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Manuscripts and Special Collections

: J.R. Martin, 'Report on the Sanatory Condition of Nottingham, Coventry, Leicester, Derby, Norwich, and Portsmouth'


In all the parishes there are numbers of streets to be found of the worst construction as regards ventilation, construction of habitation, sewerage, supply of water, paving, and lighting; but, as might be expected, these defects are most conspicuous in the older quarters, and in the lower levels, as under the Castle, and down to the Narrow-Marsh, Canal Street, Leen-side, and in the greater part of St. Ann's and Byron Wards...

I believe that nowhere else shall we find so large a mass of inhabitants crowded into courts, alleys, and lanes, as in Nottingham, and those, too, of the worst possible construction. Here they are clustered upon each other; court within court, yard within yard, and lane within lane, in a manner to defy description, - all extending right and left from the long narrow streets above referred to. The courts are always, without exception, approached through a low-arched tunnel of some 30 or 36 inches wide, about 8 feet high, and from 20 to 30 feet long, so as to place ventilation or direct solar exposure out of possibility on the space described. The courts are noisome, narrow, unprovided with adequate means for the removal of refuse, ill-ventilated, and wretched in the extreme, with a gutter, or surface-drain, running down the centre: they have no back yards, and the privies are common to the whole court: altogether they present scenes of a deplorable character, and of surprising filth and discomfort. It is just the same with lanes and alleys, with the exception that these last are not closed at each end, like the courts. In all these confined quarters, too, the refuse matter is allowed to accumulate until, by its mass and its advanced putrefacation, it shall have acquired value as manure; and thus it is sold and carted away by the "muck majors", as the collectors of manure are called in Nottingham.