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).
Section 66 of the London County Council (General Powers) Act, 1937, provides that a noise nuisance may be dealt with summarily under the Public Health (London) Act, 1936. In securing attention to this provision the temporary streets nuisance inspector rendered valuable assistance, and also co-operated with the police in regard to complaints relating to street musicians, noisy hawkers, etc. During the year, five complaints were received relating to nuisance from wireless loudspeakers, gramophones and similar instruments. In each instance abatement of the nuisance was secured without the service of formal notice. Early in the year complaints were received of noise and disturbance caused by the violent slamming of doors of motor vehicles. The attention of taxicab and car drivers was drawn to the matter by the display of the following poster at cab ranks and garages:—
BOROUGH OF ST. MARYLEBONE. NOISE. Nuisance From Motor Vehicles.
The Borough Council receive many complaints of the noise and disturbance caused by the violent slamming of doors of motor vehicles, and have been urged to take action with a view of preventing the nuisance. Drivers and users of motor-cars and taxicabs are particularly requested to show consideration for others by reducing the occasions for closing car doors and to avoid slamming as far as possible.
Town Hall, CHARLES PORTER, St. Marylebone, W.1. Medical Officer of Health.
Publicity was also given to the matter in the Press and as a result of this and the co-operation of garage proprietors and others concerned with cars it may be hoped that some mitigation of the door-slamming nuisance has been secured. The Council continue to subscribe to the funds of the Anti-Noise League.
NOISE. In last year’s report I mentioned 8 sources of preventable noise, which is becoming generally recognised as a factor in ill health. I am glad to note that the Council has made a bye-law to deal with one of these causes — unduly loud public radio instruments.
NOISE. I regret to report no progress in dealing with preventable noise, now generally recognised as conducive to ill health. Complaints are frequently made by residents of loud and persistent noises at all hours of the day and sometimes at night, with consequent loss of sleep and injury to nerves. In the absence of definite legislation extending the public health expression “nuisance” to cover such evils it is difficult to take any useful action.
NOISE. I regret to report no progress in dealing with preventable noise, now generally recognised as conducive to ill health. During the year, complaint was made on two occasions by the residents in a street in the Borough of excessive noise from a factory, particularly at night. Representations made led to some improvement. It is obvious that there is need for further legislation extending the public health expression “nuisance” to cover loud and persistent noises in proximity to dwelling houses.
NOISE. I regret to report no progress in dealing with preventable noise, now generally recognised as conducive to ill health. Complaints continue to be received about this evil. Apart from unnecessarily loud street noises, industrial processes are frequently carried on regardless of the hearing and nerves of the workpeople and residents in the vicinity. When, as sometimes happens, work is carried on at rush periods late into the night, children and adults, who have to rise early, and who are compelled by the housing shortage to five in the neighbourhood, are deprived of proper sleep. They naturally apply to the Public Health Department for assistance, and quite rightly, cannot understand our apparent helplessness or how the law can be so stupid as not to recognise as a “nuisance” something which is at least as bad as a bad smell in its effect upon health.
Noise from the Use of Rock Drills in Street Works.
The Council on the 20th July, 1933, referred the question of noise caused by the use of rock drills in street works to the Works and Public Health, &c., Committees for consideration and report. The Medical Officer of Health reported upon the subject to the Committees concerned and as the matter is of public interest his report is fully set out:— The Use of Rock Drills in Street Works and the Effect of their Noise on the Health of the People.
1. This matter is part of a reference from the Council at its meeting on 20th July last. The whole reference was made to the Works Committee which was instructed to consult with the Public Health Committee as to the aspect outlined at the head of this report. It is now understood that the Works Committee wish to be favoured with the views of the Public Health Committee.
2. It is unfortunately true that increasing noise seems to be a natural accompaniment of changing conditions particularly in cities and towns, but even in rural areas murmurs of complaint are being heard because of the motor traffic which rends the silence of the night. During the past few months The Times newspaper has given liberal opportunity for expression of opinion on the harmful effects of noise on health and from many authoritative quarters has come an appeal to mitigate or to prevent this menace. Thus has arisen a definite movement of public opinion now organised in a society called the Anti-Noise League, which numbers among its members many distinguished men and women including leading physicians and surgeons.
