Regent’s Canal Railway. The most important Private Bill introduced this Session affecting this Parish is the Regent’s Canal City and Docks Railway Bill. The object of this Bill is to obtain power to construct a railway for the most part by the side of the present Regent’s Canal, to extend from Paddington and a junction with the Great Western Railway, to the Albert Docks, near North Woolwich, with a City terminus in Barbican, and junctions with the Midland and Great Northern Railways.
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Only one bridge leading to or from the Parish is to be stopped or obstructed at one time, and in all cases a temporary foot bridge is to be provided during the reconstruction. There are other clauses for securing the execution of the works affecting roads and sewers, under the superintendence of the Vestry’s Surveyor, and the making good all damage for the protection of the public against danger, as far as possible, from the noise and smoke of passing trains, and for the making good of local rates, dining construction, upon property to be taken.
DANGEROUS RAILWAY BRIDGES.
Among the many subjects which have occupied the Board’s attention, although, perhaps, more of a local than a general character, may be mentioned the Bridges carrying Railways over Roads in the District, particularly two in Lewisham. The noise occasioned by passing trains has, upon several occasions, alarmed horses, and accidents have occurred in consequence. The Board have brought the matter before the Railway Company by letter, and specially by deputation, and have also been in communication with the Board of Trade thereon, but they have not yet succeeded in obtaining any improvement.
The Board, after careful consideration and after receiving Memorials from Ratepayers upon the subject, determined to oppose the Bill of the South Eastern Railway Company, unless the Company would agree to increase the width of the proposed new bridges in the District, and also would, in constructing the proposed widenings, so reconstruct the bridges in Loampit Vale and High Street, Lewisham, as to deaden the noise caused by trains passing over them, which noise had in the past caused frequent accidents; and would also agree to erect a station on their main line at or near High Street, Lewisham. Station accommodation on the Main Line had long been demanded by the public, and the Board were strongly urged by public meetings and otherwise to insist upon this being provided.
The Company refused to entertain any proposal with regard to these improvements, and the Board had, consequently, to petition against the Bill and oppose the same before a Committee of the House of Commons, when, after a lengthened struggle, clauses were inserted in the Bill compelling the Company to considerably widen the bridges before referred to, in some cases to double them; also compelling them, in all new bridges, to make them water-tight and noiseless, as far as possible, and in addition, a Parliamentary undertaking was given by the Counsel for the Railway Company that a station should be erected on their main line so soon as the widenings should be opened, somewhere between the High Street, Lewisham, and the fork of the Railway near Hither Green Lane.
With reference to the danger and nuisance to the public cause by the noise from the Borough Road Bridge of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway Company’s line, although numerous letters have been sent to the Company requesting them to adopt some means prevent the noise, nothing further has been done by them than the removal of the corrugated iron ceiling from under the bridge, and the decking and corking of the surface of the bridge, this has the effect of preventing the percolation of water on to the road and footways, but the noise still continues. I have suggested among other methods the adoption of longitudinal sleepers in place of the cross ones, but the Company’s Engineer is of opinion this plan will not be of much service. Other railway bridges of equal span are comparatively noiseless. I would suggest that unless the Company adopt some effectual method without delay to prevent the noise, the Vestry proceed against the Company by indictment, as accidents are of daily occurrence.
The Great Eastern Railway Company have fixed screens under the bridges at Stepney Station, Blount Street, and Brenton Street, to prevent drippings therefrom. Screens have also been fixed under the platforms in York Road. With the view of lessening the noise caused by passing trains, the Company have fixed felt under the sleepers of the bridge crossing Salmon Lane.
A letter was received from the London County Council stating that it had been decided to endeavour to get clauses inserted in all Bills promoted by Railway Companies with a view to requiring the Companies among other matters to make all their bridges watertight, and to make provision for deadening as far as possible the noise of passing trains. The Council asked the Board to do all they could to second the Council’s efforts, and the Board replied that they would be pleased to Co-operate for the purpose referred to.
Early in the year the Vestry received a letter from the County Council, stating that their attention has several times been called by local authorities and others to the condition of many of the railway bridges over thoroughfares in London. Some of the bridges are so wide that the thoroughfare under them is darkened for a considerable distance, and many of them are by no means watertight; and the Council were of opinion that considerable improvement might be effected if the railway companies were required by law to make all their bridges watertight, to provide openings between old and new portions of widened bridges, to face the walls underneath the bridges with white glazed bricks or tiles, and to make provisions for deadening, as far as possible, the noise of passing trains; and the Council stated that they had resolved to endeavour to get clauses for these purposes inserted in all bills promoted by railway companies, and would be glad if the various local authorities would do all they could to second the Council’s efforts. The Vestry replied that they approved of the action of the Council, and would be willing to assist in the matter as far as possible.
Report on correspondence with the London County Council
Q. As to suggesting regulations for the further suppression of street cries, railway whistles, and other objectionable and unnecessary noises, within the County of London?
A. We are of opinion that these are matters which more particularly concern the police, who ought to have authority to enforce such regulations as may be considered necessary.
It is required by a memorandum of the L.G.B. that I inform you of all matters affecting, or likely to affect, the health of the inhabitants, either collectively or as individuals. I desire to briefly refer to a few of the oft recurring and ever-increasing sources of nerve irritation in our midst. Those that we find in the home, whether due to the constant reaction of married folk upon each other, to chronic ill-health, to servants, or other domestic worry, we cannot control, though we may be frequently and painfully aware of their existence, but those that are thrust upon us from without we can or ought to be able to check, or certainly to regulate or diminish.
