London Labour and the London Poor, volume 2
Of the "Jet and Hose" System of Scavaging.
THERE appears at the present time a bent in the public mind for an improved system of scavagery. Until the ravages of the cholera in , and again in , roused the attention of Government and of the country, men seemed satisfied to dwell in dirty streets, and to congratulate themselves that the public ways were dirtier in the days of their fathers; a feeling or a spirit which has no doubt existed in all cities, from the days of those original scavagers, the vultures and hyenas of Africa and the East, the adjutants of Calcutta, and the hawks—the common glades or kites of this country—and which, we are told, in the days of Henry VIII. used to fly down among the passengers to remove the offal of the butchers and poulterers' stalls in the metropolitan markets, and in consideration of which services it was forbidden to kill them—down to the mechanical sweeping of the streets of London, and even to Mr. Cochrane's excellent street-orderlies.
Besides the plan suggested by Mr. Cochrane, whose orderlies cleanse the streets without wetting, and consequently without dirtying, the surface by the use of the watering-cart, there is the opposite method proposed by Mr. Lee, of Sheffield, and other gentlemen, who recommend streetcleansing by the hose and jet, that is to say, by flushing the streets with water at a high pressure, as the sewers are now flushed; and so, by rather than the dirt of the streets into the sewers, through the momentum of the stream of water, dispensing altogether with the scavager's broom, shovel, and cart.
In order to complete this account of the scavaging of the streets of London, I must, in conclusion, say a few words on this method, advocated as it is by the Board of Health, and sanctioned by scientific men. By the application of a hose, with a jet or water pipe attached to a fire-plug, the water being at high pressure, a stream of fluid is projected along the street's surface with force enough to away all before it into the sewers, while by the same apparatus it can be thrown over the fronts of the houses. This mode of street-cleansing prevails in some American cities, especially in Philadelphia, where the principal thoroughfares are said to be kept admirably clean by it; while the fronts of the houses are as bright as those in the towns of Holland, where they are washed, not by mechanical appliances, but by water thrown over them out of scoops by hand labour— of the instances of the minute and indefatigable industry of the Dutch.
It is stated in of the Reports of the Board of Health, that "unless cleansing be general and simultaneous, much of the dirt of district is carried by traffic into another. By the subdivision of the metropolis into small districts, the duty of cleansing the carriage-way is thrown upon a number of obscure and irresponsible authorities; while the duty of cleansing the footways, which are no less important, charged upon multitudes of private individuals." [The grammar
|is the Board of Health's grammar.] "It is a false pecuniary economy, in the case of the poorest inhabitants of court or alley, who obtain their livelihood by any regular occupation, to charge upon each family the duty of cleansing the footway before their doors. The performance of this service daily, at a rate of per house or per family, would be an economy in soap and clothes to persons the average value of whose time is never less than per hour." [This is at the rate of a day; did this most innocent Board hear of work yielding a week? But the sanitary authorities seem to be as fond as teetotallers of "going to extremes."]|
In another part of the same Report the process and results are described. It is also stated that for the success of this method of street purification the pavement must be good; for "a powerful jet, applied by the hose, would scoop out hollows in unpaved places, and also loosen and remove the stones in those that are badly paved." As every public place ought to be well-paved, this necessity of new and good pavement is no reasonable objection to the plan, though it certainly admits of a question as to the durability of the roads—the macadamized especially—under this continual soaking. Sir Henry Parnell, the great road authority, speaks of wet as the main destroyer of the highways.
It is stated in the Report, after the mention of experiments having been made by Mr. Lovick, Mr. Hale, and Mr. Lee (Mr. Lee being of the engineering inspectors of the Board), that
Other experiments are thus detailed:—
It is stated as the result of another experiment in "an ordinary wide street with plenty of traffic," that "water-carts and ordinary rains only create the mud which the jet entirely removes, giving to the pavement the appearance of having been as thoroughly cleansed as the private stone steps in front of the houses."