3. So far as can be gathered the activities of this League are directed against such noises as arise from motor vehicles, the handling of milk churns, church bells and others more or less of a chronic character. Very little attention has been given to the much more acute and violent noise from rock drills which is necessarily periodic, but constant during the operation of these implements.
4. With regard to interference with health one should first examine the question as it affects work and rest. The interference is so obvious that it needs but little elaboration. Mental concentration, discussion and the normal transaction of business is almost impossible within 20 yards of these drills and of course the evil is magnified according to the number being operated. It has been alleged that loss of business has been experienced in shops and similar premises adjacent. In a neighbourhood of mixed business and residential buildings the factions struggle for privilege. The non-residents would prefer the drilling to proceed only at night while the residents indignantly retort that their sleep has the prior claim for respect. There can be little doubt that the over stimulation of the auditory sense organs leads to nervous exhaustion and impaired efficiency.
5. Interference with rest and sleep is of a more serious nature as an average healthy individual cannot work to the best advantage unless he obtains sufficient rest and sleep. If road drilling is carried on late at night or early in the morning near dwellings the residents arc bound to suffer. Those who are fortunate enough to be masters of their own time arrange to go on holiday or otherwise temporarily leave the district until road operations are over. For those who must remain at home this period is trying in the extreme. Usually road drilling docs not last longer than a week or two, but in special circumstances it may persist for months. During the recent summer in a certain street in Westminster, drilling continued every day except on Sundays and with two or three days of peace occasionally intervening from early in July until well into September; a series of small areas of the roadway were being explored. For those who are confined to their houses by illness, conditions are of course definitely serious. It requires but little imagination to appreciate that the recovery of a case of acute or serious illness might be jeopardised by the deprivation of rest and sleep and the exhaustion caused by constant vibratory noise.
6. During September the Medical Officer of Health took steps to investigate conditions at Westminster Hospital while street excavation was in progress. The Secretary of the Hospital hastened to assure the Medical Officer that the City Council had been most considerate of the interests of the Hospital and in consequence the latter did not wish to make any complaints. It was explained that it would be helpful if an unbiased statement on the effects of the noise then in progress could be obtained. The following is an extract from the report kindly supplied by the Resident Medical Officer dated 13th September, 1933:— ” At least half of the Hospital was practically sleepless for nights at a time. The chief sufferers were naturally those about to be operated upon and those whose operations had just been performed. At least two eases awaiting thyroidectomy suffered acutely, whilst the many cases of head injuries in the Casualty Ward were to be profoundly pitied. In fact, hospital treatment, medical and surgical, has been seriously interfered with. On one occasion a private patient insisted upon leaving the Hospital owing to the disturbance. Apart from the patients, I found the resident medical officers suffered considerably. As far as my own duties were concerned, my whole days and nights for about three weeks were never free from the noise of hammering, and I was constantly up at night trying to make things bearable. Please do not think I am making unnecessary complaints, but six automatic drills working in a line for hours at a time, filling the Surgery, the Wards, and the Resident Medical Officer’s Rooms with dust, has rendered life extremely unpleasant.” It will be noted that in addition to noise, dust is alluded to as a cause of nuisance.
7. The Medical Officer has consulted the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene as to the results of any investigations of the effects of rock drills on health. The former body is not concerned with health but expressed willingness to take up the question of research into the maintenance of roads and methods of repairs, &c.
