Street Noises, &c.
The Vestry have had before them letters from the County Council asking the opinion of the Vestry as to the desirability of the Council making bye-laws to suppress nuisances from noise arising from shouting to sell goods, shooting galleries, roundabouts and steam organs, and also as to requiring vehicles to carry lights after sunset; and from the Paddington Vestry, expressing the opinion that, having regard to the varying conditions and requirements of different parts of the Metropolis, the Vestries and District Boards should have the power, subject to the approval of the Local Government Board, of making such bye-laws. On the question of street shouting the Council has received a letter from the Home Secretary expressing the opinion that a bye-law which is in force in Liverpool and many other places in the kingdom, in the following form, would be a valid one if adopted by the Council:—
“No person shall, for the purpose of hawking, selling or distributing any newspaper or other article, shout, or use any bell, gong, or noisy instrument in such a manner as to cause nuisance or annoyance to the residents or passengers,” and such bye law, if made, would be enforced by the police. The Home Secretary points out that the requirement that public annoyance must be proved is an important safeguard against the oppressive application of the prohibition, and that it is not likely that Parliament would accept a more stringent provision. The Vestry passed the following resolutions:—
(1) That the Council be informed that the Vestry is in favour of such a bye-law being made and applied in the County of London.
(2) That the Council be informed that in the opinion of the Vestry it is desirable that powers should be obtained for Vestries and District Boards to make bye-laws to control the nuisance arising from shooting galleries, roundabouts and steam organs.
(3) That the Council be informed that in the opinion of the Vestry it is desirable that all vehicles should be required to carry lights after sunset, such requirement being enforced by the Council.
(4) That the Council be informed that in the opinion of the Vestry it is desirable that powers should be obtained for Vestries and District Boards to make bye-laws to regulate the keeping of noisy animals. [. . .] Gambling in the Streets—The Vestry have had their attention called to the prevalence of gambling in the streets of Clerkenwell, especially among youths, and they have written to the Superintendent of Police for the Division asking his assistance to stop the nuisance. [. . .]
Fire Alarm. — At the suggestion of the Vestry the County Council have fixed a fire alarm in St. John’s Square.
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.