There are many defects in dwelling-houses with which it is the duty of
the sanitary inspector to deal, such as the Bakehouse Regulations Act,
offensive trades, nuisances rendering houses unfit for human habitation,
&c., but I propose to give in this chapter, in addition to those with
which I have already dealt, such subjects under this head as come within
the duties of the town surveyor.
The first which I propose to treat is that of the question of
_Cellar Dwellings._–These are at all times objectionable even if the
clauses of the Public Health Act 1875 be strictly carried out, and the
surveyor should discourage them as much as possible. Nothing more can be
said with reference to them than is contained in the provisions of the
above Act, which are as follows:
“It shall not be lawful to let or occupy or suffer to be occupied
separately as a dwelling, any cellar (including for the purposes of this
Act in that expression any vault or underground room) built or rebuilt
after the passing of this Act, or which is not lawfully so let or
occupied at the time of the passing of this Act” (38 & 39 Vic. c. 55, s.
And with regard to existing cellar dwellings they are only to be let or
occupied on the following conditions:–
“Unless the cellar is in every part thereof at least seven feet in
height, measured from the floor to the ceiling thereof, and is at least
three feet of its height above the surface of the street or ground
adjoining or nearest to the same; and
“Unless there is outside of and adjoining the cellar and extending along
the entire frontage thereof, and upwards from six inches below the level
of the floor thereof up to the surface of the said street or ground, an
open area of at least two feet and six inches wide in every part; and
“Unless the cellar is effectually drained by means of a drain, the
uppermost part of which is one foot at least below the level of the
floor thereof; and
“Unless there is appurtenant to the cellar the use of a watercloset,
earthcloset, or privy, and an ashpit, furnished with proper doors and
coverings, according to the provisions of this Act; and
“Unless the cellar has a fireplace with a proper chimney or flue, and an
external window of at least nine superficial feet in area clear of the
sash frame, and made to open in a manner approved by the surveyor
(except in the case of an inner or back cellar let or occupied along
with a front cellar as part of the same letting or occupation, in which
case the external window may be of any dimensions, not being less than
four superficial feet in area clear of the sash frame).
“Provided that in any area adjoining a cellar there may be steps
necessary for access to such cellar, if the same be so placed as not to
be over, across, or opposite to the said external window, and so as to
allow between every part of such steps and the external wall of such
cellar a clear space of six inches at the least, and that over or across
any such area there may be steps necessary for access to any building
above the cellar to which such area adjoins, if the same be so placed as
not to be over, across, or opposite to any such external window” (38 &
39 Vic. c. 55, s. 72).
Where two convictions in respect of the same cellar have taken place
within three months, the local authority may close it, and recover any
expenses incurred by them in the execution of this duty (38 & 39 Vic.,
c. 55, s. 75).
The next defect in a dwelling-house which will be considered is that of
_Insufficient W.C. accommodation._–A new house may not be erected
without “a sufficient watercloset, earthcloset, or privy” under a
penalty not exceeding twenty pounds (38 & 39 Vic. c. 55, s. 35).
And with regard to existing premises:
“If a house within the district of a local authority appears to such
authority _by the report of their surveyor_ or inspector of nuisances to
be without a sufficient watercloset, earthcloset, or privy . . . . the
local authority shall by written notice require the owner or occupier of
the house within a reasonable time therein specified, to provide a
sufficient watercloset, earthcloset, or privy . . . . or either of them
as the case may require. If such notice is not complied with the local
authority may, at the expiration of the time specified in the notice, do
the work, provided that where a watercloset, earthcloset, or privy has
been and is used in common by the inmates of two or more houses, or if
in the opinion of the local authority a watercloset, earthcloset, or
privy may be so used, they need not require the same to be provided for
each house” (38 & 39 Vic. c. 55, s. 36).
If the local authority approve, an earthcloset may be constructed
instead of a watercloset, but in this case they should make arrangements
for the supply of the dry earth and the removal of its contents.
The necessary form of notice to be served in connection with
insufficient w.c. accommodation may be as follows:
_To the owner of the house No. in the borough of ._
Whereas the above-mentioned house is situate within the district of
the mayor, aldermen, and burgesses of , the urban sanitary
authority for the borough of : And whereas it appears to the
said urban sanitary authority that the said house is without a
sufficient watercloset, earthcloset, or privy: Now the said urban
sanitary authority do hereby require you, the said owner, within
from the date of this notice to provide a sufficient
watercloset for the use of the inhabitants of the said house. And take
notice, that if you do not within the time above specified provide a
sufficient watercloset, as aforesaid, to the satisfaction of the said
urban sanitary authority, they will themselves, at the expiration of
such time, do the necessary work to provide such closet accommodation
as aforesaid, and proceed to recover the costs and expenses thereby
incurred in manner provided by the Public Health Act 1875.
Dated this of , 188 .
