On this day … 21 December 1861

The Preston Guardian carried the second of two reports on ‘The Black Parts of Preston’. They were reprints of articles in ‘The Builder’ magazine, which named and shamed Preston as one of the grimmest towns in Britain, as in the following description of St. Peter’s School for Girls:

… a tasteless, neglected brick building … where the girls’ privies are so disgusting that the children are reduced to the necessity of using the paved yard, which is accordingly defiled with pools of urine; further, a channel has been actually made to convey these away past the entrance-door. The state of the windows and of the whole of the establishment, too, would be a disgrace to a community of savages.

And even in the more salubrious parts of the town, the attractive terrace of seventeen properties in St Wilfrid Street, just off Fishergate in the centre of town, concealed horrors behind:

A sewer pipe stuck on end, with a long stick standing upon it, indicates that something is going on in the rear of Wilfred Street—a row of neat-fronted houses; and turning down to see what it may be, we find 17 privies, 17 offal ash-pits, and 17 slop-drains, built up against the 17 neat-fronted houses in question. These harbours for filth have soiled and choked the ground till they could be borne no longer; and drain-pipes are being laid down.

The men putting down the pipes, in the cuttings made for their reception, declared that this was the dirtiest place they had ever been in. Below the pebble pavement, which looked so smooth and regular, and extended from one end to the other, in the rear of this row of neatly-fronted houses, the soil for several feet was a mass of foetid corruption,—too thick to bail out, yet with not enough consistency to shovel up,—vile and filthy.

The articles, and accompanying maps, can be found here: A disturbing view of Victorian Preston

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