great. The carelessness of
parents is the grand cause. Amongst those of a secondary nature may be
mentioned, the intense heat produced by the common coal of the neighbourhood,
the practice of having very large house-fires, the frequent want of fenders,
and the absence of mothers in the manufactories.
The open mouths of coal-mines
worked out are another occasional source of accidents here.
Besides exposure to too great heat, the
ventilation of workshops is very imperfect in many cases; whilst in the kilns,
during the baking of the ware, draughts of cold air rush in with great
impetuosity, and tend, like so many other parts of the process, to render those
exposed to them liable to catarrhs.
In conclusion I may add, as the result of my observation from a residence of
17 years in this town, during which time I have practised as a surgeon, that
children are sometimes cruelly overworked, in the process of plate-making
especially, and that in other labours, and in the collieries, they are exposed
to very unhealthy occupations.
They also suffer greatly from the improvident
and intemperate habits of their parents. In such cases their clothing is
defective, and especially towards the end of each week their food very scanty.
Their education is exceedingly imperfect, and the religious instruction they
receive ought to be much more contemplate in the department of morals.
(Signed) J. B. DAVIS, Surgeon.
H. HARDING, (Medical Officer) report on Hanley
No 2. Hanley, Staffordshire, December 28, 1840
THE district in which I have acted for many years as medical officer, consists
of a large manufacturing town with upwards of 20,000 inhabitants, together with
a rural district of considerable extent, not so thickly populated.
The condition of the working classes, when trade is good, is not so bad as
will found to be the case in other localities of equal extent and population.
To this remark, however; there will be some exceptions, and at the present
time, the poor inhabitants are suffering severely from want of employment, and
many of them are in very destitute situations.
The prevailing diseases here are asthma, consumption, bronchitis (acute and
chronic) pneumonia, hepatitis, dropsy, palsy, and rheumatism. These are of
course exclusive of the diseases of infants, such as croup, scarlatina, measles,
Febrile diseases are by no means prevalent here (speaking comparatively), the
synochus biliosa the most common. The constant decomposition of coal in large
quantities, and of a great variety of mineral substances, may be one cause of
this unfrequent occurrence of the above-mentioned complaints.
These causes, on
the other hand, have a great tendency to produce and to aggravate all
affections of the organs of respiration, and in some measure to account for
the great prevalence of those diseases I have already pointed out.
There is one existing nuisance in the neighbourhood, which in my opinion loudly
calls for the interference of the proper authorities. I allude to the neglected
state of some of the coal pits, which are not now in use. It is true that some
of them are guarded by a circular wall 10 or 12 feet high, which renders them
comparatively safe; but many others remain without any fence or protection
whatever; accidents have sometimes arisen from this cause, and it is to be
feared a repetition of such is more than probable, unless some means are adopted
for rendering them more secure.
I am not aware that there
is any thing particularly calculated to produce disease amongst children, in
the manufacture of earthenware and porcelain nor are their hours of labour so
very long, as to preclude the possibility of their taking sufficient exercise
out of doors.
I have, &c.
H. HARDING, Medical Officer
F.L.S., (Surgeon) report on Stoke-on-Trent
No. 3. Stoke-upon-Trent, January 1,1841.
OF the injurious effects produced by the nature of their employment, upon the
health of the working class of this district, I believe that those owing to the
noxious properties of lead continue among the most deleterious. But complaints
owing to this cause I believe to be less common and less severe than formerly,
owing, I think, to attention to ventilation, &c., on the part of the
masters, to greater cleanliness and the less frequent use of spirituous drinks
on the part of the work-people, and to the difference of chemical composition
which has taken place in the glazes, alkaline substances having to a great
extent taken the place of metallic.
The effects produced on the system by the action of lead are well known, and
as such are occasionally seen in all their forms in this district, but I
believe them to be sometimes exaggerated by some of the sufferers themselves,
for the object of exciting commiseration or obtaining relief.
believe, that epileptic symptoms are likewise not uncommon, and such,
accompanied with a low nervous fever, have in a few cases for some time
I should think that much good might result from a scientific inquiry into this
subject. It is generally admitted that it is unsafe to work in the lead before
eating in the morning. Plain printed directions respecting cleanliness, &c.,
might be given to the work-people and placed in work-rooms.
From the occasional use of purgative medicines, such as castor-oil, the
alkaline sulphates (particularly if the sulphate of lead is in reality found
to be innocuous) and the phosphate of soda I should anticipate advantage.
servant in this place took in mistake about an ounce of extract of lead. She
had not any unpleasant symptom, though there was reason to believe that the
stomach was not well emptied. The above saline remedies were plentifully
administered, and apparently with the best effect.
The operation of scouring china, from the flint with which it is covered in the
biscuit oven, I believe to be injurious to those employed in it. I have seen
consumption which appeared to be properly attributable to this cause. I should
think that, by proper measures, these effects might likewise to some extent be
I an not informed if children are employed in any number in scouring china. I
have several times seen them suffering under the effects of lead.
