The Public Health Amendment Act of 1890
In overcrowded cities, butchers’ slaughterhouses came under attack as health risks. They were often directly behind residential houses and sometimes even in cellars. According to the Pall Mall Gazette (1 September 1882),, the old slaughterhouses in London were “frequently situated at the back of the shop in n which the meat is sold. In hundreds of cases a beast is knocked down and dressed and c ut up into quarters in a room that was origin nally intended for a kitchen, and that is s not more than six yards from a popula ar thoroughfare.” The slaughtering ofo animals was “habitually carried on in neighbourhoods where the houses press so closely upon each h other that the occupants grow callously familiar with the dull thu d of the poleaxe, and may hear through their party-walls the deat th- groan of a stricken beast.” Slaughterhouses had to be licensed and none newly-built within 20 feet of an inhabited building could receive a licence, but the old buildings remained. Under the Public Health Amendment Act of 1890,189 local authorities had to appoint licensing inspecctors for slaughterhouses; they were also encouraged to provide municipally owned and run abattooirs paid for by the rates.
The legislation conttributed to the slow decline of private slaaughterhouses with a decrease in the number of licenses issued. This was very evident in London, but in smaller towns and eeven cities like Birmingham, the authorities were slow to prov vide public abattoirs. In these places, small family
bbutchers continued to offer homme-killed meat well into the 1920s and 1930s.