William Lee's Enquiry into the Sewerage, Drainage and Supply of Water, and the Sanitary Condition of the Inhabitants of the Borough of King's Lynn, 1853

Appendix A. King's Lynn. - Minutes of Inspection.
22nd April 1852.

St. Ann's-street, Chapel-yard. - All surface drainage.
Kenceley's property. - Bad smell; privy a box, emptied once a fortninght; the tenants pay the scavengers 1d. a time. Houses dilapidated; pavement of pebbles, in a bad condition; channels of brick, and the refuse stagnant. Two water taps; one for four houses, and one for two; water on two hours per day. Rent 1s. 6d. for single rooms, worth only about a year's rent; ventilation bad. Yards very narrow.
Mr. Purdy, pork butcher. - All drainage from killing comes on the surface of the street; pigs taken through the house. Rent 10l. and rates. Drain goes under the house floor.
Churchman's-yard, is a bad place, with pebble pavement, and all surface drainage. One of the pilots, John Brooke, says that the neighbours complain of the stench. Privies are all boxes, and 6d. per quarter each is paid for emptying. One woman says she cannot afford to pay, and so she takes it herself, and empties it into the street, from whence it is taken away by the Commissioners. Inquired and found that the scavenger was bound to take it, and that the emptying into the street is unlawful.
North-street. - Mrs. Begley's property. All surface channels, foul and bad.
Osler's-yard. - Bad surface drainage; some of the houses have no sinkstones; the liquid has to be carried out, and poured into a foul surface channel. Pavement full of holes. A large dung-heap has accumulated three weeks, and stinks. It consists of fully two loads of litter, excrement, and fish refuse.
Mr. Osler says, "There are four houses in the yard, containing five families. There is a pump, but people used to come and take water without paying, and so I took out the sucker. My tenants get water from a tap in Mrs. Stokeham's property, but I have a tap in a stable, and my tenants might get water from it; but Mrs. Stokeham's is nearer, and so they fetch water from there. It is about ten yards nearer; the pump is locked up; one privy for all the houses. There is a cesspool for the privy, with a wooden door; it is cleared out once a month; I clean it out, but I pay sometimes 2s. for taking it away."
Another large heap of refuse, the sweepings of the yard. Says it has accumulated in three weeks. Get 2s. 6d. per load for it.
The bottom of the yard has a large quantity of mussels, which are brought to be sold as manure. The Town Clerk says they frequently stink abominably; privy beastly; excrement on the floor.
Watson's-yard. - Privies are boxes. John Griffiths has a bad fever. Mr. Sayle has attended him of fever within three months. The boxes are cleaned out once a week. There was much filth in the yard, but the drainage has just now been improved, and a grate put down. The landlady pays the scavengers for emptying the boxes, and Mr. Wilson says he has seen the human excrement on the grate. Now the drain is made, the people bring all the filth down to the grate. Rent for two rooms, 1s. 11d.. Every house has been made into two.
Mr. Henry Hanwell , of the Norfolk Arms, complained of the grate as an intolerable nuisance, and put in a notice and letter sent him from the guardians.
In front of the street Mrs. Langford complains much that her house is injured by the water-tap at Mrs. Watson's property. Examined the walls inside, and found them damp. Lives in her own house, and has no privy or back premises. The next house is even worse. The drain and grate in the street is quite a nuisance. Mrs. Langford says she has got up at 4 o'clock to clean, and has seen people empty utensils into it. The next house is also hers; it has been empty three quarters of a year in consequence of the grate, and nobody can live in it. The yard has been drained by order of the Sanitary Committee of Guardians. It is a vile place, - fish refuse; no proper pavement; excrement; a water-tap placed there only within a fortnight. The whole place covered with shrimp and mussel refuse, and only two water-taps for about 10 houses, and 50 or more people.
Devonshire's-yard. - Narrow; one tap to five houses.
