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What was public health like in 19th Century Britain?

Health and the People>Improvements in Public Health>What was public health like in 19th Century Britain?

The industrial revolution began in the 18th century. Lots of people moved into cities like London to work in the factories. The places they lived in were cramped and dirty, great for spreading diseases like cholera.

  • During the 18th and 19th centuries, lots of people moved from the countryside to the cities to work in factories. The towns grew so quickly that good housing couldn’t be built fast enough. Houses were built as close together as possible, with little outside space and poor ventilation.
  • Overcrowding was a big problem. Workers had little money so tried to live in the smallest possible space. This meant families, often with 4 or more children, lived in a single room. The poorest would live in cellars.
  • People didn’t understand the need for clean water or good sewage systems. Most houses had no bathroom, instead they shared a toilet outside, called a privy.
  • Each privy was built above a cesspit. Cesspit and household waste was collected by nightmen, who threw the waste into rivers or piled it up for the rain to wash away.
  • Water companies set up water pumps which were shared between houses. The water was often contaminated.

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