8. The London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene has been keenly interested on the health aspect for some considerable time. Dr. Crowden, a member of the staff, has been working on the subject and has different types of these drills fitted up in his Laboratory with the stone and concrete medium in which they operate. His conclusions so far are briefly as follows:— (1) Among riveters and boilermakers incurable deafness develops in the course of time. A large proportion of the men arc affected and it is due to the concussions of sound and sudden changes of air pressure incidental to riveting in an enclosed space, e.g., between decks in a shipyard. Road drillers on the other hand work in the open and apparently are not subject to deafness. (2) Riveters and boilermakers suffer from the effects of vibration on their hands ; a chronic numbness is caused due to interference with the circulation. These effects were largely dependent on cold; coldness of the atmosphere and of the handles of the apparatus. In the ease of road workers the air conducted to the drills is conveyed in comparatively short pipes and is, therefore, not cooled in long transit. The handles are not cold and these road workers do not suffer from the disturbance of circulation mentioned above. Dr. Crowden has not yet investigated the medical records of hospitals to see whether there are any grounds for assuming that complaints of nervous or other diseases arc based on the occupation under discussion. 9. It is most important to observe that the workers themselves do not receive the main impact of the noise as the sound and percussion waves intensify as they impinge on any high stone buildings surrounding.
10. In his enquiries he found that the men greatly preferred the mechanical drills to the hand pick and hammer. In one. instance a body of men threatened to strike because they were asked to go back to the methods of using human energy. Several firms reported that with manual excavation their casualty rate increased noticeably; chipped hands, fragments lodging in the eyes and other injuries were not uncommon. That was the main reason for the men’s preference for the mechanical drills.
11. The use of silencers diminishes the intensity of vibration but also lessens the efficiency of the instrument. Therefore, in order to complete certain work within a given time it would require additional partially silenced drills for every single unsilenced one. More men would be required and the net result would prove of no advantage because those extra drills would cause quite as much noise as a single unsilenced drill.
12. Dr. Crowden has studied the methods of ear stopping used among gun crews in the Navy, and in shipyards and other industries, and showed various types with which he had experimented. One of the most efficient and certainly the cheapest is shown to the Committee. They ought to be distributed among those who are about to be subjected to the noise of road drilling in their close vicinity.
13. In December, 1929, the Medical Officer of Health reported on the prevention of noise in connection with a presentment from the Metropolitan Standing Joint Committee. Although the matter under present consideration is limited to ” rock drills,” yet it may be interesting to recall that no fewer than seven different sources of noise were enumerated on that occasion as being causes of complaint to the Public Health Department. He commented on the fact that the By-laws made by the City Council from time to time to control different types of noise nuisance had been of great public benefit; and the London County Council had also made by-laws for other sources of noise which had also been effective.
14. Since those days other and no less obnoxious noises have arisen and some local authorities, notably Edinburgh, have sought powers to prohibit certain noires. There is no doubt that sooner or later public opinion will demand some measure of relief from this growing nuisance. Summary. The noise caused by the use of rock drills :— (1) Interferes with the work, occupations, or other activities of those in close proximity to the scene of their operations. (2) Is definitely harmful to the sick and may even jeopardise the lives of those suffering from acute or dangerous illness. (3) Disturbs the rest and sleep of those living nearby and is in consequence prejudicial to, and in some cases, injurious to health. (4) Under existing conditions, and so far as can be ascertained at present, is not prejudicial to the health of those operating these instruments. (5) Usually lasts in any given locality but for a limited period say one or two weeks and this is an important point in mitigation. (6) Is preferred by the workers to hand driven methods of operation. (7) Is somewhat diminished by fitting silencers, but to make up for the resulting loss of efficiency more drills must be employed. (8) Can be lessened in intensity for the sufferers if they use ear stops. These could be distributed among patients and other susceptible individuals. (9) Is only one among the many which are causing much concern. A public movement has been organised to combat this menace to health and quietude. The Committee might sec fit to express an opinion that although the noise caused by the use of rock drills in street works may arise in any given locality for a period of only a few days and may not recur for several years, yet there is evidence that health may be injuriously affected thereby and requests the Works Committee to consider what steps should be taken to effect its diminution. The Council received the report of the Committees on the 14th December and resolved that representations be made to the appropriate Government Departments with a view to special research being undertaken for the reduction of noise caused by the use of rock drills in street works.
