London Labour and the London Poor, volume 2
of every Carriage-way, Court, and Alley shall be swept (Sundays excepted), and all mud, dust, filth, and rubbish, all frozen or partially frozen matter, and snow, animal and vegetable matter, and everything offensive or injurious, shall be properly pecked, scraped, swept up, and carted away therefrom; and the iron gutters laid across or along the footways, the air-grates over the sewers, the gulley-
|grates in the carriage-way of the streets respectively; and all public urinals are to be daily raked out, swept, and made clean and clear from all obstructions; and the Contractor or Contractors shall, in time of frost, continually keep the channels in the Streets and Places clear for water to run off: and cleanse and cart away refuse hogan or gravel (when called upon by the Inspector to do so) from all streets newly paved.|
The Mud and Dirt, &c., is to be carted away immediately that it is swept up.
N.B. The Inspector of the District may, at any time he may think it necessary, order any Street or Place to be cleansed and swept a time in any day, and the Contractor or Contractors are thereupon bound to do the same.
The Markets and their approaches are also to be thus cleansed DAILY, and the approaches thereto respectively are also to be thus cleansed at such an hour in the night of Saturday in each week as the Inspector of the District may direct.
Every Street, Lane, Square, Yard, Court, Alley, Passage, and Place (except certain main Streets hereinafter enumerated), are to be thus cleansed within the following hours Daily: namely—
The following main Streets are to be cleansed DAILY throughout the year (except Sundays), to be begun not earlier than o'Clock in the morning, and finished not later than o'Clock in the morning.
N.B. In times of frost and snow these hours of executing the work may be extended at the discretion of the Local Commissioners."
The other conditions relate to the removal of the dust from the houses (a subject I have already treated), and specify the fines, varying from to , to be paid by the contractors, for the violation or neglect of any of the provisions of the contract. It is further required that "Each Foreman, Sweeper, and Dustman, in the employ of either of the Contractors," (of whom there are , Messrs. Sinnott, Rooke, Reddin, and Gould), "will be required to wear a Badge on the arm with these words thereon,—
by which means any having cause of complaint against any of the men in the performance of their several duties, may, by taking down the number of the man and applying at the Sewers' Office, , have reference to his name and employer.
Any man working without his Badge, for each day he offends, the Contractor is liable to the penalty of Shillings.
All the sweepings of the Streets, and all the dust and ashes from the Houses, are to be entirely carted away from the City of London, on a Penalty of for each cart-load.
These terms sufficiently show the general nature of the contracts in question; the principal difference being that in some parts, the contractor is not required to sweep the streets more than once, twice, or thrice a week in ordinary weather.
The number of individuals in London styling themselves Master Scavengers is . Of these, are at present without a contract either for dust or scavenging, and have a contract for removing the dust only; so that, deducting these numbers, the gross number is reduced to scavenging contractors. Of the latter number are in a large way of business, having large yards, possessing several carts and some waggons, and employing a vast number of men daily in sweeping the streets, carting rubbish, &c. The other masters, however, are only in a small way of business, being persons of more limited means. A master scavenger employs from to carts, and from to upwards of men at scavengery alone, while a small master employs only from to carts and from to men. By the table I have given, p. , vol. ii., it is shown that there are between the several district authorities and master scavengers, and , without counting members of the same family, as distinct individuals; this gives an average of nearly distinct contracts per individual. The contracts are usually for a twelvemonth.
Although the table above referred to shows but contractors for public scavenging, there are, as I have said, more, or about , in London, most of them in a "large way," and next year some of those who have no contracts at present may enter into agreements with the parishes. The smallness of this number, when we consider the vast extent of the metropolis, confirms the notion of the sort of monopoly and combination to which I have alluded. In the Post-Office Directory for there are no names under the heads of
|Scavengers or Dustmen, but under the head of "Rubbish Carters," are given, names being marked as "Dust Contractors" and as "Nightmen."|
Of large contractors, however, there are, as I have said, about , but they may not all obtain contracts every year, and in this number are included different members of the same family or firm, who may undertake specific contracts, although in the trade it is looked upon as " concern." The smaller contractors were represented to me as rather more numerous than the others, and perhaps numbered , but it is not easy to define what is to be accounted a contractor. In the table given in pp. , , I cite only as being the better known. The others may be considered as small rubbish-carters and flying-dustmen.
