Saturday, 8 November 2008

and now for something different

For the last month I've been at this computer solid, (so solid I've injured my mouse thumb and have to have it x-rayed LOL - no kidding!!)
For years I've been collecting names and dates and snippets about my genealogy and decided it was time to write it all up and be DONE (not as easy as it sounds because people keep popping out of the woodwork)

But this week I was doing searches on some local data bases and found that one of my ancestors was on a public health committee in 1875 "To inquire into the state of crowded dwellings and areas in the city of Sydney and suburbs, so far as it affects public health"

I've just read through some of the reports and looked at the photos on the NSW State Library web site. It's so sad to read of the conditions and the poverty that existed in Sydney back then.

Here is one part of the report and the accompanying photo:

"The next place we went to was Brisbane-place, in Kent Street (owner, J.J. Parker). It consists of three two-roomed houses, about 8 ft. square and 5 ft. 6 in. high each room, and rented at 6s. These are wretched filthy hovels, having no opening in the back walls, with one small water-closet of the worst description - narrow and dirty. A deep drain has been made under the centre of the gateway, which no doubt was intended to carry off the storm waters. This property should be pulled down, as it is quite unfit for human beings to live in."

Do you know what I find really poignant - the dog kennel! no matter their own living conditions these people still thought enough of their animal to build it a kennel!

and this one:
" ... we inspected a row of cottages, which, in a sanitary point of view, are quite unfit for human habitations.
The front doors were open, and we could see that the lower rooms were not more than 6 or 8 ft. wide. We could also perceive a ladder leading to a very small apartment above; but the window upstairs does not open, and there can be no ventilation of any kind.
Some light may enter from the small panes of glass in front, but there is no sash to raise or let down, and the ingress of fresh air is impossible.
Just in front of the doors and running parallel with the row of cottages, of which there are six, is an open drain which discharges into a large hole in the wall enclosing the yard, direct into the Tank Stream.
When this sewer is full a regurgitation takes place, so that the inmates of these hovels have in front of their doors, within 3 ft. of them, a sort of tidal stream of filthy drainage, polluting the atmosphere and inviting pestilence and disease.
These cottages should be pulled down at once and should not be replaced by any others. The closets used by the inmates are beyond description. This was our second visit to this place, which, it must be remembered, is in the centre of the business part of the city, not more than fifty or sixty yards from the Exchange, and some attempt had been made to give it a cleaner appearance. The above description may therefore be taken to represent the place at its best."

but despite all - someone is growing plants in a window box....

The full set of photos is on the State Library picman data base here

It's an interesting insight to an aspect of early Sydney that I think most people would like to forget. between my current obsession with history and my sore mouse thumb, there's been no sewing happening.


Anonymous said...

its amazing the conditions - not that many generations ago . may be you could use all this historical research to stitch a family tree. I have thought of doing that ... but havent worked out exactly how yet.

Erica said...

thanks Paula, yes I've thought of stitching a tree too, but like you I haven't worked out how, I've seen some family tree quilts which were photos printed on fabric and a very formal quilting style which weren't really *me*, so am still thinking.

Christine said...

A late comment Erica, VBG. Did you know that George McCredie (of Linnwood fame) was charged in 1900 with cleansing the Rocks in Sydney? The Plague was rife, wonder if any of the properties you mentioned were pulled down at the time, or later in 1900 following George's recommendations?
Interesting stuff, thanks for sharing,

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