Noise.—Increased business in certain trades necessitated night-work being carried on pending the extension of the respective premises. Occupiers of nearby houses complained of the noises from machinery and considered the Local Authority should be in a position to regulate the periods during which work should be done and the machinery run. Section 56, Middlesex County Council Act, 1930, reads as follows:—
“Noise Nuisance—56.—(1) A noise nuisance shall be liable to be dealt with in accordance with the provisions relating to nuisances of the Public Health Act, 1875: Provided that no complaint shall be made to a justice under section 105 of the said Act unless it is signed by not less than three householders or occupiers of premises within the hearing of the noise nuisance complained of. (2) For the purposes of this section a noise nuisance shall be deemed to exist where any person makes or continues or causes to be made or continued any excessive or unreasonable or unnecessary noise and where such noise— (a) is injurious or dangerous to health; and (b) is capable of being prevented or mitigated having due regard to all the circumstances of the case: Provided that if the noise is occasioned in the course of any trade, business or occupation it shall be a good defence that the best practicable means of preventing or mitigating it having regard to the cost have been adopted. (3) The provisions of this section shall not extend or apply to the carrying on of an undertaking authorised by Act of Parliament or by an Order confirmed by or having the force of an Act of Parliament.”
As the noises complained of were not “excessive or unreasonable or unnecessary” and the “best practicable means,” etc., had been adopted, no legal action could be taken. The firms in question, however, continued night shifts only as long as was necessary to fulfil their contracts and with the minimum of night staff working.
A problem which is becoming more acute is that of noise. By this is not meant the inevitable increase in the ” background of noise ” which is part and parcel of increasing urbanisation, but the more specific causes of noise in so far as they affect health. Of particular concern to Southall is the noise from aeroplanes, especially at night time. Southall has two aerodromes, Hanworth and Heston, within a short distance, the latter being just over the boundary. It is stated that Heston will shortly increase greatly in its volume of traffic, and as advances are made there will undoubtedly be a great increase in the amount of night-flying. There is evidence to show that a mere background of noise, if excessive is injurious to health. Noise at such time and of such degree of intensity as to arouse sleepers and to keep them awake must be potentially even more injurious to health. Unfortunately all aeroplane constructive advance so far seems to have been in the direction of increased stability, speed and general efficiency ; very little has been done with regard to the suppression of excessive sound. Motor cars and motor cycles were at quite an early stage in their development subjected to restrictive legislation with regard to noise and it certainly seems desirable, if not essential in the interest of health, that aircraft too should be controlled in this way.
[A table in the report shows the public information posters displayed on a hoarding at the corner of Farnan Avenue and Forest Road. The one displayed during June 1934 was titled ‘No Needless Noise’ and was provided by the Anti-Noise League.]
NOISE. I again draw attention to the urgent need for legislation to deal with the growing evil of noise. In the streets, we have more and more mechanical vehicles of greater size and power and carrying heavier loads, to say nothing of street repairing machines and building operations. There are factories containing powerful machinery often worked until late in the evening. The housing shortage frequently compels families to live in close proximity to industrial buildings; and where loud processes are carried on at all hours of the night as well as during the day, life almost becomes intolerable. It is useless for the doctors and health visitors at the welfare centres to advise good habits of sleep, when the means of practising such habits is denied the parents. This barrage on our complex nervous system is not conducive to good health and temper and ought to be brought under stringent public restriction. The people who have become accustomed to turn to the Public Health Department for assistance in dealing with their health problems cannot understand our helplessness in the face of an obvious menace to health, and it is to be hoped that some definite action will be taken very soon to deal with the matter.