The Whitening-yard. - Abominable accumulations of dung and filth. There are 10 houses, which have their supply of water from a pump and tap.
Pilot-street. - Examined Fisher-fleet, into which privies on one side enter direct, and on the other people throw in filth. Banks of decayed cockles and other debris.
North-end, North-yard. - The Inspector of Nuisances says he has reported the place three times, but nothing can be done with it because there are so many owners. Drainage is very bad, and the stench is great.
Mr. Chadwick's property. - A very bad yard, and foul privy under a building. One tap to 15 houses. A grate and surface channel for a considerable length is the only drainage.
Medlock's-yard. - In one house, in a low room, with damp walls, a woman who has been 12 months ill in bed. 2s. rent for a low room and chamber, with a privy adjoining the house.
Jews-lane, formerly Butcher's-lane. - Mr. William Roberts, in "Tuesday Market-place," complains of the drainage which comes from some other houses through his premises, and into Jews-lane. The other property belongs to Mr. Webster. He says, "We are obliged to have their drain, so that we can open it, and clean it out, it becomes so offensive; it flows out on the surface of Jews-lane. In Jews-lane the channel is along the centre of the road."
Mr. Huddlestone or Julne's premises. - Marine stores, rags, bones,skins, &c. The stench very offensive; bones with sinews attached; very confined premises; draining to the bone-house; the business has been carried on here between seven and eight years; have a large pan for boiling the tallow of diseased animals in the night.
Digger's-yard is a very bad place for immoral characters. A privy without seats, giving out an abominable stench, and with a water-tap against it; privy against a house.
Chapel-street, Miles-court. - A very much larger and better court; better houses, and more respectable class of tenants; little gardens in front of most of the houses; rent 8l. per annum, for three rooms, clear of rates; pavement is capable of improvement; a pump for 17 houses, but no taps; there is not enough water for the tenants; the pump is connected with a cistern from the water-works; it has not time to fill sufficiently in the two hours during which the water is turned on.
Norfolk-street, Old George-yard. - Very bad pebble pavement and stagnant channel, but otherwise a nice open yard; the privies are foul and full up to the seats.
Paradise-lane. - Two slaughter-houses; all the surface of the lane covered with ordure; slaughter-house floor quite clean; the neighbours complain of the slaughter-houses being unpleasant.
Robert's-yard. - Mr. Laws complained of the drainage; the urine from the California Hotel comes in on the surface; he removed a grate in the passage, so as to place it higher up the passage, above the door and near the place where the urine comes out, but they made him remove it again; pavement of the yards is generally very bad; the yards narrow, and the privies foul; a box privy for Mr. Sanders's property, and no pavement in this, which is an interior yard.
Miss Atto's property is in another interior yard. A sunk privy, as it is called, namely a brick vault, which is for two houses; it requires emptying once in twelve months, and costs 6s. each time.
Mr. Winch's tenant complains that she suffers from a privy which Mr. Garratt has in the narrow passage; the door of the house and privy are only separated about four feet; she looks ill, and says, "It is wonderfully unpleasant every morning. I have scarcely been without headache since I came here; I rarely had it before; in my coal-house there is also an unpleasant smell from Miss Atto's privy; my room is also dark; I pay 1s. 6d. per week rent for this room."
The Bell-yard, as well as the last, is a place for prostitutes. The rooms are all let out separately; the privy has a broken seat, and can scarcely be used; utensils are used, and emptied out on the surface; night-soil lying in the yard.
Osler's-yard. - Has a notification of land to be sold for building purposes; which would complete the houses on one side, within a few feet from the front of others. Privies in this yard, very bad, with vaults not sunk below the floor, foul accumulations on the surface, and bad pavement; stagnant channel; one of the tenants said the houses were not fit to live in, although the channels are cleaned out every other day; there is only a tap of water for 17 families; the people say it is only on two hours at a time.
