London Labour and the London Poor, volume 2

Mayhew, Henry


Street Orderlies.—City Surveyor's Report.


I HAVE been favoured with a Report "upon streetcleansing and in reference to the Street-Orderly System," by the author, Mr. W. Haywood, the Surveyor to the City Commission of Sewers, who has invited my attention to the matter, in consequence of the statements which have appeared on the subject in "London Labour and the London Poor."

Mr. Haywood, whose tone of argument is courteous and moderate, and who does not scruple to do justice to what he accounts the good points of the street-orderly system, although he condemns it as a whole, gives an account of the earlier scavaging of the city, not differing in any material respect from that which I have already printed. He represents the public ways of the City, which I have stated to be about miles, as "about miles lineal, about superficial yards in area." This area, it appears, comprehends different places.

In the area of the carriage-way of the City was estimated at square yards, and the footway at , making a total of ; but since that period new streets have been made and others extensively widened. The precincts of , St. Bartholomew, St. James's, Duke's-place, , and others, have been added to the jurisdiction of the Sewers Commission by Act of Parliament, so that the Surveyor now estimates the area of the carriage-way of the City of London at square yards, and the footway at , making a total of square yards.

I am fully impressed," observes Mr. Haywood, "with the great importance to a denselypopu- lated city of an efficient cleansing of the public ways. Probably after a perfect system of sewage and drainage (which implies an adequate water supply), and a well-paved surface (which I have always considered to be little inferior in its importance to the former, and which is indispensable to obtaining clean sweeping), good surface cleansing ranks next in its beneficial sanitary influence; and most certainly the comfort gained by all through having public thoroughfares in a high degree of cleanliness is exceedingly great.

Mr. Haywood expresses his opinion that streets "ordure soddened"—smelling like "stable yards," —dangerous to the health of the inhabitants— impassable from mud in winter and from dust in summer—and inflicting constant pecuniary loss, "can only exist in an appreciable degree in thoroughfares swept much less frequently" than the streets within the jurisdiction of the City Commissioners of Sewers. In this opinion, however, Mr. Haywood comes into direct collision with the statements put forth by the Board of Health, who have insisted upon the insanitary state of the metropolitan streets, more strongly, perhaps, in their several Reports, than has Mr. Cochrane.

But Mr. Haywood believes that not only are the assertions of the Board of Health as to the unwholesome state of the metropolitan thoroughfares unfounded as regards the city of London, but he asserts that from the daily street-sweeping, "the surface there is maintained in as high an average condition of cleanliness, as the means hitherto adopted will enable to be attained."

"Nor does this apply," says Mr. Haywood, "to the main thoroughfares only. In the poorer courts and alleys within the city, where a high degree of cleanliness is, at least, as needful, in a sanitary point of view, as in the larger and wider thoroughfares, the facilities for efficient sweeping are as great, if not greater, than in other portions of your jurisdiction. For many years past the whole of the courts and alleys which carts do not enter, have been paved with flagstone, laid at a good inclination, and presenting an uniform smooth surface: in many of these courts where the habits of the people are cleanly, the scavenger's broom is almost unneeded for weeks together; in others, where the habit prevails of throwing the refuse of the houses upon the pavements, the daily sweeping is highly essential; but in all these courts the surface presents a condition which renders good clean sweeping a comparatively easy operation, that which is swept away being mostly dry, or nearly so."

After alluding to the street-orderly principle of scavaging, "to clean and keep clean," Mr. Haywood observes, "between the '' and the periodical or intermittent sweeping there is this difference, that upon the former system there should be (if it fulfils what it professes) no deposit of any description allowed to remain much longer than a few minutes upon the surface, and that there should be neither mud in the wet weather, nor dust in the dry weather, upon the public ways; whilst, upon the latter system, the deposit necessarily accumulates between the periods of sweeping, commencing as soon as sweeping has terminated, gradually increasing, and being at its point of extreme accumulation at the period when the next sweeping takes place: the former, then, is, or should be, a system of prevention; the latter, confessedly, but a system of palliation or cure.

The more frequent the periodical sweeping, therefore, the nearer it approximates in its results to the 'street-orderly system,' inasmuch as the accumulations, being frequently removed, must be smaller, and the evils of mud, dust, effluvia, &c., less in proportion.