NOISE. I suppose there is no doubt that the nuisance of noise is detrimental to health — is positively harmful to the sensitive and nervous invalid. We know that the Anti-Noise League has a Committee sitting which is dealing with the social and scientific aspect of noise, with a view to early legislation. We shall all be anxious to see their final report. The unnecessary noises we are all suffering from are legion. Among them may be mentioned those due to inefficient silencers on sports cars and motor cycles—over these the police have some control, but only seldom exert it. The din outside offices produced by roller skating should certainly be prevented. The shrill screaming whistles of the fast trains passing through Wembley night and day cannot be so frequently necessary. The noise made by old, worn out lorries materially adds to the nuisance. Even the quiet of Sunday is seriously disturbed by the fearful noise overhead due almost entirely to civil aviation. It is quite time this received attention. We know how useful, perhaps necessary, is the pneumatic drill, but the noise produced is appalling! Some attempt should be made to mask or mitigate this, by boxing in or casing the immediate part operated with asbestos or rubber. Fortunately this nuisance only stays in one spot a short time.
Noise Nuisances.—Section 56 of the Middlesex County Council Act, 1930, provides that a noise nuisance shall be liable to be dealt with in accordance with the provisions relating to nuisances of the Public Health Act, 1875, with the proviso that if the noise is occasioned in the course of any trade, business or occupation it shall be a good defence that the best practicable means of preventing or mitigating it, having regard to the cost, have been adopted. During the year ten complaints of noise nuisance were received. Investigations were made and in eight instances the complaints were found to be justified. Appropriate action was taken and the noises were reduced to a reasonable amount having regard to the trade or business involved. No action was taken regarding the other two cases as investigation failed to substantiate the complaint of nuisance.
The powers taken in the Barking Corporation Act relative to noise nuisances enabled us to deal successfully with the nuisance from a steam exhaust at a factory in Abbey Road.
[. . .]
Particularly, I would call attention to the need for open playing grounds at some distance from the schools themselves, so that exercises may be undertaken freely with no thought of attendant noise interfering with the ordinary class-work of the children.
NOISE NUISANCES. During the year our attention has been called to nuisances and discomfort arising from the scream of circular saws, the grind of a cyclone used in a sawmill, electric hum from machinery and similar noises. Whilst your officers have been able to secure reduction in the noises of which complaint has been made, the provisions of the Barking Corporation Act are intended to deal only with avoidable noise and do not give the Council power to prohibit the use of the offending plant. The defence available to the factory owners under the above Act may not be a good defence at common law, and therefore in some cases the injured party would have a remedy in the civil courts.
Secondly, I would point out that lack of sleep is also a cause of malnutrition. It is during sleep that growth and repair take place, in contrast to the daytime when energy is being expended at the maximum rate. In this connection noise nuisances cannot be over-estimated. Wireless sets can cheat many children of their proper sleep, and the more children there are who are out of bed when they should be in bed and the more the streets are turned into playgrounds, so will the quality of the sleep of those who do go to bed early be impaired.
NOISE. I welcome the intention of the London County Council to promote legislation to deal in some small measure with the serious nuisance of noise. The close proximity of much of the housing accommodation in the Borough to factories and other noise producing agencies makes it urgently necessary that there should be some public control of a nuisance liable to cause injury to health.
During the year 10 complaints of noise nuisances were received. In 6 instances the complaints were found to be justified. Appropriate action was taken and the noises were reduced to a reasonable amount having regard to the trade or business involved. No action was taken with reference to the other four cases as investigation failed to substantiate the complaint of nuisance.
Complaints of noise are increasing. During 1937, 83 observations were made.
“In noise we are faced with an environmental problem which has markedly increased in significance in recent years with the development of mechanised civilisation.
It must be recognised that individuals vary very much in their sensitiveness to noise, but there is a general consensus of opinion that the widespread use of recent inventions, particularly radio sets, by the public, the increase of motor traffic and modern methods of building and road construction, have led to an increase in noise which is intolerable to many. Such noise is calculated not only to handicap the performance of work but to destroy the amenities of home life, and by disturbing rest and sleep contribute to ill-health in the community. Various measures may be taken to ensure that standards of noise are not exceeded in flats or other premises. They require to take account of the noise made by traffic and industrial noises and that made in the building itself by neighbours. They comprise questions of technique building and internal planning, town planning, legislation and education.” (League of Nations, Bulletin of the Health Organisation, August, 1937).