Jonathen Gagen complained of a drain which passes down Rutter's-yard, and is entirely stopped up, and contains nasty filth; also of some privies which are an offence to the premises he occupies.
Lift's-yard and Potter's-yard have very foul and stinking privies under roofs.
Atto's-yard contains between 20 and 30 houses. Two water taps external; two privies; the yard is open, and has been shaped and made smooth and dry with hard materials; single room pays 1s. 8d. rent; furnished 2s. 6d.; two-roomed cottage, 2s. 2d.
Market-street , has not been paved, flagged, or curbed, or dedicated to the public, but the inhabitants have to pay rates to the Paving Commissioners; another street, not yet named nor fully built up, is in similar codition.
Dr. Whiting says, that Market-street remains in its present codition because there is no power to cause it to be done; at the upper part of the street are cart-loads of oyster shells, which are thrown there and not taken away, because the Commissioners say they have no jurisdiction.
Paradise-road . - There are offensive accumulations of fish refuse thrown down; the Commissioners take it away about once a week.
Paradise-lane . - Many of the occupants are prostitutes; scarcely a privy to any of the houses; boxes are generally used.
Tower-street . - Robert Ives, butcher; examined his premises; the same mentioned by Dr. Whiting, the drainage being into an old drain; the privy goes into the drain, and the stench is very offensive. He says, "We have lived here three years; the sink also runs into it; my wife has been ill nearly two years; apparently of continued fever; her sister has been with us some time, and is not in such good health as when she came."

23rd April 1852

Inspection proceeded with; the borough gaol examined; everything found very clean; the place is old; there are 14 cells; the sessions are quarterly.
Nelson-street, Hampton court . - Once a large house forming a quadrangle, now about 10 houses. Some have boxes in the house instead of privies. On one side the houses have some back premises. Wtaer-tap in house. Have not seen any sinkstones. Yard not well paved, but it is one of the better parts of the town. All slops from the houses have to be carried to a grate in the court.
Church-street . - Linay's-yard, nine houses; a very narrowyard; three privies; stench great. Mr. Sayle said he had had cases of sickness among the Estuary men in this yard.
Thomas Wigginton's wife says, "We have been here a year last Christmas, and have lost two children since we came. We had all good health before; none of us ever had a day's illness. I am not well and my husband has had fever, and his lungs are now affected."
Mr. Fielding, next door, and a child about three years old, are nearly dead of low fever. Another child has hydrocephalus.
Mr. Ambrose Ransom, butcher. - Examined slaughter-house; drain stopped, and the premises not very clean. No entrance here but through the shop. Do not kill horned cattle.
Cross-yard . - Ten families; two sunk privies, and a grate. Pebble pavement. A close confined yard. Tenants say they keep the grate and channel as clean as they can, but there is a stench at times. Two water-taps for all the houses, and when they are both turned, one only dribbles.
Bridge-street, Smiths-court . - Pebble pavement good, but surface drainage very defective. 14 houses and only one privy.
Laws-yard . - A privy with a chamber over it; houses on each side, and within 6 feet opposite; several others close by. The night-soil runs over from the boxes, and flows down the channel into the street; it is now running over from one privy. All the neighbours are in a state of great indignation, pouring forth their complaints on all sides of me. One house has no privy but a box kept in an attic. They say that when they have spoken to Mrs. Watson, the owner of part of the property, about it, she has abused them.
John Thorne, occupant of one of the houses opposite one of the privies, is ill; and says, "I have lived here for nearly four years. I have three children alive; have buried two from this house. One was born dead, and the other lived only one day. A child three months old is not well. Lived in Norfolk-street before. I have not had good health from a child, but within the last two years have been much worse; have much pain in the chest and head." This man has all the symptoms of a debilitated predisposed constitution; the children are all debilitated. This is a very bad place. In an interior yard there are eight houses in a very bad state, and the people complain of the privies, &c.