Now to fulfil its promise: upon the 'streetorderly system,' there should be men both day and night within the streets, who should constantly remove the manure and refuse, and, failing this, if there be only cessation for six hours out of the twenty-four of the 'continuous cleansing,' it becomes at once a periodical cleansing but a degree in advance of the daily sweeping, which has been now for years in operation within the city of London.

This appears to me to be an extreme conclusion: —because the labours of the street-orderly system cease when the great traffic ceases, and when, of course, there is comparatively little or no dirt


deposited in the thoroughfares, therefore, says Mr. Haywood, "the City system of cleansing once per day is behind that system of which the principle is incessant cleansing at such time as the dirtying is incessant." The principles are surely as different as light and darkness: —in the the cleansing is intermittent and the dirt constant; in the other the dirt is intermittent and the cleanliness constant—constant, at least, so long as the causes of impurity are so.

Mr. Haywood, however, states that the Commissioners were so pleased with the appearance of the streets, when cleansed on the street-orderly system, which "was " that they introduced a somewhat similar system, calling their scavagers "daymen," as they had the care of the streets clean, a daily morning sweeping by the contractor's men. They commenced their work at A.M. and ceased at P.M. in the summer months, and at half-past P.M. in the winter. In the summer months daymen were employed on the average; in the winter months, . The highest number of scavaging daymen employed on any day was ; the lowest was . The area cleansed was about yards (superficial measure), and with the following results, and the following cost, from , to the same date, :—

   Yards Superficial. 
 The average area cleansed during the summer months, per man per diem, was . . . . . . 1298 
 Ditto during winter, per man per diem, was . . . . . 1016 
 The average of both summer and winter months was, per man per diem . . . . . . 1139 
 The cost of the experiment was for daymen (including brooms, barrows, shovels, cartage, &c.The wages paid are not stated. . £ 1450 18 
 One Foreman at . . . . 78 0 
 And the total cost of the experiment . £ 1528 18 

The daily sweeping," Mr. Haywood says, "which for the previous two years had been established throughout the City, gave at that time very great satisfaction. It was quite true that the streets which the daymen attended to, looked superior to those cleansed only periodically, but the practical value of the difference was considered by many not to be worth the sum of money paid for it. It was also felt that, if it was continued, it should upon principle be extended at least to all streets of similar traffic to those upon which it had been tried; and as, after due consideration, the Commission thought that one daily sweeping was sufficient, both for health and comfort, the day or continuous sweeping was abandoned, and the whole City only received, from that time to the present, the usual daily sweeping.

The "present" time is shown by the date of Mr. Haywood's Report, . The reason assigned for the abandonment of the system of the daymen is peculiar and characteristic. The system of continuous cleansing gave very great satisfaction, although it was but a degree in advance of the once-a-day cleansing. The streets which the daymen attended to "looked," and of course were, "superior" in cleanliness to those scavaged periodically. It was also felt that the principle should "be extended at least to all streets of similar traffic;" and why was it not so extended? Because, in a word, "it was not worth the money;" though by what standard the value of public cleanliness was calculated, is not mentioned.

The main question, therefore, is, what is the difference in the cost of the systems, and the admitted "superior cleanliness" produced by the continuous mode of scavaging, in comparison with that obtained by the intermittent mode, of sufficient public value to warrant the increased expense (if any)—in a word, as the City people say—is it

, as to the comparative cost of the systems: after a statement of the contracts for the dusting and cleansing of the City (matters I have before treated of) Mr. Haywood, for the purpose of making a comparison of the present City system of scavaging with the street-orderly system, gives the table in the opposite page to show the cost of street cleansing and dusting within the jurisdiction of the City Court of Sewers.

Mr. Haywood then invites attention to the subjoined statement of the National Philanthropic Association, on the occurrence of a demonstration as to the efficiency and economy of the streetorderly system.

"Association for the Promotion of Street Paving, Cleansing, Draining, &c., , , , .

Approximation to the total Expenses connected with cleansing, as an experiment, certain parts of the City of London, commencing , for the period of months.