Nuisances from noise may now be dealt with by the local authority under the Nuisance Sections of the Public Health (London) Act, 1936, a provision to this effect having been included in the London County Council (General Powers) Act, of 1937. Under this provision, a noise nuisance is deemed to exist where any person makes or continues or causes to be made, etc., any excessive or unreasonable or unnecessary noise, which is injurious or dangerous to health. Exemption is, however, provided in the case of noise occasioned by the carrying out of works under any Act of the County Council or Sanitary Authorities or by any public undertaking. In the case of proceedings taken in respect of noise from any trade, business or occupation, it is a good defence for the person summoned to show that he has taken the best practicable means for preventing or mitigating the nuisance having regard to cost and other relevant circumstances. Seventeen complaints were received during the year and these were adequately dealt with by informal action. These related to noise of machinery in business premises adjoining dwellings, building operations carried out at night, the use of electric drills in streets or in demolition of buildings, wireless sets, dogs, &c. One complaint was of noise caused by persons frequenting a club in the early hours of the morning. Admirable as these provisions are, they bring but little comfort to those who reside near busy streets where late motor traffic frequently interrupts the hours of sleep.
The following byelaw in regard to street cries and noises was made by the Borough Council in 1907 and only applies to Sundays: —
Under section 66 it is provided that a noise nuisance shall be a nuisance which may bo dealt with summarily under the Public Health (London) Act, 1936. A noise nuisance is deemed to exist where any person makes or continues or causes to be made or continued any excessive or unreasonable or unnecessary noise which is injurious or dangerous to health. The section does not apply to a noise occasioned by the exercise of the functions under any Act of the county council or the sanitary authorities or any statutory undertakers; or affect the power of the county council or any borough council to make byelaws for good rule and government and suppression of nuisances under section 38 of the London County Council (General Powers) Act, 1934. It is further provided by section 66 of the new statute that no complaint to a petty sessional court under paragraph 20 of the fifth schedule to the Act of 1936 in respect of a noise nuisance shall be of any effect unless it is made by not less than three persons, being either householders or occupiers of premises within hearing of the noise nuisance which is the subject of the complaint. In any proceedings occasioned in the course of any trade, business or occupation it will be a good defence for the person charged to show that he has used the best practicable means of preventing or mitigating the nuisance having regard to the cost and to other relevant circumstances. [Extract from Report of Town Clerk.]
In connection with this matter the following byelaw recently made by the Borough Council as to nuisances caused by wireless loudspeakers, gramophones, etc., came into operation on the 1st August, 1937.
“No person shall (a) in any street or public place or in or in connection with any shop, business premises or other place which adjoins any street or public place and to which the public are admitted, or (6) upon any other premises by operating or causing or suffering to be operated any wireless loudspeaker, gramophone, amplifier or similar instrument make or cause or suffer to be made any noise which shall be so loud and so continuous or repeated as to cause a nuisance to occupants or inmates of any premises in the neighbourhood.
Provided that no proceedings shall be taken against any person for any offence against this byelaw in respect of premises referred to in paragraph (b) thereof, unless the nuisance be continued 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 the hearing of the instrument as aforesaid.
Any person offending against this byelaw shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding five pounds.”
[Regarding the new maternity hospital in Perivale]
Throughout the Labour Block all floors and dados are finished in light green terrazzo. All doors are solid flush oak, veneered, with chromium plated easy-clean fittings. All windows are of heavy section metal, those in the six-bedded wards and in the single-bedded wards on the first floor being of the sliding-folding type. In the Ward and Labour Blocks a silent signal (light) system has been installed by means of which patients can call a nurse without the noise of bells.
Noise (London County Council (General Powers) Act, 1937.
By Section 66 of this Act a noise nuisance shall be a nuisance which may be dealt with summarily under the Public Health (London) Act, 1936. It should be noted that no complaint to a court shall be effective unless it is made by not less than three persons, either householders or occupiers of premises within hearing of the noise nuisance which is the subject of the complaint. Further, in any proceedings, it is a good defence to show that the best practical means have been used to prevent or mitigate the nuisance, due regard being paid to the cost and other relevant circumstances. Six complaints of noise were received last year, but no action under the Act was taken.