In the other part of the court are 29 families, some of them consisting of six or seven persons. There are altogether more than 200 persons. Three taps for water, and it is only on from 7 to 9 in the morning. "We should wish very much that the place should be altered, and made more clean. We are satisfied we should have better health." This was stated by a number of them simultaneously. "Physic is very dear." This is the yard complained of in court by Capes; his house wall has percolations through it from the privy first described.
Melton's-yard, Bridge-street , is an exceedingly bad locality. In one place there is no pavement, and the filth from piggery and dung-pit running into the soil and over the surface. The ventilation is also very bad.
Sign of the "Lady of the Lake." - Privy very offensive. The publican says it is an annoyance to himself and to his neighbours when full. He added, "I have been here 12 months, and it has been emptied once; it is a vault. The night-soil has to be carried through the house. There was paid about 7s. 6d. for the emptying. That would be about annual."
In All Saints-street, Mr. Henry Dunger, baker, complains of the Lady of the Lake privy-vault, and says, "When there is much liquid in, it oozes through the wall in our bakehouse, under the kneading-trough, and through the joints of the floor, and stinks very much."
Saddington's-yard contains a large dung-heap of litter, much complained of. There are stables in the yard; pebble pavement bad; no grate or drain; horses, pigs, and fowls are kept there. Sarah Vine, widow, said, "I have lived in the house 15 years. I lost my husband 15 months since. I have 8 children; I have to complain of a nasty smell in the little cupboard under the stairs fro a sunk privy on the property at the back. We smell it bad at times. It comes through, and the wall is damp. We are forced to get up and open the door. It is very infectious, - wonderful. We have two boxes in the yard to use for privies."
Nathaniel Barker called me in, and complained of two privies close to his window, as being very offensive and injurious. In the next yard they kill pigs. He said, "I have always had bad health for the last four years. Have diseased heart and lungs; am dropsical, and all decaying inside. I am 40 years of age; I have no children. My wife has good health, but she is not much at home, as she has to hawk about for a living. I have been under all the doctors, and they have told me it is a nasty unhealthy place for me. Dr. Whiting would not allow me to live in any court-yard. When I am obliged to lie in bed the stench that comes through the window is often quite shocking. We are obliged to reside where we can get a living. I am a greengrocer, and keep a small shop, but am obliged to have a little relief from the parish. I lived at Bradford, in Yorkshire, previously."
North Everard-street. - The drainage is bad, and though it is a new part of the town, Mr. Sayle pointed out a house in a court in which he had had a bad case of fever.
London-road. - A new part of the town; has no sewer longitudinally here in the street. This is marked down as a fever locality.
InWindsor-place there was a very bad smell from the street drain.
Pleasant-row, is a sort of cul-de-sac, 16 feet wide, of chamber-height houses, built on both sides, with a narrow footpath on one side, and only door-stones to the other; a centre channel, and the pavement of pebbles. No under-drainage. This is also a new part of the town, and the houses let for 6l. and 8l. with the water rate. They have small back yards about 12 feet square. The privies are mostly sunk. This is a low part of the town, and the drainage being bad, although the houses are new, it is a fever locality.
Garden-row . - Pavement very bad, and there is a drain with grates, and the people have to bring out all their slops to these grates. There are dust-bins open, and the smells from them and the grates are offensive. The tenants say that it is a king of a place now. It is sometimes impassable after heavy rains. The dust-bins contain fish-guts, heads, shell-fish, and other refuse.
Windsor-row . - Similar; but the pavement better. Privise close to the doors.
Guannock-field. - Thomas-street, about 15 feet wide. new part of the town. Street unpaved, and no footpath. Beyond the jurisdiction of the Paving Commissioners.
A street without name runs out of it southward, and is without pavement, and said to be almost impassable in winter. Many of the houses have not been erected with party walls, or under such regulations and restriction as within the jurisdiction of the Commissioners.