   £. s. d. 
 "350 brooms, being an average of 5 brooms for each man ......................... 25 18 10 
 For carting .............................. 99 1 9 
 For advertising .......................... 65 0 0 
 For rent of store-room, 3l. 14s.; Clerks' salaries, 12l.; Messengers, 5l. 5s.; wooden clogs for men, 2l. 5s. 10d.; expenses of washing wood pavement, 5l............. 28 4 10 
 Expenses of barrows .................... 24 14 0 
 Christmas dinner to men, foremen, and superintendents (97) .................. 15 12 6 
 83 men (averaging at 2s. 6d. per day) for 9 weeks ................................ 573 15 0 
 4 superintendents at 25s. 4d., foreman at 18s., cart foreman 20s., storekeeper 18s., chief superintendents 2l., for 9 weeks .. 112 10 0 
 For various small articles, brushes, rakes, &c..................................... 36 7 8 
 Petty expenses of the office, postages, &c., and stationery ........................ 6 0 0 
 Approximation to the total cost of the expense.................................. £ 987 4 7 
 Signed, M. DAVIES, Secretary."       

I will now," says Mr. Haywood, "without further present reference to the Report of the Association, proceed to form an estimate of the expenses of the system as they would have been if it had been extended to the whole City, and which estimate will be based upon the informa-


 Date. Mode of Contracting, whether Contracts for Dusting and Scavenging were let separately or together. Leading or Principal feature in the Regulations for the Dusting and Cleansing. Sum paid for Scavenging and Dusting, or for Scavenging only during the year. Sum received by Commission for Sale of Dust when the Contracts were let separately. Total Disbursements by the Commission for Scavenging and Dusting. 
 Year ending       £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d. 
 Michaelmas, 1841 separately Main streets of largest traffic running east and west cleansed daily, other principal streets every other day, the whole of the remainder of the public ways twice a week; dust to be removed at least twice a week. 4590 6 0 Amounts paid and received are balanced 4590 6 0 
 " 1842 separately 3633 17 0 3633 17 0 
 " 1843 together 2084 4 6 2084 4 6 
       Average per Annum for 3 Years. 3436 2 6 
 " 1844 separately Main line of streets cleansed daily, other principal streets every other day, and all other place twice in every week; dust to be removed at least twice a week. 3826 12 6 Amounts paid and received are balanced 3826 12 6 
 " 1845 separately 2033 2 0 2833 2 0 
       Average per Annum of the 2 Years 3329 17 3 
 " 1846 separately   6034 6 0 1354 5 0 4680 1 0 
 " 1847 separately   8014 2 0 4455 5 0 3558 17 0 
 " 1848 separately Daily cleansing throughout every public way of every description; dust to be [removed twice a week. 7226 1 6 1328 15 0 5897 6 6 
 " 1849 together 7486 11 6       7486 11 6 
 " 1850 together   6779 16 0       6779 16 0 
 " 1851 together   6328 17 0       6328 17 0 
       Average per Annum of the last 6 Years . 5788 11 6 

NOTE.—From , to , the Commission made their own experiment upon the Street- Orderly System—the expenses of such experiment are included in the above amounts. In the area of the jurisdiction of the Commission was increased by the addition of various precincts under the City of London Sewers' Act. tion as to the expenses of the system, furnished by the experiment or demonstration made by the Association within your jurisdiction.

The total cost of the experiment was £ 987 4s. 7d., and, deducting the charges under the head of advertising, Christmas dinner, and petty cash expenses, and also that for office-rent, clerks, messengers, &c., and assigning £ 50 as the value of the implements at that time for future use, there is left a balance of £ 822 7s. 3d. as the clear cost of the experiment.

The experiment was tried for a period of eight weeks exactly, according to the return made to the Commission by the Superintendent of the Association, but as in the statement of expenses the wages appear to be included for a period of nine weeks, I have assumed nine weeks as the correct figure, and the experiment must therefore have cost a sum of £ 822 7s. 3d. for that period, or at the rate of about £ 91 per week. Squ. Yards "Now the total area of the carriageway of the City of London was at that time . . . . . . . . 418,000 "And the area of the foot-way . . 316,000 ------ "Making a total of 734,000 "And the area of the carriage-way cleaned by the street-orderlies was 30,670 "And the area of the foot-way . . 18,590 ------ "Making a total of 49,260