Section 56 of the Middlesex County Council Act, 1930, provides that a noise nuisance shall be liable to be dealt with in accordance with the provisions relating to nuisances in the Public Health Act, 1875, with the proviso that if the noise is occasioned in the course of any trade, business, or occupation it shall be a good defence to say that the best practical means of preventing or mitigating it having regard to the cost have been adopted. During the year three cases of noise nuisance have been dealt with and action taken in all three.
There has been a large increase in the number of complaints received regarding noise. During 1938 no less than 518 visits were made. The majority of these complaints, naturally, are made by residents whose houses adjoin industrial zones. Whilst there must be some boundaries on which residential zones meet industrial zones, the difficulties are obvious where dwelling houses are in close proximity to factories. For example there are instances of factories on one side of a road, with residential dwellings immediately opposite. In other cases dwelling houses back on to factories, the gardens of the houses forming the only intervening space.
The industries which are responsible for complaint of noise in the Borough are not those usually classed as heavy industries. For example, noise was caused by the running of pumping machinery, while very considerable amelioration was obtained by enclosing that part of the factory where such machinery was installed by screens made of sound-absorbing material, and by the provision of double windows.
In other instances noise from running machinery has been reduced by the erection of wooden fences and by the occupiers of the factories keeping particular windows and doors of the factory closed during the hours of work.
In another case amelioration of the existing conditions has been achieved by the provision of efficient silencers on the air intake pipes attached to air compressor plant. Another noise nuisance has been overcome by the provision of new buildings, in which the engines are now running in special chambers partially partitioned by glass, the exhaust gases going into a specially constructed tunnel, lined with sound-absorbing material. The new arrangements have reduced the considerable noise to one now barely audible in the near vicinity.
These are typical examples of achievement possible with the assistance of the occupiers of the factories. The results have been obtained without the service of statutory notices or recourse to legal proceedings.
Section 106—Middlesex County Council (General Powers) Act, 1938, is now relevant to the subject of noise. The section is as follows:—
(1) A noise nuisance shall be liable to be dealt with as a statutory nuisance under the Act of 1936. Provided that no complaint shall be made to a justice under section 99 of the said Act unless it is signed by not less than three householders or occupiers of premises within hearing of the noise nuisance complained of.
(2) For the purpose of this section a noise nuisance shall be deemed to exist where any person makes or continues or causes to be made or continued any excessive or unreasonable or unnecessary noise and where such noise
(a) is injurious or dangerous to health; and
(b) is capable of being prevented or mitigated having due regard to all the circumstances of the case.
Provided that if the noise is occasioned in the course of any trade, business or occupation it shall be a good defence that the best practicable means within the meaning of the said Act of preventing or mitigating it have been adopted.
(3) Nothing contained in this section shall apply to a railway company the Transport Board or any statutory undertakers for the supply of water gas or electricity or their respective servants exercising statutory powers or to any mechanically propelled vessel on the Grand Union Canal.
(4) Nothing in this section shall affect the powers of the Council or the Council of a Borough to make byelaws under Section 249 of the Act of 1933.
(5) Section 56 (Noise nuisance) of the Act of 1930 is hereby repealed.
While factory owners, on their attention being drawn to the nuisance from their factories, have always been found to be willing to co-operate in an endeavour to secure reduction or elimination of the noise, the solution is not always easy, and considerable expenditure is often involved. The circumstances generally call for much technical knowledge of the inspectors, and tact and understanding are necessary throughout in dealing with this question.
It may be added that in making these inspections and observations regarding complaints of noise, no noise-measuring instruments have been used, the amount of noise being gauged by ear alone.
Nuisance from Noise.
Section 106 of the Middlesex County Council Act, 1938, provides that a noise nuisance shall be liable to be dealt with in accordance with the provisions relating to nuisances of the Public Health Act, 1936, with the proviso that if the noise is occasioned in the course of any trade, business or occupation it shall be a good defence that the best practicable means of preventing or mitigating it, having regard to the cost, have been adopted. Ten complaints of nuisances from noise were received during the year. Investigations were made and where possible appropriate action was taken and the noise abated or reduced to a minimum.
