Urban noise nuisances and related matters between 1856 and 1939, as described in Medical Office of Health reports compiled by the Wellcome Library for their London's Pulse project.
Among the many subjects which have occupied the Board’s attention, although, perhaps, more of a local than a general character, may be mentioned the Bridges carrying Railways over Roads in the District, particularly two in Lewisham. The noise occasioned by passing trains has, upon several occasions, alarmed horses, and accidents have occurred in consequence. ‑ Lewisham 1881
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. ‑ Finsbury 1914
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 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. ‑ St Pancras 1904
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. ‑ Hammersmith 1905
A problem which is becoming more acute is that of noise. By this is not meant the inevitable increase in the “background of noise”, 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. ‑ Southall 1934
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, vulgar horse play by lads at or near the station at night, perpetual barking of dogs often all night. ‑ Wembley 1902
The district of St. Marylebone possesses streets in which a large proportion of the houses are fitted up as nursing establishments. There is one disadvantage, that is, some of the sufferers require the muffling of the street noises as far as possible, hence these nursing streets are almost constantly littered with straw. ‑ Marylebone 1898
Ranelagh-street, No. 8. The complaint here was of stone masons’ hammering during the day. At Mr. Croft’s, Pork Butcher, Knightsbridge-terrace, that of a nuisance caused by the noise of a sausage-making machine, erected at the rear of complainant’s yard. At Cumberland-street, No. 73, annoyance caused by the playing of an organ next door. ‑ Hanover Square 1861
That the Clerk be authorised to write in reply, stating that in the opinion of the Vestry it is advisable that a By-law should be framed prohibiting the throwing of orange peel on the footways, and also that a By-law should be framed to obviate as much as possible noises in the streets after 12 o’clock at night. ‑ Rotherhithe 1894
There is no more offensive and disgusting sight or smell than that of a piggery, to say nothing of the nondescript character of the sties in which the animals are usually kept, or the hideous noises with which they invade even the silence of the night. ‑ Wandsworth 1877
The factory is small and the space is still further encroached upon by the bales of rags ready for tearing up. The engine is a good deal worn and is very noisy in its working. The machines do not appear to be fixed on very substantial foundations, and vibrate a good deal. ‑ Bethnal Green 1888
Cock-crowing at 1 a.m, the barking of dogs, the cooing of pigeons near your chamber window, or any other nuisance arising from noise, by which the sleep of nervous people is disturbed, is a serious annoyance, and probably ought, as in the manner of the street music, to be under control, or to be put down by law; but I cannot treat them as Sanitary nuisances. ‑ Paddington 1870
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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.
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.
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.