FACTORIES. For the most part, the law relating to Factories is administered by the Home Office. 125 visits were, however, made to Factories, 62 being in reference to sanitary accommodation, 44 in reference to cleanliness of earth closets, eight in reference to new occupation, three in reference to ventilated space in glass works, four in reference to smoke, three in reference to want of screens to w.c.‘s at a steam laundry, and one in reference to complaint of noise from a steam laundry. All the defects noted were remedied during the year.
On the 25th August one of the Sanitary Inspectors reported that a band of Hungarian gypsies had encamped on land in Garratt Lane, and on inspecting the premises he found that there were about 120 men, women and children occupying 17 tents which had been erected on the land.
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The Sanitary Inspector visited the premises three or four times a week, and I personally inspected the premises on six different occasions, as several complaints had been received from the occupiers of the houses adjoining. The complaints made were mainly of the noise produced by hammering, the work carried on by these gypsies being the repairing of copper utensils. Eventually, after a considerable amount of difficulty, the tribe were persuaded to leave, and the premises were vacated on the 23rd December.
[. . .] Amending Order of Local Government Board re Noise of Exhaust Gases from any Motor Engine. The Local Government Board made an Order amending Article IV. of the Motor Cars (Use and Construction) Order, 1904, as amended by the Motor Cars (Use and Construction) Amendment Order, 1909. The effect of the Order, which came into operation on the 31st March is to prohibit the use of any cut-out or other device which will allow the exhaust gases from any motor engine to escape into the atmosphere without passing through a silencer or other contrivance for reducing the noise which would otherwise be caused by the escape of such gases.
At irregular intervals throughout the year inspections were made of the vans occupied as dwellings; there have also been special visits made as the result of complaints received from time to time respecting the vans in certain yards. There are in all 37 vans on 12 separate premises, the most in one yard being seven. The internal measurements of all these vans have been taken for the purpose of calculating their cubic capacity. With one or two exceptions these dwellings have been found clean and well-kept, and the provisions of bye-laws relating to Tents, Vans and Sheds complied with. In the few instances mentioned, a verbal warning was sufficient to obtain compliance. The complaints received referred principally to noise, or were the outcome of a sentimental objection to plots of land adjoining the dwelling-houses of the complainants being so used, but not with respect to any breach of the byelaws. The occupiers of the vans appear to be a very healthy set of people, only one case of infectious disease (Scarlet Fever) having occurred amongst them during the whole of the year.
[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.
[Description of Finsbury slums]
Many of the mothers did not know where their husbands worked or what their earnings were. Other mothers wished to conceal the occupations of their husbands. One such had stated that her husband was a carman. Later, they and their baby, 13 months old, were seen in a London square. The mother was soliciting money from passers-by. The father was playing a combination slum orchestra which included a violin, Pan’s pipes, drum, a triangle, and cymbals.
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Lowest in the scale are fathers who “work pitches” outside public houses for a living, organ grinders, and those who “go busking” or singing to theatre queues. Those who are attached to public house “pitches” act as messengers, porters, cartminders, or hold horses’ heads. They earn from 1s. to 2s. a day, but are often remunerated by having ale given to them instead of money. The takings of organ grinders are said to have materially lessened during the last 5 years. It would appear that 10s. to 15s. is now a fair average weekly amount.
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Some of the homes were in dark, dilapidated and domestically dirty basements or attics. It is noteworthy that families with numerous children are compelled by house owners in many instances to occupy the basements. Such families are precluded from living in upper rooms because when they occupy the higher storeys the children at play make much noise and interfere with the peaceable enjoyment of their holdings by those who occupy the rooms underneath. One mother observed, “If you have children, you are always pushed to the bottom of the house if you live with respectable people. My children have always been ill since we have had to live in these underground places.” Many of the tenements were verminous, many were crowded, a few were overcrowded.
Motor Traffic (Street Noises) Bill.
A Bill to amend the law in respect of Warning Instruments on Motor Vehicles. The object of this Bill is to give powers to make regulations prohibiting the use in special areas or during specified hours of certain warning instruments on motor vehicles. The regulations will be made under section six of the Locomotives on Highways Act, 1890, under which there is power to confine the application of any regulations to a particular area.
[. . .] (2) Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society’s Bakery, Brixton Hill, a factory used for baking on a wholesale scale for civilians (the premises being in occupation for that purpose from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.), and for military authorities (the premises being in occupation for that purpose from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.), and causing chiefly a nuisance from noise and vibration of machinery. [but] no legal action was taken in connection with No. (2), the nuisance from noise and vibration not being one with which the Council could deal, and the premises being also found to be an exempted building (in the occupation of the military).
But apart from the offensive smells, a deeper sense of injury is felt by some, at any rate, of the inhabitants of Agnes Road, and this arises from the establishment of a factory where heavy machinery is used, within a few yards of the house. Where night work is done, the noise of the heavy machinery does disturb the rest of the occupiers of the neighbouring houses. I have received numerous complaints from occupiers of the neighbouring houses that it is impossible to obtain sleep at night, owing to the noise of the heavy machinery.
[Regarding TB consulting rooms in Hackney and Bethnal Green]
Each consulting room is provided with two dressing-rooms, and a dark room for throat examinations, and has proved entirely satisfactory for the rather special requirements of a dispensary. The patients are seen in the waiting room outside by the nurse, who weighs them and takes their temperatures, and they come singly into the consulting-room. The patients are therefore encouraged to mention to the tuberculosis officer any private or domestic details, and the tuberculosis officer is not disturbed during his examination by noise made by patients who are waiting to see him.