[In the context of a discussion over two-and-a-half miles of what had been formerly turnpike roads, partly paved and partly macadamized]
We advertised, and we had only one response to the advertisement. We tried a second time, and we only had the same offer again, and we were compelled to come to the terms of the party who offered. With respect to the value of property on the line of road, we think that the property, instead of rising in value, is now depreciating. The noise and and turmoil are so great on these 2½ miles of highway, that the houses which three or four years ago let for about £28 a year are now let for £20. They came to us to reduce the rates. Evidence was produced to us of the depreciation, and we had to reduce the rates in consequence of the value of these premises going down. Is that owing to the increased traffic?
—Yes. The traffic is so great that foot passengers will not go along it unless they are actually compelled. Ladies or that class of passengers will not go shopping. (Mr. Eustace.) For instance, a relative of mine, who is a retired tradesman, has actually left the road from the noise and dust, and gone to reside elsewhere. We are compelled to be at great expense in watering our roads twice a day to keep down the dust to make the place at all habitable, otherwise we should suffer very severely in our rating. This is through traffic, and not traffic from which we benefit, but traffic coming from other parts and going to other parts of London.
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.
This street has been paved with asphalte during the year, and advantage has been taken of the alteration to remove posts at the eastern end which prevented vehicular traffic passing through. Objection was taken by the Girls’ School authorities that the noise of passing traffic would be a serious hindrance to their school work, and the Vestry therefore fixed a moveable bar, which could take the place of the posts if the fears of noise were realised. Up to the present time, however, no complaints have been made to the Vestry.
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.
Band Performances by County Council.
The Vestry asked the County Council to arrange for band performances to be given within the Parish of Clerkenwell, and suggested that Spa Green would be a suitable place for the purpose, but the Council, in view of the heavy traffic in Rosebery Avenue next the open spaces referred to, and the noise occasioned by same, were not prepared to allow band performances in the places suggested, and therefore asked the Vestry to indicate some more suitable place, to which the objections referred to would not apply As, however, Spa Green is the only suitable place for the purpose the matter was dropped.
[. . .] 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.
[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.
[. . .]
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.
[. . .]
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.
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.
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.