[Index] [Poor Law Before 1832][Poor Law After 1832] [COS Main] Last Revised 14 July 1999
Charity Organisation Society: Chronology (Housing and Sanitation)
Edited by Tamihiro Shigemori (sigemori@sps.ritsumei.ac.jp)

1865A report on dwelling for the labouring classes:
By the Society of Arts.
1866Labouring Classes' Dwelling-House Act:
Permitted local authorities to construct houses and to borrow for the purpose.
1868C.B.P.Bosanquet, London, its Growth, Charitable Agencies and Wants:
"the wretched conditions under which many of the wage-earning class were forced to live, owing to the inadequate and insanitary housing accommodation".
Artisans' and Labourers' Dwelling Act (the Torrens Act):
Demolition of insanitary property.
1870The First Annual Report:
Housing ans Sanitation: the daily experience of their Committees in the various districts of the Metropolis shows that the great questions of Sanitary Improvement, Emigration, Education, Provident Societies, mproved Dwellings for the Poor and other collateral subjects must at an early date engage their most earnest attention [SW 159].
1871C.B.P.Bosanquet, The best means of improving the sanitary conditions under which the London poor live:
Overcrowding, insufficient air and light, and defective water supply and sanitary arrangements were ... the chief evils to be remedied. For the remedy private enterprise, sanitary law, and a body of Metropolitan Improvement Commissioners recommended. He thought the best agency to intervene would be a small body of Improvement Commissioners, apointed ad hoc, with powers of compulsory purchase [SW 159-60]. Consideration of the issue entrusted to Administrative Committee, which issued a letter [31 July] to District Committee, suggesting that they should instruct their charity agents and visitors to bring to the notice of the Office of Health any defective sanitary arrangements that misht come under their notice.
Sub-committee appointed [COS, 20 November]:
The medical officer of health for Marylebone was persuaded to condemn some of [Octavia Hill's] houses as insanitary ---an order afterwards withdrawn--- and the Council apparently feared that this criticism of the work of a member would reflecte on the COS as a whole. ... a sub-committee was appointed to inquire into the sanitary and financial success of her plan for improving the conditions of the poor. The committee inspected some of her houses, and gave them and her a clean bill of health.[M 55]
[Prospectus of National Health Society; Report of a Sanitary Commission]
1872Street Improvement Act:
Required the Metropolitan Board of Works to acquire and sell or let land for the building of working-class houses in replacement of those demilished in street improvement schemes.
Committee of MP for improving the dwellings of the poor in London:
[November] Its members: Lord Salisbury, Lord Shaftesbury, Lord Derby, Lord Rosebery, Kay-Shuttleworth, Octavia Hill, 2 MOHs, many MPs, and representatives of the dwelling companies. COS "was well represented by General Cavenagh, Dr. Hawksley, A.H.Hill, W.M.Wilkinson, Charles Trevelyan and others. C.B.P. Bosanquet acted as Secretary". "At its sixth meeting Lord Napier and Ettrick was appointed permanent Chairman". The Committee met from 3 February to 23 July 1873. The report suggested the need of increased powers of destroying unfit dwellings and acquiring sites for new one. Mowat wrote the appointment was by the Council and in "early in 1873" [M 55].
1874The Memorial on Dewellings:
Prepared on behalf of the Council and the Special Committee on Dwellings. Summary of the existing evils, the inadequate of power entrusted to local authorities, and the powerlessness of private enterprise: "the evil can only be adequately dealt with by making it the duty of some public body, possessing a wider sphere of action and in a more independent position than the Local Boards and Vestries, and vested when necessary with powers of compulsory purchase, to initiate comprehensive improvement in the interest of the poorer classes" [SW 166]. The Memorial was introduced by Lord Shaftesbury.
1875Artisan's Dwelling Act:
In October 1874 the Society was represented on a deputation from the Metropolitan Municipal Association to urge the question of central authority for all London and Improved Dwellings; and in December Mr.Cross sent for Mr.Bosanquet. Their interview was followed by the introduction on February 10, 1875, of the Bill. Many citations found in its preamble.
1880Another Campaign on the Housing:
"That overcrowding lowers the general standard, that the people get depressed and weary, is the testimony of those who are daily witness of the lives of the poor" [Report of the Commission on the Housing of the Working Classes of 1885]. "Among these 'daily witness' were the members of the Charity Organisation Society; and it was their experience of these evil conditions which led them in 1880 to re-opne the Housing Question" [SW 173][M 57].
Barnett's motion for re-appointment of the Special Committee:
7th June. The motion was seconded by Kay Shuttleworth. "He urged that the Society, being largely responsible for the Act, was under an obligation to see what experience had been gained regarding it". The first report submitted in July, the further one in November. The Council decided to apply to the Government for a Department Committee to investigate thoroughly the causes of the delay, expense, and other evils attending the administration of the Artisans' Dwelling Act. The act "afforded a premium to the bad landlords to get their property into bad order, so that it might be condemned under the Act, and the owners compensated more highly than people would be for a forced sale of property which had been kept in proper order"[SW 175-176].