There are yet other transactions in which the contractors are engaged with the parishes, independently of their undertaking the whole labour of street and house cleansing. In the parishes where pauper, or "poor" labour is resorted to— for it is not always that the men employed by the parishes are positive "paupers," but rather the unemployed poor of the parish—in such parishes, I say, an agreement is entered into with a contractor for the deposit of the collected street dirt at his yard or wharf. For such deposit the contractor must of course be paid, as it is really an occupation and renting of a portion of his premises for a specific purpose. The street dirt, however, is usually left to the disposal of the contractor, for his own profit, and where he once paid for the possession of the street-collected dirt of a parish, collected by labour which was no cost to him, he may now half of such , or whatever the terms of the agreement may be. I heard of contractor who lately received where he once paid
In another way, too, contractors are employed by parishes. Where pauper or poor labour in street cleansing is the practice, a contractor's horses, carts, and cart-drivers are hired for the conveyance of the dirt from the streets. This of course is for a specific payment, and is in reality the work of the tradesmen who in the Directory are described as "Rubbish Carters," and of whom I shall have to speak afterwards. Some parishes or paving boards have, however, their own horses and vehicles, but in the other respects they have dealings with the contractors.
To come to as correct a conclusion as possible in this complicated and involved matter, I have obtained the aid of some gentlemen long familiar with such procedures. of them said that to procure the accounts of such transactions for a series of years, with all their chops and changes, or to obtain a perfectly precise return, for any years, affecting the whole metropolis, would be the work of a parliamentary commission with full powers "to send for papers," &c., &c., and that even the result might not be satisfactory as a clear exposition. However, with the aid of the gentlemen alluded to, I venture upon the following approximation.
As my present inquiry relates only to the Scavenging Contractors in the metropolis, I will take the number of districts, markets, &c., which are specified in the table, p. , vol. ii. These are in number, of which are shown to be scavenged by the "parish." I will not involve in this computation any of the more rural places which may happen to be in the outskirts of the metropolitan area, but I will take the contracts as , where the contractors do the entire work, and as where they are but the rubbish-carters and dirt receivers of the parishes.
I am assured that it is a fair calculation that the scavengery of the streets, apart from the removal of the dust from the houses, costs in payments to the contractors, as an average, to each of the several districts; and that in the localities in which the streets are cleansed by parish labour, the sum paid is at the rate of per locality, some of them, as the districts of Marylebone for instance, being very large. This is calculated regardless of the cases where parishes may have their own horses and vehicles, for the cost to the rate-payers may not be very materially different, between paying for the hire of carts and horses, and investing capital in their purchase and incurring the expense of wear and tear. The account then stands thus:—
From this it would appear that the cost of cleansing the streets of London may be estimated in round numbers at per annum.
The next point in the inquiry is, What is the value of the street dirt annually collected?
The price I have adduced for the dirt gained from the streets is per load, which is a very reasonable average. If the load be dung, or even chiefly dung, it is worth or With the proportion of dung and street refuse to be found in such a thoroughfare as the , in dry, or comparatively dry weather, a load, weighing about a ton, is worth about in the purchaser's own cart. On the other hand, as I have shown that quantities of mixed or slop "mac" have to be wasted, that some is sold at a nominal price, and a good deal at the load, is certainly a fair average.
Thus the annual sum of the street-dirt, as re-
|gards the quantity collected by the contracting scavengers (as shown in the table given at page ), is, in round numbers, cart-loads; that collected by parish labour, with or without the aid of the street-sweeping machines, at cart-loads, or a total (I do not include what is collected by the orderlies) of loads.|
This result shows, then, that the contractors yearly collect by scavenging the streets with their own paid labourers, and receive as the produce of pauper labour, as follows:—
It would appear, then, that the total receipts of the contractors for the scavenging of London amount to very nearly ; that is to say, as remuneration for the office, and as the value of the dirt collected. But against this sum as received, we have to set the gross expense of wages paid to men, wear and tear of carts and appliances, rent of wharfs, interest for money, &c.
Concerning the amount paid in wages, it appears by the table at pp. , , that the men employed by the scavenging contractors in wet weather, are daily (being nearly half of the whole force of men, the orderlies excepted). In dry weather, however, there are only men employed. I will therefore calculate upon men employed daily, and employed half the year, making the total of . By the table here given, it will be seen that the total number of scavengers employed by the large and small contractors, is .
There remains now to show the amount of capital which a large contractor must embark in his business: I include the amount of rent, and the expenditure on what must be provided for business purposes, and which is subject to wear and tear, to decay, and loss.
There are not now, I am told, more than scavengers' wharfs and yards (the wharf being also a yard) in the possession of the contractors in regular work. These are the larger contractors, and their capital, I am assured, may be thus estimated:—
I have estimated according to what may be the value, not the original cost, of the implements, vehicles, &c. A broom, when new, costs , and is worn out in or weeks. A shovel, when new, costs
The following appears to be the
I have endeavoured in this estimate to confine myself, as much as possible, to the separate subject of scavengery, but it must be borne in mind that as the large contractors are dustmen as well as scavengers, the great charges for rent and barges cannot be considered as incurred solely on account of the street-dirt trade. Including, then, the payments from parishes, the account will stand thus:—
This gives a profit of nearly to each contractor, if equally apportioned, or a little more than on each contract for street-scavenging
|alone, and a profit no doubt affected by circumstances which cannot very well be reduced to figures. The profit may appear small, but it should be remembered that it is of the profits on the dust.|