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Manuscripts and Special Collections

: Extracts from the evidence of Thomas Hawksley (transcript only)

Thomas Hawksley, Esq., Civil Engineer, examined:

5214. What is the number of houses to which water is supplied from the works which you superintend at Nottingham? - About 8,000, con¬taining a population of about 35,000 persons.

[5232] ... We find that one experienced man, and one boy of 18 years of age are, on the system of constant supply, quite sufficient to manage the distribution of the supply to about 8,000 tenements, and keep all the works of distribution in perfect repair...

[5236] Now, do you find that tenants are apt, for the sake of the lead [pipes], to cut off their own supplies of water; and what, under all circumstances, is your experience on the point? - We have some of the poorest and worst conditioned people in Nottingham, and we scarcely ever experience anything of the kind. In fact, the water at high pres¬sure serves as a police on the pipe. The cutting off a cock with the water at high pressure is rather a difficult matter to do quietly: "knocking up" is too noisy; and when a knife is put into such a pipe, and a slit is made, a sharp, flat, wide stream issues, very inconvenient to the operator; and when the pipe is divided there is the full rush of the jet to denounce the thief. We have lead-pipes all over the town, in the most exposed places, and I can affirm that such an event rarely occurs out of the houses, and never within.

5242. What has been the effect produced on their habits by the introduction of water into the houses of the labouring classes? - At Nottingham the increase of personal cleanliness was at first very marked indeed; it was obvious in the streets. The medical men reported that the increase of cleanliness was very great in the houses, and that there was less disease.

5243. When, on the return home of the labourers' family, old or young, tired perhaps with the day's labour, the water has to be fetched from a distance out of doors in cold or in wet, in frost or in snow, is it not well known to those acquainted with the labourers' habit that the use of clean water, and the advantages of washing and cleanliness, will be foregone to avoid the annoyance of having to fetch the water? - Yes, that is a general and notorious fact. When the distance to be traversed is comparatively trifling, it still operates against the free use of water.

5244. Before the water was laid on in the houses of Nottingham, were the labouring classes accustomed to purchase water? - Before the sup¬ply was laid on in the houses water was sold chiefly to the labouring-classes by carriers at the rate of one farthing a bucket; and if the water had to be carried any distance up a court a halfpenny a bucket was, in some instances, charged. In general it was sold at about three gallons for a farthing. But the Company now delivers to all the town 76,000 gallons for £1; in other words, carries into every house 79 gallons for a farthing, and delivers water night and day, at every instant of time that it is wanted, at a charge 26 times less than the old delivery by hand.

5406. Under what circumstances do you consider the utility of the supply of water to be influenced by the defective state of the drainage? - Where one system terminated the other must commence. The use of water, however liberally supplied, will be limited and restricted by any inconvenience attending its removal. Its use as a means of cleansing and removing refuse, by the application of the water closet principle, will be directly dependent on the state of the drains...

[5418] ...My own observation and enquiry convince me that the charac¬ter and habits of a working family are more depressed and deteriorated by the defects of their habitations than by the greatest pecuniary privations to which they are subject. The most cleanly and orderly female will invariably despond and relax her exertions under the influence of filth, damp and stench and at length ceasing to make further effort, probably sink into a dirty, noisy, discontented and perhaps gin-drinking drab - the wife of a man who has no comfort in his house, the parent of children whose home is the street or the gaol. The moral and physical improvements certain to result from the intro¬duction of water and water-closets into the houses of the working classes are far beyond the pecuniary advantages [referring to the customary sale of night-soil. It was estimated that each tenement produced two good car-loads per annum], however consider¬able these may under circumstances appear.