The Pub­lic Health Amend­ment Act of 1890

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - MY ANCESTOR WAS A BUTCHER -

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.

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