1881Select Committee of the House of Commons appointed:
A Bill for the amendment of Artisans' Dwelling Act introduced.
1882Artisans' Dwelling Act (amended):
Saniatary Aid Committee (COS):
The first one started by the Committee of St.George's, Hanover Square: its scope was "to prevent the spread of infectious and epidemic disease by affording help and directions to families in which epidemic and infectious disease has occurred; to seek out cases of these disease, to visit schools, and to help in using disinfectants". It was called the Westminster Sanitary Aid Association.
1883The Policy of the Society:
Charity Organisation Reporter (1883): "On one point of all the Reports of the Society have been agreed. Existing sanitary legislation should be enforced. A short paper by Mr. Wilkinson on Sanitary Legislation, published in 1880, was generally approved, though individual members held different views on the application of the Artisans' Dwelling Act. This part of the programme of reform it is now proposed to carry out by local Sanitary Aid and Dwellings Committees formed in connection with the Charity Organisation Society. These Committees will ... combine the efforts of those who wish for and are working for a change, and will attack the evils of insanitation on permanent and well-devised plan. ... The National Health Society are ... prepared to co-operate. ... Miss Toynbee's Committee in Marylebone has been at work six months. Mr. Cookworthy Robins and others set on foot a similar most successful plan in St.Pancras in 1854. There are data and experiences at hand. ... The work is difficult ad likely to bring the workers into contact and into combat with some local interests which stand in the way of reform. We hope all the more, therefore, that members of the Society will do their utmost to durther this new endeavour, and will so interest themselves in it, and make themselves acquired with the subject generally, as to be able to excite both interest and enthusiasm in others" [SW 178]
[The Bitter Cry of Outcast London published]:
A great sensational success achieved. "The 'Cry' was re-echoed from all quarters, gathering strength as it went, and culminating in the dignified utterances of statemen and philanthropists in dignified journals". Loch contributed a letter to Pall Mall Gazette. Barnett wrote in Nineteenth Century: "the first practical work is to rouse the Councils of the town to the sense of their powers; to make them feel that their reason of being is not political but social, that their duty is not to protect the pockets of the rich but to save the people". Lord Salisbury wrote in National Review, advocating employers including the State should provide houses for their workers, and Chamberlain, who regarded Salisbury's scheme 'socialistic', in Fortnightly Review: "the expense of making towns habitable for the toilers who dwell in them must be thrown on the land which their toil makes valuable, and without any effort on the part of the owners". In December the Nineteenth Century folowed on with four articles, including Octavia Hill's.
A meeting at the Mansion House:
The Mansion House Council established, with two Executive Committees---one to promote legislationm the other to institute local Sanitary AId Committees throughout the Metropolis. On both COS was well represented, the second practically taking over the work already done by it and becoming the Central Sanitary Aid Committee.
1884The Commission on the Housing of the Working Classes:
Their view as to the negligence of local authorites and the necessity of reform in London local government is strilingly similar to that expressed in the Charity Organisation Society's Report five years previously.
Weekly notes on Sanitary Aid and Dwellings in Reporter:
"Each local Committee puts itself into communication with the existing visiting agencies, and invites them, the clergy, the tenants themselves, or anybody else to send in complaints of insanitary conditions. To avoid trumpery cases being sent in to the authorities, each complaint is verified by a member of the Committee, and his or her report is considered by the whole Committee. If they consider the report worthy of attention, it is reported, usually to the local sanitary authorities, occasionally to the owner, or the Water Company, or the Police. If, when a reasonable period has elapsed, the local Committee finds itself unable to et the nuisance abated, the case is referred to the Cantral Committee, who will take such further proceedings as they may think proper. They intend to spare neither trouble nor money in securing the remedy od such cases as they may take up".
1889London County Council:
Metropolitan Board of Works replace by LCC. LCC is a directly elected body. Though the work improved greatly, the actual re-housing of the poor classes less successful. "... private enterprises has housed some 150,000 persons in improved dwellings in London on a commercial basis. The early activity of the building companies was largely due to the policy of the Metropolitan Board of Works, which adopted extensive improvement schemes and sold the cleared sites to the companies, which carried out the re-housing obligations imposed by law. Since the London County Council ... adopted the policy of undertaking its own re-housing, their activity has greatly diminished" [Encyclopedia Britanica]."the effect of municipal competition upon private enterprise".
"Down to March 1, 1908, it had housed 26,678 persons at a nominal cost of 2,438,263 pounds". "It appears from this, that if the actual commercial cost of the land were taken the housing of the Council would be run at a considerable loss". This loss might be of small account if it were the cost of rescuing the poorest classes from bad housing conditions; unfortunately an analysis of the occupations of tenants shoued that only 789 of the number were labourers, the remainder being of higher paid occupations.
1900C.S.Loch, Housing Question:
Read before the Council. "... in certain districts the pressure upon accommodation for the poorest classes was increasing and rents rising. ... Council was divided between two opposing views, the one in houses and concentrating the people in block dwellings, the other advocating the dispersal of the people as far as possible and the multiplication of open spaces. No further action was talen by the Society in this direction, but a few years later it entered upon a more directly constructive task".

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