Noise Nuisances which are Injurious to Health.
A noise nuisance as defined under this Act may be dealt with summarily under the Public Health (London) Act, 1936. The noise must be excessive or unreasonable or unnecessary, be injurious or dangerous to health, and it shall be a good defence for the person charged in relation to any trade business or occupation that he has used the best practical means of preventing or mitigating the nuisance having regard to the cost and other relevant circumstances. Complaint to be of any effect must be made by not less than three persons being either householders or occupiers of premises within hearing of the noise nuisance which is the subject of the complaint. During the year 20 complaints were investigated, and numerous inspections were made in respect of the use of a site in Seven Sisters Road as a fair ground, and inspections were still continuing at the end of the year. Special investigations were made with regard to a number of complaints received of alleged excessive noise in factories.
Complaints were made in respect of 23 noise nuisances during the year, and these were adequately dealt with by informal action. They related to the noise of machinery, wireless sets, electric drills in streets, &c. One complaint was of noise from a pin-table saloon and another from an all-night cafe. Fire alarm bells on two large adjoining buildings caused considerable annoyance to residents in the neighbourhood by ringing almost every day at about 2 a.m. The cause of this baffled investigation at first, until it transpired that the ringing of the bells coincided with the flushing of the street by the Highways Department. The operation of the hydrants had caused the bells to ring, the alarm systems being connected with “sprinkler” extinguishing systems. Certain minor adjustments in the sprinkler systems were all that was necessary to abate the nuisance.
During the year 30 complaints of noise were received, eleven relating to nuisance at night (rowdy disturbances, door slamming, etc.), four to motor vehicles, four to operation of machinery in industrial premises, three to roller skating on the public way, three to itinerant newsvendors, two to dogs, two to milk delivery, and one to street hawking.
Street Musicians and Singers.
On the 28th July, 1938, the Council made the following bye-law in pursuance of section 38 of the London County Council (General Powers) Act, 1938:—
“(1) No person shall sound or play upon any musical or noisy instrument or sing in any street or public place within 100 yards of any dwelling-house, office, or business or professional premises to the annoyance or disturbance of any inmate or occupant thereof, after being requested to desist by any constable, or by any inmate or occupant so annoyed or disturbed, or by any person acting on his behalf.
Provided that this byelaw shall not apply to—
(a) any person taking part in a properly conducted religious service, except where the request to desist is made on the ground of the serious illness of any inmate of the house; or
(b) any person (i) whilst playing under the order of his commanding officer, in any band belonging to any branch of His Majesty’s Naval, Army, Air Reserve or Territorial Forces; or (ii) whilst playing in any band performing with the sanction of and in a place appointed by the London County Council or the St. Marylebone Borough Council.
(2) Any person offending against the foregoing byelaw shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £5.”
The bye-law was duly confirmed by the Home Secretary and came into operation on the 1st November, 1938. Eight complaints were received and dealt with informally.
Wireless Loudspeakers, etc.
During the year, seven complaints were received relating to nuisance from wireless loudspeakers, gramophones and similar instruments. In six cases, abatement of the nuisance was secured without the service of formal notice. In the remaining instance, the issue of a notice was necessary to obtain a remedy.
In securing attention to the several provisions relating to noise nuisances, the temporary streets nuisance inspector rendered valuable assistance, and also cooperated with the police in regard to a number of the complaints received.
During the year 35 complaints of noise were received, fourteen relating to street hawking, seven to street musicians, seven to wireless loudspeakers, gramophones and similar instruments, two to children, two to dogs, two to building operations, and one to a motor vehicle. In securing attention to the several provisions relating to noise nuisances, the temporary streets nuisance inspector rendered valuable assistance, and also cooperated with the police in regard to a number of the complaints received. In two instances of nuisance caused by wireless loudspeakers the issue of a notice was necessary to obtain a remedy.