Children are much employed in rooms heated to a high temperature. They, however,
do not stay long in them, but are generally in a cooler room adjoining. They are
apt to throw off their clothing and sometimes walk a considerable distance home
in the cold air, in this half-clothed state. I have seen inflammation of the
chest and likewise croup in these children.
The operation of dusting on the coloured grounds on china is prejudicial. I do
not know children are at all employed in this department I do not know that
the work-people are commonly acquainted with the degree of danger attending
the use of each colour, and the poisonous or non-poisonous nature of them has
not, as far as I know, been investigated.
A great cause of the mortality amongst young children, particularly infants, in
this district (though not at all connected with the nature of the employment) is
the neglect of them, in many instances, from their mother's being obliged, from
necessity, or in some cases choosing, without such necessity, to absent
themselves at their work for several hours, or even for the whole day, and
committing them to the care of hired attendants, in whom, of course, it would be
too much to expect the cares and attentions of the mother herself.
The above is all I have observed pernicious to any extent in the manufacture
of this district, a manufacture which appears to me, on the whole; very free
from injurious effects on the human system
I am, &c
ROBERT GARNER, F.L.S., Surgeon
Report on Longton
AGREEABLY to your request, I send you a few remarks relative to the state of
health of the working classes; as connected with locality and employment, in
this district of the Staffordshire potteries, in which I have resided; as a
medical practitioner, during the last 26 years.
This town, Lane End; or Longton, is supposed to contain a population of about
12,000, and is chiefly situated on a gentle acclivity with good drainage. It
is plentifully supplied with excellent water, conveyed in pipes from
reservoirs about a mile distant, belonging to the Duke of Sutherland:
rent-charge of this indispensable article is moderate, being about 1½p per
week to each house occupied by the labouring classes. Coal is also plentiful
and tolerably cheap. An abundant supply of these two requisites conduces
greatly to the health and comfort of the poor.
Although the district, abounding in coal and therefore having a clay subsoil, is
humid, I am not aware that the inhabitants suffer from any peculiar disease
arising from locality, nor do I think that the mortality is greater here, than
in other manufacturing districts.
If any exception, however, were made to the correctness of the foregoing
remarks, as to disease, it would be with reference to consumption, which
occasions a great proportion of the deaths that occur.
Several circumstances seem to contribute to the prevalence of this disease; viz,
the humidity of the air; the great vicissitudes of temperature to which some of
the work-people are exposed in their employment; and the injurious effects which
one or two branches have upon the pulmonary organs. Most of the workshops are
well ventilated, but the heat of some of them, is raised much beyond the healthy
Much of the evil produced by the sudden transition from heat to cold,
might, however, be obviated by flannel clothing being worn next the skin, and by
more cautions conduct on the part of the individuals themselves with respect to
unnecessary exposure to cold; but an improvement so palpable, will never be
effected, I fear, until the working classes are better informed as to the best
means of preserving health.
The scouring of china, being a very injurious employment, claims peculiar
attention. The ware, in the clay state, is placed, during the process of
firing, in pulverized flint, from which it is afterwards cleaned by what is
termed "scouring." The "scourers", chiefly young women,
necessarily inhale, the room being literally filled with dust, the fine
particles of flint, which produce similar effects to what is provincially
denominated, in the Sheffield trade, "the grinder's rot;" something might be done, perhaps, to lessen this evil, if judicious
precautionary measures were adopted.
I have suggested the use of a wet sponge, so adapted to the mouth and nostrils
that the air of respiration must necessarily pass through it. This would
effectually prevent any solid body; however impalpable might be its state,
from being inspired; but, at present, whether arising from the novelty of the
plan, the trifling trouble which its adoption would occasion, or from the
individuals for whose benefit it is intended being careless of the impending
danger, I have not been able to get the experiment tried.
"Slip making", or preparing the clay, is another unwholesome
occupation. "The clay" is prepared by boiling the composition to a
proper consistence on kilns, and during the process of evaporation, the room is
filled with dense aqueous vapour. The men engaged in this branch suffer severely
from winter cough and chronic bronchitis; and but few of them, if they survive,
are able to perform much labour after the age of 60.
"Glazing the ware" is another branch which also injures health, and frequently shortens
All glazes contain more or less carbonate of lead, which renders, "dipping", or "glazing", a pernicious occupation. Men employed in
this department, are subject to colic, epilepsy, and paralysis of the fore-arms,
which incapacitates them from labour.
As the "dippers", however, only require the first and second fingers,
with the thumb of each hand, to be denuded while dipping, to enable them to
finger the ware, something might probably be done to diminish the risk of
paralysis; and with this view I have recommended the use of long-sleeved gloves,
impermeable to water, which would limit the portion of skin exposed to the
action of the glaze within very narrow bounds and thereby lessen the danger from
absorption. But, as in the case of the "china scourers", I have not
been able to give effect to the suggestion.
I beg to add that if any of the foregoing observations should assist in
furthering the benevolent object of the Commissioners, I shall be much
gratified in having made the communication. I am, &c.