With respect to Mr. Lee's experiments in Sheffield, I find that Messrs. Guest, of Rotherham, are patentees of a tap for the discharge of water at high pressures, and that they had adapted their invention to the purpose of a fireplug and stand pipe suitable for street-cleansing by the hose and jet. , of the principal thoroughfares, was experimentally cleansed by this process: "The carriage-way is from to feet wide, and about yards long. It was washed almost as clean as a house-floor in minutes." Mr. Lee expresses his conviction that, by the agency of the hose and jet, every street in that populous borough might be cleansed at about per annum for each house. "The principal thoroughfares," he states, "could be thus made perfectly clean, times every week, before business hours, and the minor streets and lanes twice, or once per week, at later hours in the day, by the agency of an abundant supply of water, at of an equal quantity of refuse in a solid or semi-fluid condition."
The highways most frequented in Sheffield constitute about -half of the whole extent of the streets and roads in the borough, measuring miles. This length, Mr. Lee computes, might be effectually cleansed with the hose and jet, miles of it times a week, miles twice a week, and miles once a week, a total of miles weekly, or miles yearly. The quantity of Water required would be gallons a mile, or a yearly total of gallons. This water might be supplied, Mr. Lee opines, at per gallons ( per annum), although the price obtained by the Water-works Company was per gallons ( per annum). "I now proceed," he says, "to the cost of labour: miles per annum is equal to / miles for each working day, or to sets of men cleansing miles per day each set. To these must be added horses and carts, and carters, for the removal of such as cannot be washed away and for such parts of the town as cannot be cleansed by this system, making a total of men. Their wages I would fix at per annum each. The estimate is as follows:—
The estimate, it will be seen, is based on the supposition that , and not a specific charge for the purposes of street-cleansing.
The miles of highway of Sheffield is but miles less than those of the city of London, the cost of cleansing which is, according to the estimate before given, no less than
The Sheffield account is divested of all calculations as to house-dust and ashes, and the charge for watering-carts; but, taking merely the sum paid to scavaging contractors, and assigning (out of the ), as the proportion of salaries, &c., under the department of scavagery in the management of the City Commissioners, we find that while the expense of street-cleansing by the Sheffield hose and jet was little more than , in London, by the ordinary mode, it was upwards of per mile, or more than times as much. The hose and jet system is said to have washed the streets of Sheffield as clean as a house-floor, which could not be said of it in London. The streets of the City, it should also be borne in mind, are now swept daily; Mr. Lee proposes only a periodical cleaning for Sheffield, or once, twice, and thrice a week. Of the cost of the experiments made in London with the hose and jet, in Lascelles-court, &c., nothing is said.
Street-cleansing by the hose and jet is, then, as yet but an experiment. It has not, like the streetorderly mode, been tested continuously or systematically; but the experiments are so curious and sometimes so startling in their results that it was necessary to give a brief account of them here, in order to render this account of the cleansing of the streets of the metropolis as comprehensive as possible. For my own part, I must confess the street-orderly system appears to excel all other modes of scavagery, producing at once the greatest cleanliness with the greatest employment to the poor. Nor am I so convinced as the theoretic and crotchety Board of Health as to the healthfulness of dampness, or the daily evaporation of a sheet of even clean water equal in extent to the entire surface of the London streets. It is certainly , to say the least, whether so much additional moisture might the public health, which the Board are instituted to protect; rain certainly contributes to cleanliness, and yet no would advocate continued wet weather as a source of general convalescence.
I shall conclude this account of the scavaging
|of London, with the following brief statement as to the mode in which these matters are conducted abroad.|
In Paris, where our system of parochial legislation and management is unknown, the scavaging of the streets—so frequently matters of private speculation with us—is under the immediate direction of the municipality, and the Government publish the returns, as they do of the revenue of their capital from the abattoirs, the interments, and other sources.
In the for , it is stated that the refuse of the streets of Paris sells for francs (), when sold by auction in the mass; and francs (equal to ) when, after having lain in the proper receptacles, until fit for manure, it is sold by the cubic foot. In , the streets of Paris were leased for francs () per annum in the value was francs (); and since the price has risen to the sum named, viz., francs (); from which, however, is to be deducted the expense of cleansing, &c. I may add, that the receptacles alluded to are large places provided by Government, where the manure is deposited and left to ferment for or eighteen months.