I love Gateshead, it has dirty streets and human waste on the streets, lovely!

Public Health

During the 1800s people moved to the new cities in search of work. Housing was built quickly. It was often badly built with no fresh water or sewerage. Councils didn’t help as this would cost money which would have to be raised from taxes. The arrival of cholera had the unexpected benefit of councils, for the first time, having to improve the standard of living in its cities, this is known as public health.


A Board of Health

has therefore, with the concurrence and Assistance of the Magistrates of this District, been established in Gateshead.

The Board, in commencing its duties, feels anxious to call the attention of the inhabitants to the fact (confirmed by all the communications received from abroad) that in every town where cholera has prevailed it has been the most virulent, and has spread the most rapidly and extensively in those Districts where the least attention has been paid to cleanliness and ventilation; and those persons who have been addicted to drinking Spiritous Liquors, and to irregular and intemperate habits, have been the greatest sufferers. The Board therefore feels, that it cannot too strongly impress the necessity of extreme cleanliness, free ventilation and temperate habits.

All kinds of putrid matter, decayed vegetables and filth of every description, should be removed, walls of houses and passages should be washed with hot lime, and the greatest attention should be paid to the cleanliness of the house. Free and continued admission of fresh air, to all parts of the house and furniture, is most essential. With respect to the important points of cleanliness and ventilation, the Board addresses itself more particularly

to the female inhabitants

of the town, as the internal regulations of the house, are under their peculiar management; and the Board calls upon them, as they regard the health and lives of their families, to give their powerful assistance towards preserving the general health.

The Board has established District Committees, who are particularly directed to enforce the removal of filth and nuisances of every description, and those persons who may neglect to remove the same, will be punished as the law directs.


  1. Read the source carefully, why do you think this poster is addressed to the female inhabitants?
  2. Which two reasons did the Local Board of Health give for dividing Gateshead up into district committees?
    1. To build sewerage systems
    2. Remove filth and nuisances (human waste)
    3. Provide lime for cleaning houses
    4. Provide dustbins for household rubbish
    5. To lay tarmac roads

Did you know?

British doctor John Snow was the first person to identify that dirty water was the cause of cholera in 1854.

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