I refer to the number of petty annoyances that keep us perpetually on the alert night and day, such as street calls and shouting, whether during the day or at the closing of the public houses, loud, vulgar, insane choruses by half drunken men in vans and brakes, especially on Sunday nights along the main road, the majority coming from the direction of Harrow and the regions beyond, vulgar horse play by lads at or near the station at night, perpetual barking of dogs often all night, especially in Ranelagh Road, epidemic of organ grinders in our streets, fiercely shrill and apparently unnecessary whistling from the railway engines of fast trains approaching or passing through Wembley, add to these a chime of eight bells if not actually discordant, certainly in no way melodious, and you have a few of the noisy nuisances that we could so easily do without.
I happen to know a number of nervous people who have come purposely to reside here to be away from the bustle and noise of the great city, to enjoy the quiet and the semi-rural character of the place, to do their gardening or to read in peace, and go to bed at nine or ten, but who often find it impossible or difficult, when even night is made horrid with these nuisances. I suggest that the County Council bye-laws be more rigidly enforced, that the mounted police wait upon the blackguards on the vans, that the Railway Companies be asked to be less vindictive with their whistling, that some concerted action be taken to reduce the number of street organs, householders patronising only one a week instead of three in the space of a few hundred yards, as was seen in Wembley a few days ago. I feel that many of these nuisances could be abolished, and I am sure you will not regard these matters as too trivial for your notice when you come to consider my report in detail.
Leighton Crescent is controlled by a Committee of the adjoining residents, and the Secretary is Mr. Blunton, of No. 6, Leighton Crescent, N.W. The Crescent, Euston Street, is owned by the London and North Western Railway Company. The enclosed Gardens adjoining Regent’s Park Terrace and Maitland Park Villas, are owned by adjoining owners of land, and are maintained by them.
It is to be observed that in their effect upon the atmosphere and the population the two classes of open spaces produce opposite results. The open spaces planted with herbage, flowering plants, shrubs, and trees purify and cleanse the atmosphere, and afford the means of recreating and recruiting the health of the people surrounding them, and the only noises heard within them are the piping sounds of children’s voices.
The open spaces devoted to railway purposes are bare of vegetation and from them proceed the smoke of railway engines, the clanking of shunting trucks, the rumbling of trains, the vibration of heavy moving weights, the explosions of fog signals, shrill whistlings, and other disturbances of matter immensely conducive to the activities of the nation, but not to the health of the people immediately surrounding. In addition they form large enclosed areas inaccessible to the public, and obstructive to local traffic, transit, and inter-communication.
What contribution outside the Parliamentary Acts of the Railway Companies does the nation make towards the health and well-being of the local community subjected to these ills, for the nation’s welfare?
[Regarding the Camberwell dustheaps]
To sum up, therefore, we can unhesitatingly say that from investigation of the siding itself, of Constance Road Infirmary, and of the houses in the neighbourhood we are entirely unconvinced of any nuisance to the Infirmary beyond a purely æsthetic one. One can well imagine that the shunting of the trucks at night, the noise of the men carrying out the work, and the disturbance of the privacy of the grounds may well constitute an obstacle to the amenities of their use and an annoyance to the Infirmary staff, but beyond this we emphatically refuse to go.
APPENDIX J. For the consideration of the Health Committee (14/10/30).
L.M.S. RAILWAY SIDING—HARLEY ROAD. COMPLAINT OF NOISE AND DUST FROM MECHANICAL TIPPING APPARATUS.
MEMORANDUM BY THE MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH.
(1) The site of operations and the complainants have been visited frequently since the 10th September, 1930, by the District Sanitary Inspector, on several occasions by the Chief Sanitary Inspector, while I myself have also visited.
(2) The mechanical tipping apparatus in question is in the Urban District of Acton and approximately 150 yards south of the nearest property in Harley Road.
(3) The complainants are residents in Harley Road and neighbourhood.
(4) The apparatus is used for filling the tenders of railway locomotives with coal. The process is as follows :— (a) A loaded coal waggon is put under a waterspray and the coal is sprayed until the water runs out of the floor of the waggon. (b) The waggon is pushed on to the weighbridge and weighed. (c) A lifting gear raises the waggon and part of the weighbridge to a height of about 40 feet. (d) At the top the waggon is tilted, the contents falling into a hopper. (e) The waggon is lowered. (f) The tenders of the engines are fed from the hopper.
(5) The noise complained of arises from the tilting of the waggon and the coal falling into the hopper.
(6) The dust complained of also arises from the same cause.
(7) There is no doubt that noise is associated with the operation as described. This noise is mainly caused by the coal being tilted from the waggon into the hopper. Comparatively little noise arises from the filling of the tenders from the hopper and as this latter operation takes place at a height of only about 10-12 feet, dust is not likely to reach the adjoining property in Harley Road as a building about 20 feet high intervenes.
(8) Neither the District Sanitary Inspector, the Chief Sanitary Inspector nor myself have been able to verify the complaint that dust blows from the apparatus towards the Harley Road area. No high winds, however, have been blowing from that direction on the days on which visits have been made, and in addition some of the days have been wet.
(9) Assuming, however, that the complaints both as to noise and as to dust are capable of legal proof, the question arises as to what powers the Council possess for dealing with two such nuisances.
(10) As to noise. The only power possessed by the Council is that given by Section 56 of the Middlesex County Council Act of 1930. To prove a noise under this Section, it is necessary to prove all of the following propositions :— (a) that the noise is either excessive or unreasonable or unnecessary ; (b) that the noise is injurious or dangerous to health, and (c) that the noise is capable of being prevented or mitigated, having due regard to all the circumstances of the case.
(11) It is a good defence that the best practicable means of preventing or mitigating the noise having regard to the cost, have been adopted. (N.B.—the provisions of Section 56 of the Middlesex County Council Act, 1930, do not apply to the carrying on of an undertaking authorised by an Act of Parliament or by an order confirmed by or having the force of an Act of Parliament).