The total area of foot-way and carriage-way cleansed was therefore 1-15th of the whole of the carriage-way and foot-way of the City; or, taken separately, the carriage-way cleansed was somewhat more than 1-14th of the whole of the City carriage-way. "It has been seen also that the total cost of cleansing this 1-14th portion of the carriage-way, after deducting all extraneous expenses, was at the rate per week of . . . . . . £ 91 Or at the rate, per annum, of . . . . £ 4732

To assign an expenditure in the same proportion for the remaining 13-14ths of the whole carriage-way area of the City would not be just, for, in the first place, allowance must be made, owing to the dirt brought off from the adjacent streets, which, it is assumed, would not have been the case had they also been cleansed upon the street-orderly system; and moreover, as the majority of the streets cleansed were those of large traffic, a larger proportion of labour was needed to them than would have been the case had the experiment been upon any equal area of carriage-way, taken from a district comprehending streets of all sizes and degrees of traffic; but if I assume that the 1-14th portion of the City cleansed represents 1-11th of the whole in the labour needed for cleansing the whole of the City upon the same system, I believe I shall have made a very fair deduction, and shall, if anything, err in favour of the experiment.

Estimating, therefore, the expense of cleansing the whole of the City carriage-way upon the street-orderly system according to the expenses of the experiment made in 1845-6, and from the data then furnished, it appears that cleansing upon such system would have come to an annual sum of 52,052l.

It will be seen that there is a remarkable difference between this estimate of 52,052l. per annum and that of 18,000l. per annum estimated by the Association, and given in their Report of the 26th January, 1846; and what is more remarkable is, that my estimate is framed not upon any assumption of my own, but is a dry calculation based upon the very figures of expense furnished by the Association itself, and hereinbefore recited.

A demonstration, carried on in the City by the street-orderlies, is detailed by Mr. Haywood, but as he draws the same conclusions from it, there is no necessity to do other than allude to it here.

According to the above estimate, it certainly must be admitted that the difference between the accounts is, as Mr. Haywood says, "remarkable"—the being nearly times more than the other. But let us, for fairness' sake, test the cost of cleansing the City thoroughfares upon the continuous plan of scavaging by the figures given in Mr. Haywood's own report, and see whether the above conclusion is warranted by the facts there stated. From , to , we have seen that several of the main streets in the City were cleansed continuously throughout the day by what were called "daymen"—that is to say, superficial yards of the principal thoroughfares were clean ( the daily cleansing of them by the contractor's men) by a body of men similar in their mode of operation to the street-orderlies, and who removed all the dirt as soon as deposited between the hours of the principal traffic. The cost of this experiment (for such it seems to have been) was, for the months, as we have seen, Now if the expense of cleansing superficial yards upon the continuous method was , then, according to Cocker, yards (the total area of the public ways of the City) would cost ; and, adding to this for the sum paid to the contractors for the daily scavaging, we have only for the gross expense of cleansing the whole of the City thoroughfares once a day by the "regular scavagers," and them clean by a body similar to the street-orderlies—a difference of upwards of between the facts and figures of the City Surveyor.

It would appear to me, therefore, that Mr. Haywood has erred, in estimating the probable expense of the street-orderly system of scavaging applied to the City at per annum, for, by his own showing, it actually cost the authorities for the year when it was tried there, only for superficial yards, at which rate yards could not cost more than , and this, even allowing that the same amount of labour would be required for the continuous cleansing of the minor thoroughfares as was needed for the principal ones. That the error is an oversight on the part of the City Surveyor, the whole tone of his Report is sufficient to assure us, for it is at once moderate and candid.

It must, on the other hand, be admitted, that Mr. Haywood is perfectly correct as to the difference between the cost of the "demonstration" of the street-orderly system of cleansing in the City, and the estimated cost of that mode of scavaging when brought into regular operation there; this, however, the year's experience of the City "daymen" shows, could not possibly exceed , and might and probably would be much less, when we take into account the smaller quantity of labour required for the minor thoroughfares—the extra value of the street manure when collected free from mud—the saving in the expense of watering the streets (this not being required under the orderly system)—and the abolition of the daily scavaging, which is included in the sum above cited, but


