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Sewage and Pollution
photo of new housing (Glasgow City Libraries and Archives)
People were concerned about the housing conditions they were living in and about the high number of deaths from disease.

Local authorities attempted to improve living conditions with a number of Acts of Parliament which gave them power to force landlords to clean up streets and houses. Sometimes improvement came as a result of official annual reports. Source 4B is an example where a Medical Officer of Health recommends improvements in the county of Forfar.

There are two sources in this section.

Source 4A
Introduction to the Lindsay Act of 1862
Click to view Source 4A
Source 4A is the introduction to an Act of Parliament known as the Lindsay Act of 1862.

Click to enlarge the image, then answer the following question.


  1. Explain why this Act of Parliament led to improvements in the health of people in Scottish towns.
Source 4B
Report by the county Medical Officer of Health
Click to view Source 4B
Source 4B is part of a report by the county Medical Officer of Health and Sanitary Inspector for Forfar in 1891. They are discussing improvements to the removal of refuse.

Click to enlarge the image, then answer the following questions.


For questions 1-3, read pages 13 and 14 of the report. For questions 4 & 5, read page 15.

  1. Who should be responsible for the removal of refuse and the contents of ashpits?

  2. How often should refuse be removed?

  3. Who should be responsible for public privies and water closets?

  4. What do Edzell, Southmuir and Kirriemuir have in common?

  5. How useful is Source 4B for investigating improvements to public health in Scotland in the late 19th century?
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