DANGEROUS RAILWAY BRIDGES.
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. The Board have brought the matter before the Railway Company by letter, and specially by deputation, and have also been in communication with the Board of Trade thereon, but they have not yet succeeded in obtaining any improvement.
The Board, after careful consideration and after receiving Memorials from Ratepayers upon the subject, determined to oppose the Bill of the South Eastern Railway Company, unless the Company would agree to increase the width of the proposed new bridges in the District, and also would, in constructing the proposed widenings, so reconstruct the bridges in Loampit Vale and High Street, Lewisham, as to deaden the noise caused by trains passing over them, which noise had in the past caused frequent accidents; and would also agree to erect a station on their main line at or near High Street, Lewisham. Station accommodation on the Main Line had long been demanded by the public, and the Board were strongly urged by public meetings and otherwise to insist upon this being provided.
The Company refused to entertain any proposal with regard to these improvements, and the Board had, consequently, to petition against the Bill and oppose the same before a Committee of the House of Commons, when, after a lengthened struggle, clauses were inserted in the Bill compelling the Company to considerably widen the bridges before referred to, in some cases to double them; also compelling them, in all new bridges, to make them water-tight and noiseless, as far as possible, and in addition, a Parliamentary undertaking was given by the Counsel for the Railway Company that a station should be erected on their main line so soon as the widenings should be opened, somewhere between the High Street, Lewisham, and the fork of the Railway near Hither Green Lane.
The Great Eastern Railway Company have fixed screens under the bridges at Stepney Station, Blount Street, and Brenton Street, to prevent drippings therefrom. Screens have also been fixed under the platforms in York Road. With the view of lessening the noise caused by passing trains, the Company have fixed felt under the sleepers of the bridge crossing Salmon Lane.
A letter was received from the London County Council stating that it had been decided to endeavour to get clauses inserted in all Bills promoted by Railway Companies with a view to requiring the Companies among other matters to make all their bridges watertight, and to make provision for deadening as far as possible the noise of passing trains. The Council asked the Board to do all they could to second the Council’s efforts, and the Board replied that they would be pleased to Co-operate for the purpose referred to.
[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.
The Infant Welfare Centres are held in halls let to us by different religions organisations. There are two exceptions, viz., the Goldsmiths’ Centre, held in a classroom at the Goldsmiths’ College, London University, Lewisham High Road, and at the Princess Louise Centre, Hales Street. Until 1922, the last-named Centre employed its own medical officer, but during that year the Medical Officer of Health was appointed to carry out the Thursday afternoon consultations. The Borough Council, which also supplies two Health Visitors on Thursday afternoons, gave a grant of £20 to the Deptford Fund to help this Centre. Except for the staff as described, this Centre is the only voluntary one in the Borough. In the six Infant Welfare Centres there are voluntary workers whose admirable work is prized by the Council and officials. There are consulting rooms for the doctor at each Centre (except at Erlam Road, where a portion of the room is curtained off). At this Centre, consultation work is not easy owing to the noise. Further consideration of this point is necessary.
Various kinds of different sewing machines are used for different sets of bags required. In different industries in Deptford and elsewhere I have been struck with the veritable inferno created by the noise of machinery. One’s admiration goes out to the brains which conceived all such machinery, but it would be a fine thing if the nerveracking, deafening noise could be eliminated somehow. The sewing machines used in this factory are worked by electric power, the women skilfully direct the edges to be sewn from end to end. We were struck by the concentration shown by those manipulating the machines and material; how greedily the machines “eat up” the goods! The rooms on the different floors are large and spacious. The wooden floors are dry but the nature of the work tends towards dust collection. The ventilation is good, being effected by windows and doors. Steam pipes and radiators are in use. General cleanliness is good, though dust collection had to be mentioned to the manager.
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Spinning Company. The stranded hemp arrives in bales on the canal from India and China. The bales are opened and the hemp is passed through separating machines dividing the hemp into strands. The strands are then passed through mixing machines, thus mixing the strands according to the quality or description of the cord required. The stranded hemp is then passed through a cord-making machine, coming out as the finished article, wound upon reels or into bundles or coils as required. The noise created by the machinery is very great. The floors are of cement with wood for the employees to stand upon.