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.
This vehicle has had so much work that it is becoming shaky. The noise and rattling and the vibration are most trying to the patients, especially in Enteric. It is very desirable that improvements that have recently been introduced for these conveyances should be added so as to bring it in accordance with modern ideas.
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?
Nuisance from Garages and Motor Cars.
The Public Health Committee will shortly have to consider the important question of how to deal with the serious complaints of nuisance incidental to the Motor Car industry. There are several garages in the district in which cars are stored, charged with petrol, cleaned, repaired, and the engines started to see that each cylinder beats in proper time and that all is in order; during this operation, more especially if the crank chamber is full of oil, or if the engine is dirty, there is considerable smell, and more or less noise. In one case the occupiers of adjoining premises have laid a formal complaint by petition, and there is not the slightest doubt that there is nuisance — nuisance that is inseparable from the industry, and one difficult to deal with without seriously interfering with a growing and important trade.
It is the writer’s opinion that all garages of the kind should have a special shed or room in which to start the engines; any architect could design by means of double walls a practically noise-proof shed; there would also have to be a flue with good draught carrying the waste gases away to the height of the highest chimneys in the neighbourhood. This means a considerable expenditure of money, but when any person establishes a new, noisy, and intermittently offensive business in densely populous localities, he must either spend money in minimising any nuisance incidental to the business, or run the risk of having his business entirely prohibited.
The Borough Council has also made the following by-laws under the provisions of the Municipal Corporations Act, 1882, the Local Government Act, 1888, and the London Government Act, 1899:—
Noise from Organs connected with Shows, &c. No person shall, in connection with any show, roundabout, exhibition, or performance held or placed on any vacant ground adjoining or near to a street, make or cause or permit or suffer to be made, any loud or continuous noise by means of any organ or other similar instrument to the annoyance or disturbance of residents, and any person offending against this by-law shall, on summary conviction, be liable for the first offence to a penalty not exceeding forty shillings, and for every subsequent offence to a penalty not exceeding £5.
Noisy Hawking. No person shall, for the purpose of hawking, selling, or advertising any goods, call or shout in any street, so as to cause annoyance to the inhabitants of the neighbourhood. Any person who shall offend against the foregoing by-law shall be liable, for every such offence, to a fine not exceeding forty shillings.
BY-LAWS FOR THE GOOD RULE AND GOVERNMENT OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE COUNTY OF LONDON.
By-Laws made by the London County Council in pursuance of the provisions of Section 23 of the Municipal Corporations Act, 1882, and Section 16 of the Local Government Act, 1888. By-Laws made on 19th July, 1898.
Steam Organs, Shooting Galleries, Roundabouts, &c. No person shall in any street or on any land adjoining or near thereto, use or play, or cause to be used or played, any steam organ or other musical instrument worked by mechanical means to the annoyance or disturbance of residents or passengers. No person shall in any street or on any land adjoining or near thereto, keep or manage, or cause to be kept or managed, a shooting gallery, swing boat, roundabout, or any other construction of a like character, so as to cause obstruction or danger to the traffic of any such street.
Noisy Animals. No person shall keep within any house, building or premises, any noisy animal which shall be or cause a serious nuisance to residents in the neighbourhood. Provided that no proceedings shall be taken against any person for an offence against this by-law until after the expiration of a fortnight from the date of the service on such person of a notice alleging a nuisance, signed by not less than three householders residing within hearing of the animal.
Street Betting. No person shall frequent and use any street or other public place on behalf, either of himself or of any other person, for the purpose of bookmaking or betting, or wagering, or agreeing to bet or wager, with any person, or paying, or receiving, or settling bets.
Penalty. Any person who shall offend against any of the foregoing by-laws shall be liable for every such offence to a fine not exceeding forty shillings, except in the case of the by-law relating to street betting, the fine for the breach of which shall be an amount not exceeding £5.
Miscellaneous Nuisances abated, with Localities.
Effluvia and Noise from Motor Omnibuses — New Kent road.
Practically the whole of the property required for the widening of thoroughfares for the electrical tramways from Wandsworth to Tooting via York Road, Garratt Lane and Defoe Road, has now been acquired by the London County Council, the Borough Council assisting in several cases by putting in force its compulsory powers under Michael Angelo Taylor’s Act.