Mr. John Wardle's property. - Mr. George Baker, tenant, says, "I have lived here half a year; pay 2s. 9d. rent. Have been ill 11 weeks of low fever, and it afterwards (Mr. Sayle says) put on an intermittent type. I am an excavator. The refuse is not carried away by the scavengers; they never come here. We throw our refuse over a wall in front. The privy smells bad; it has a vault. There is no drain from the house. We have water from the works. We have 4 rooms. The people living in the other part of the house come to this privy. I have bad chills. I have had 6s. a week from the fund provided among Mr. Peto's men. I have much pain now, and my body is swollen. I lived before in Wisbech. I never had fever or chills there."
Mr. Sayle said he evidently was a man who had previously enjoyed good health. There is a grate outside of the court-yard under the water tap.
Begley's buildings , next to Middleton's Stop-drain. - 18 houses. The land was Mr. Platten's, who has sold much of it. He retains about 8 houses; rents 7l. 14s. 6d., landlord paying all rates. Two low rooms and two chambers. There are separatecourt-yards, 12 feet by about 12, which contain sheds or any other out-offices, and the sunk privies; these are within 6 feet of the house doors; they are emptied twice or three times a year. Paid at first 3s. per time, but now 1s. 6d. each time emptying. There are no taps of water; but pumps and cisterns. There are two pumps to the whole 18 houses. The houses front to the country, and are the best and most pleasant cottages I have seen in the town. Mr. Platten says he secures, from the advantages of the property, a respectable clas of tenants, and there is very little loss of rent. The houses overlook the Middleton Stop-drain, or river Esk, and towards the London road.
Examined one of the pumps, which is supplied by a cistern filled from the works. It is placed in a recess, and has sunk privies on both sides of it. The recess of the pump has a door, and the tenants say there is a stench when the door is opened. That is when the privy is full, one of the tenants says. Another says, it stinks when the privy is not full. There is a drain, and the water flows from it into the privies, and fills them.
Jane Giles said, "The water from the pumps had been very bad, and when it was boiled it stank." The pool was not properly secured, and the suds and the privy drained into it. It has been cemented about two years since. There has been very little of the same since. The pool has not been cleaned out since it was cemented. There must be a great deal of silt at the bottom. The road at the back has no pavement for the carriageway; and, it is said by the tenants to be very bad in winter. There is a footpath of pebbles.
The whole place had been prepared for my visit, by sweeping and removing all superficial refuse.
Beyond the South gates there is a considerable number of houses being erected, past the jurisdiction of the Paving Commissioners. The owners have tried to get water from the works, but have not succeeded.
Exton's-road . - The Inspector of Nuisances says that it is impassable in winter. It is beyond the Commissioners jurisdiction.
Wood-street, behind the workhouse. - The Infirmary of the workhouse has a burial-ground on one side, and on the other an abattoir of about 12 slaughter-houses, stables, &c. There are also numerous pigs, fed on blood and garbage. No drainage of these places; all are not used as slaughter-houses. There are only two sunk pits for manure. It is said to be a most awful place. Mr. Wilson says he has a field, the road to which passes by this place, and the nuisance is so offensive, that it is enough to make anyone ill who goes that way. Blood, hair, litter, pigs, fowls, stench, no pavement, and everything abominable. Wood-street is unpaved, and said to be impassable in winter; only one lamp.
Examined the property of Hodgkinson. His ground and premises are kept in a very nice condition. He is the person who complained of the above. In the street there is no footpath. His statements are fully corroborated by an inspection. Hodgkinson is quite willing to pay his share of rates for improvement.
Purfleet-street . - Mr. George Andrews complains that the drainage from his own and two other houses passes under the kitchen floor, and he finds it very offensive. The stench from the privies is also very great. Examined Purfleet , - a most horrible place, when without water. Drains on all sides flowing in, and privies projecting upon timbers, and dropping the soilupon the uncovered banks of mud, fish, garbage, and other refuse. It goes through the centre of the town.
