chapter  6
20 Pages

Town Hall and Whitehall: sanitary intelligence in Liverpool, 1840–63

ByGerry Kearns

In the public health reports of the 1840s, Liverpool was often taken to exemplify the evils of the unregulated, insanitary city. The politics of central-local relations in the question of sanitary intelligence reveals some conflicting views of the purposes and interpretation of information. Prior to his appointment he had established himself as the obvious candidate for the new post by virtue of his studies of sanitary conditions in the town. Duncan described the cellar and court dwellings of Liverpool to three successive sanitary inquiries. Central government was acutely aware of the place of Liverpool in the diffusion of epidemic disease into England. One of the points which clearly impressed the local authorities of Liverpool, as it did those of other places, was that sanitary legislation was inevitable. In 1858, Edward Greenhow published a report for the Medical Officer to the Privy Council, the successor to the General Board of Health, in which he surveyed the current public health challenges.