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At the instance of the Borough Council, the part of the road between the tramway rails has been paved with wood in front of churches and other public buildings in order to lessen the noise of the traffic.
TRAMWAY TERMINUS, UXBRIDGE ROAD. The Borough Council has had the question of regulating admission to the tramcars at this terminus under consideration, and a number of schemes to meet the difficulty were prepared by the Borough Surveyor, but it has not been found possible to carry out any of the schemes.
TRAMWAY TRACKS. In consequence of complaints of the bad state of the tramway tracks, they were inspected by the Borough Surveyor, who submitted a report upon the condition of the same, with a schedule of defective places in the wood paving, maintainable by the Tramway Company. It was found on inspection, that many of the joints of the rails were defective, apparently caused by the giving way of the fish plates, and consequently when the cars pass over these places, the ends of the rails deflect and cause the noise which is a source of complaint.
Nuisances from Motor Vehicles.
The attention of the Borough Council having been directed to the serious nuisances occasioned to residents in the Borough, more particularly to those whose premises front the main thoroughfares, by the noise, smoke, smell and oil emitted from motor vehicles, the Council made urgent representations to the Commissioner of Police thereon; and was represented at a conference of Metropolitan Borough Councils, at which a series of resolutions was passed which were submitted to the Home Secretary, the President of the Local Government Board, and the Commissioner of Police, urging the desirability of early effect being given to such resolutions, by legislation or otherwise. It is understood that these Authorities are giving the matter careful consideration.
Charlwood Road, Widening
The London County Council having acquired a site for Charlwood Road a school at the corner of Charlwood Road and Hotham Road, Putney, the Borough Council in October last asked the County Council, when arranging for building the school, to make provision for the widening of Charlwood Road to not less than 40 feet.
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The Borough Council regrets that although the attention of the County Council was called to the matter so long ago as October last, arrangements were not made for the building to be so erected that the road could be widened to 40 feet, and that while the Borough Council was negotiating for the acquisition of the necessary land the County Council proceeded to erect the school in such a position as to prevent the negotiations being carried to a satisfactory conclusion and even to prevent the carrying into effect of the resolution passed by the County Council itself in May last agreeing to the Borough Council’s proposal. Moreover, from the point of view of convenience to teachers and scholars, it was undesirable that the buildings should be erected so near the public highway, as the noise of the traffic will considerably interfere with the education of the children. The question of the extent to which the road can be widened is still under consideration.
That this Council is of opinion that, owing to the increasing number of accidents caused by motor traffic in the County of London, the maximum speed of all motor vehicles should be reduced to, at most, 12 miles an hour ; and, owing to the serious annoyance and discomfort caused by excessive noise, vibration, etc., the police should be granted enlarged powers to control this class of traffic.
[. . .] In the fourth case, the exhaust outlet of a large gas engine was affixed to a factory wall in the rear of dwelling houses. The extension of the exhaust pipe obviated the nuisance caused by the noise and fumes.
It is not out of place, I think, to refer to the work of laying slag-tar on some of the roads, notably in the neighbourhood of Haven Green and the Grove. This marks a great advance upon the ordinary road-making, and although it involves a slightly higher initial cost, in my opinion, as your Medical Officer, I am convinced that this is amply compensated for by more economical upkeep, a great diminution in the dust nuisance, more effective cleansing, and a lessening of noise.
BOARD’S SCHEDULE OF MEDICAL INSPECTION. No change has been made in the schedule, which was adopted in its entirety. Speaking generally, the use of this schedule has been much the same as in 1908. The duty cast upon Local Authorities by the Education (Administrative Provisions) Act, 1907, is to provide for the medical inspection of children attending schools, and anything like a complete examination has only been made when the history or the general appearance of the child indicated the necessity for so doing.
As mentioned in my last report, only quite a superficial inspection is possible in some of the schools, as there is no spare room in which the necessary privacy and freedom from noise can be secured for a more thorough examination of the children.
Special precautions to be observed when cases of Scarlet Fever, Diphtheria, Typhoid or other infectious diseases are nursed at home.
3.— The patient should be isolated in a well-ventilated room, situated as far from the noises of the house and street as possible, and no one except the person acting as nurse should be allowed to enter the room.