The Stench Is Unbearable: The George Clark Report of Bridgend.


I have previously written a post about the George T Clark Sanitation Report of Bridgend – today I have acquired a copy of the full report, which again makes an excellent read. The report was commissioned by the General Board of Health in the August of 1849 – this was around the time of the cholera outbreak in the area.

The report gives a less than picturesque look at what we now know as Bridgend - It is described in two hamlets: Newcastle and Oldcastle. The 18 page report includes: local government information, population, mortality rates, tax rates and other various information.

People that assisted Clark with the sanitation inquiry of the Rev. John Harding, Rev. Robert Knight, and Wm. Llewellyn, Esq, Captain C. F. Napier, Mr. Thomas Stockwood, Mr. Lewis; Mr. Price; Mr. Edwards.

The town of Bridgend was (and still is) geographically split in to two parts and is approx. four miles from the sea. It is stated that the 'principal' part of the town is situated in Oldcastle and being on the left side of the riverbank is home to the town hall and the market. At that time the town contained no notable manufactories. Before the creation of the Bridgend Urban District Council, both hamlets were governed by two separate bodies.

Statistics from the report. 



















I have chosen some snippets/observations to share with you. 

Water is in general supplied to the houses from the river by females, who are employed to carry it in pails, containing from six to eight gallons, and for which they are paid at the rate of 1\2d. per pail.

Below the new, and between it and the old bridge, several privies overhang the bank, and about 30 feet lower down the stream is a place where the people draw water from the river. The whole condition of the shingle bank of the river in dry weather, when the stream is low, is very offensive.
Catherine Cross, near the bridge foot, complains of want of water, and the very offensive pig-styles, and the river bank, which is a general receptacle for filth.

The roads in the town are no longer in the hands of the turnpike trustees, but are maintained by the two hamlets.They are ill-made, many of them have never been properly formed or drained, and at the time of my visit they stood much in need of thorough repair.

The buildings between the Town Hall and the river are very badly drained. Evan Morgan occupies a house in High Street, rented at £20 which has no privy, the refuse being thrown into the road or the adjacent river. John Morgan rents a £10 house in the same condition. There is no pump. The inhabitants are allowed to go to the Globe Inn pump. Mr Thomas, Tailor, rents a £5 house, without privy or back premises. he obtains water from the Globe, and the house filth is thrown into the river and the street gutter. The other houses are much in the same condition. The street is badly paved, the yards unpaved and filthy.

David's Court is unpaved, occasionally flooded, and in one corner there is a filthy ash-heap. There is no privy and the refuse is thrown into the gutter. The inhabitants pay about £3 (per annum) rental. They would willingly pay 2d a week for a water supply. David John keeps a public house and would gladly pay 6d. Jenkin David rents a £6 house without back premises. The refuse is thrown into the street. he thinks a water supply would be well worth 2d or 3d a week.

Adare Street, much of which is new, is unpaved and, at the time of my visit, was a pool of water and mud.

Elder Street has a culvert, but the drainage from the houses does not enter it, but trickles by an open gutter down the road. Elizabeth Llewellyn occupies one of a group of cottages at the top of this street. The rent is £4. They are without privies and obtain their water from the river or the market pump. She would much rather pay 3d a week for a proper supply of water.

Union Street, on the Cowbridge Road, contains nine houses with only one privy, which is also public.

Paradise Road is a cluster six houses, with only one privy. Here the refuse is cast into an open pool. There is no supply of water.

In Whitehall, Mr Rees lives in a house rented at £6 (per annum) - but without a proper water supply. He would pay 6d a week for it as his wife takes in washing. Davy Spencer complains of want for water.

Phillips Yard, adjoining the Turnpike Road, is in a filthy condition, as also is the road itself, from the house slops discharge into it from each side. Near the toll-bar is Irish Court, so called for its inhabitants. At its entry is an open and very offensive dung-heap. Here are eight houses with a crowded population and without either water or privies. The court is unpaved and the lodgers taken in are of a very bad description. The Tennis Court is also chiefly inhabited by the Irish. Here 17 houses without a privy and the whole place, inside and outside, is in a filthy condition. The alleys, roadsides and corners in this neighbourhood are very much used instead of privies and are in a filthy condition.

Near Oldcastle Chapel, Richard Dunn occupies a house of £4 rental, and complains of wat of water, for a proper supply of which he would gladly pay 6d a week. At present he purchases it at a halfpenny a bucket. His house has no privy.

David Dunn, Carpenter, rents a £6 house. Under his back window there is a filthy cesspool of which he and his family complain. His only water supply is from the river. He would willingly pay pay 2d a week for a proper water supply.

Bad as is the state of things in Oldcastle, it is bad, perhaps  in some parts worse, on the Newcastle side of the river. The cottages above and about the castle and church are absolutely without drains at all, and many of the people bring their water from the river, 100 feet or more below them.

(Sources: G.T.Clark - Glamorgan Gazette)

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