The Golden Lion-yard . - Pavement very rough. A stinking sunken privy in the corner. Samuel Fain's wife says, "We have lived here 2 years. I find the privy in the corner very bad. My health has not been very good. Last winter, before it was cleaned out, it ran all down the surface. We had to give 3s., and it had been accumulating 9 months. It is very unpleasant indeed. I cannot have the window open to get a little air."
Mitchley's-yard. - Bad surface drainage. Pebble pavement. Drains into another yard.
King-street. - Nurse's-yard . A long, narrow court. Bad pavement, and bad drainage. Yard about 6 feet wide, and a high wall in front of the houses. Twelve families, one privy, and one tap. Rent for two rooms 7l. 6s. clear of rates. In the centre of the best street in the town. The drain through the yard belongs to the Paving Commissioners. One of the tenants says she would leave, but she cannot, because she is backward in her rent; several of the others are also in the same state. Another says she pays 2s. 1d. for one room. At one time there were 54 children in this yard.
Mr. Robert Porter , wholesale butcher, kills many hundred sheep per week, and there is no smell nor anything offensive. Sends the hinder halves to London, and sells the breasts and shoulders cheap to the Lynn poor, at 4d. per lb. 500 sheep, and from 12 to 20 beasts killed per week. Has been here about three years.
Examined the West Norfolk and Lynn hospital. Water from the works, and goes into a cistern. 40 beds made up, and now occupied. The new wing, now being erected, will provide 14 or 16 more beds. Examined the rooms; all very clean, and the ventilation by the ceiling good.


Thurlow Nelson, governor, said, in answer to my inquiries, "The number of inmates, including those in the infirmary, is 183. I do not know the number of casual poor. There are separate dining-rooms for males and females. The building is old, but everything in these rooms clean. They were colour-washed three weeks since. The front wall is damp. The old men and boys yard is very spacious, but with walls 12 or more feet high. I have been governor three years. The pump is from a pool below, and the boys wash here in a morning. There are twoprivies, one for men, and one for boys. The urine flows in a brick channel over the surface to a cesspool. The soil-pit is emptied about once in five months; a hole dug down to it in the lane. We pay 7s. 6d. per time. We empty the drainage cesspool once in three or four days. Get out 30 pails, or so. It is not carried off the premises, but thrown anywhere. We do not take out all that goes in; some goes away in the sock. Old men's day-roomsare only one story high, and can be ventialted by roof-light."
Young men's day-rooms. In yard a similar pump and a wooden trough for washing the hands and face. Surface drainage into a grating; wher it goes thence is unknown. Examined privy; it has a cesspool, which is emptied every few months by buckets, and costs 7s. 6d. per time. Old men's sleeping rooms very spacious for the number of beds; about 11 feet high; 19 beds, 4 of which are double. Floors very much worm-eaten. A small room with three beds, used when necessary, as a fever-room. Lime-washing is now going on; it is done about three times in the season, and this is the usual period. Old men's sick rooms contain 9 beds. Ventilation by a perforated pipe along the ceiling to the external air. The men say they seldom feel any draft, except when the wind is in the west. No means for easement except a chair with an earthen pan in it. Boy's sleeping room in the roof; 11 beds. In the tower is a room containing 13 beds, between the above and the young men's room. The rooms are all very clean. The floors very dilapidated, but patched with wood.
Old women's sick-rooms: 14 beds. Very large and lofty, but the air not very good. There are two smaller rooms, with two and three beds. The lying-in ward has two beds. All water has to be carried up-stairs. Women's day-room: Smell from children very bad. Stoves in the middle of the room. Girls' ward: Clean and with a nice garden. All the girls very clean and tidy.
Two tramp-rooms, with two beds each, adjoining the infirmary. Infirmary receiving-ward, three beds; probationary ward, four beds, all clean. Men's bed-room on the ground floor; nine beds. Women's wards over, and similar.