This is the third of a number of extracts taken from the book Spalding in the Sixties and Seventies (1860 & 70’s) by F Ridlington.
Public sanitation did not exist in Spalding in the sixties. There were sewers which emptied into the river Welland W. C.’s had not been invented, and the cleansing of the huge privies attached to the houses had to be arranged by the residents, without any assistance from the governing body. The commode
was a regular article of bedroom furniture. There were gratings in the streets at intervals to carry of the water in the gutters beside the sidewalks and people used to empty their slops down these.
The backs of houses built beside the river had drain pipes in the back foot path which discharged their contents into the stream. The river was unsavoury in droughts and when the tides were small and sometimes it was quite dry, and we were able to walk in its bed.
Nobody Troubled Much.
Before the dead cats and dogs and other refuse thrown into the stream while flowing downward could empty into the sea these unsavoury objects were often brought back again by the incoming tides.
The absence of proper sanitation was responsible for outbreaks of smallpox and other infectious diseases, which cost a good many lives, but people did not seem to trouble greatly about the matter.
There was a bad outbreak of smallpox on either side of the house in which we were living temporarily in Double street in 1870. The houses affected were all homes of squalor and the deaths numbered ten or more. None of our family or of the family next door, caught the infection.
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