which would be no longer needed were the orderlies employed, such work being performed by them at the commencement of their day's labours; so that I am disposed to believe, all things considered, that somewhere about per annum might be the gross expense of continuously cleansing the City. Mr. Cochrane estimates it at But whether the admitted superior cleanliness of the streets, and the employment of an extra number of people, will be held by the citizens to be worth the extra money, it is not for me to say. If, however, the increased cleanliness effected by the street-orderlies is to be brought about by a decrease of the wages of the regular scavagers from to a week, which is the amount upon which Mr. Cochrane forms his estimate, then I do not hesitate to say the City authorities will be gainers, in the matter of poorrates at least, by an adherence to the present method of scavaging, paying as they do the best wages, and indeed affording an illustrious example to all the metropolitan parishes, in refusing to grant contracts to any master scavagers but such as consent to deal fairly with the men in their employ. And I do hope and trust, for the sake of the working-men, the City Commissioners of Sewers will, should they decide upon having the City cleansed , make the same requirement of Mr. Cochrane, before they allow his street-orderlies to displace the regular scavagers at present employed there.

Benefits to the community, gained at the expense of "the people," are really great evils. The street-orderly system is a good when applied to parishes employing paupers and paying them and a loaf per day, or even nothing, except their food, for their labour. Here it elevates paupers into independent labourers; but, applied to those localities where the highest wages are paid, and there is the greatest regard shown for the welfare of the workmen, it is merely a scurf-system of degrading the independent labourers to the level of paupers, by reducing the wages of the regular scavagers from to per week. The avowed object of the street-orderly system is to provide employment for able-bodied men, and so to them becoming a But is not a reduction of the scavager's wages to the extent of per cent. a week, more likely to than to such a result? This is the weak point of the orderly system, and which gentlemen calling themselves should really blush to be parties to.

After all, the opinion to which I am led is this— the street-orderly system is incomparably the best mode of scavaging, and the payment of the men by "" masters the best mode of employing the scavagers. The evils of the scavaging trade appear to me to spring chiefly from the parsimony of the parish authorities—either employing their own paupers without adequate remuneration, or else paying such prices to the contractors as almost necessitates the under-payment of the men in their employ. Were I to fill a volume, this is all that could be said on the matter.

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 Title Page
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Live Animals
Of the Street-Sellers of Mineral Productions and Natural Curiosities
Of the Street-Buyers
Of the Street-Jews
Of the Street-Finders or Collectors
Of the Streets of London
Of the London Chimney-Sweepers
Of the London Chimney-Sweepers
Of the Sweepers of Old, and the Climbing Boys
Of the Chimney-Sweepers of the Present Day
Of the General Characteristics of the Working Chimney-Sweepers
Sweeping of the Chimneys of Steam-Vessels
Of the 'Ramoneur' Company
Of the Brisk and Slack Seasons, and the Casual Trade among the Chimney- Sweepers
Of the 'Leeks' Among the Chimney-Sweepers
Of the Inferior Chimney-Sweepers -- the 'Knullers' and 'Queriers'
Of the Fires of London
Of the Sewermen and Nightmen of London
Of the Wet House-Refuse of London
Of the Means of Removing the Wet House-Refuse
Of the Quantity of Metropolitan Sewage
Of Ancient Sewers
Of the Kinds and Characteristics of Sewers
Of the Subterranean Character of the Sewers
Of the House-Drainage of the Metropolis as Connected With the Sewers
Of the London Street-Drains
Of the Length of the London Sewers and Drains
Of the Cost of Constructing the Sewers and Drains of the Metropolis
Of the Uses of Sewers as a Means of Subsoil Drainage
Of the City Sewerage
Of the Outlets, Ramifications, Etc., of the Sewers
Of the Qualities, Etc., of the Sewage
Of the New Plan of Sewerage
Of the Management of the Sewers and the Late Commissions
Of the Powers and Authority of the Present Commissions of Sewers
Of the Sewers Rate
Of the Cleansing of the Sewers -- Ventilation
Of 'Flushing' and 'Plonging,' and Other Modes of Washing the Sewers
Of the Working Flushermen
Of the Rats in the Sewers
Of the Cesspoolage and Nightmen of the Metropolis
Of the Cesspool System of London
Of the Cesspool and Sewer System of Paris
Of the Emptying of the London Cesspools by Pump and Hose
Statement of a Cesspool-Sewerman
Of the Present Disposal of the Night-Soil
Of the Working Nightmen and the Mode of Work