_Surveyor to the said Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses._
And where the case demands, the following note may be added below the
“NOTE.–The urban sanitary authority may, if they so determine,
require a separate watercloset to be provided for each house, or they
may permit a watercloset to be used in common by the inmates of two or
more houses, but in either case the closet itself must be
properly constructed and provided with due means of ventilation. The
urban sanitary authority will approve of the existing closet
accommodation if it is perfected by means of the following works being
carried out. (Specification of work required to be done must here be
inserted.) The whole of the work to be executed in a workmanlike
manner and to my entire approval.
“It is, however, to be understood that the above notice requiring the
work to be executed within one month will be rigidly enforced; and if
at the expiration of that time the work be not completed, the urban
sanitary authority will themselves proceed to execute the necessary
work to provide proper closet accommodation in such manner as they may
deem most advisable, without pledging themselves to the adoption of
the method above suggested.”
_Surveyor to the said Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses._
With regard to watercloset accommodation for factories, it appears to
rest entirely with the town surveyor to draw the attention of the
sanitary authority to any case where he considers this is deficient, as
by the following clause:
“Where it appears to any local authority by the report of their surveyor
that any house is used or intended to be used as a factory or building
in which persons of both sexes are employed or intended to be employed
at one time in any manufacture, trade, or business, the local authority
may, if they think fit, by written notice require the owner or occupier
of such house, within the time therein specified, to construct a
sufficient number of waterclosets, earthclosets, or privies and ashpits
for the separate use of each sex.
“Any person who neglects or refuses to comply with any such notice shall
be liable for each default to a penalty not exceeding twenty pounds, and
to a further penalty not exceeding forty shillings for every day during
which the default is continued” (38 & 39 Vic. c. 55, s. 38).
In providing closet accommodation which is to be used in common by the
occupants of a number of houses, it must be remembered that it should
be of the most simple description. Any one acquainted with the working
of waterclosets situated in courts and alleys will know how badly they
are treated, and into what a fearful state of disrepair and filth they
speedily fall, as the great difficulty the sanitary inspector always
finds is to have them kept clean; “What is everybody’s business is
nobody’s.” And although by clauses 40, 41, 46, &c., of the Public Health
Act 1875 persons causing a nuisance can be punished, it is a difficult
matter to detect the person in fault, unless of course it is a
structural defect, when the owner can be summoned if it is allowed to
For this reason what are known as “Fowler’s closets,” or some
modification of this principle, should be adopted in all such localities
where earthclosets or some of the dry systems are not in force, as they
are without any complicated valve apparatus or anything of the kind.
The last point to consider in this chapter is that of _Houses without a
proper supply of water_.
“Where on _the report of the surveyor_ of a local authority it appears
that any house is without a proper supply of water, and that such a
supply can be furnished at a cost not exceeding that authorised by any
local Act, or where there is not any local Act, not exceeding twopence a
week, or at such other cost as the Local Government Board may determine,
the local authority shall give notice in writing to the owner, requiring
him, within a time specified, to obtain such supply, and to do all such
works as may be necessary for that purpose, and in default of his
doing so may carry out all necessary works themselves for obtaining such
supply” (_vide_ 38 & 39 Vic. c. 55, s. lxii.).
It is not very often that a house is found without any supply of water
at all, for if that from the mains is not laid on it is generally found
that the house is supplied from a well or from a stand-pipe in a court,
or some similar source. If the water is derived from an impure well or
other contaminated source, the following clause of the Public Health Act
1875 must be enforced in order to close the well or compel the
discontinuance of the polluted supply, when a “proper” supply of water
can be enforced in the manner I have described:
“On the representation of any person to any local authority that within
their district the water in any well, tank, or cistern, public or
private, or supplied from any public pump, and used or likely to be used
by man for drinking or domestic purposes, or for manufacturing drinks
for the use of man, is so polluted as to be injurious to health, such
authority may apply to a court of summary jurisdiction for an order to
remedy the same; and thereupon such court shall summon the owner or
occupier of the premises to which the well, tank, or cistern belongs if
it be private, and in the case of a public well, tank, cistern or pump,
any person alleged in the application to be interested in the same, and
may either dismiss the application, or may make an order directing the
well, tank, cistern, or pump to be permanently or temporarily closed, or
the water to be used for certain purposes only, or such other order as
may appear to them to be requisite to prevent injury to the health of
persons drinking the water.
“The court may, if they see fit, cause the water complained of to be
analysed at the cost of the local authority applying to them under this
“If the person on whom an order under this section is made fails to
comply with the same, the court may, on the application of the local
authority, authorise them to do whatever may be necessary in the
execution of the order, and any expenses incurred by them may be
recovered in a summary manner from the person on whom the order is
“Expenses incurred by any rural authority in the execution of this
section, and not recovered by them as aforesaid, shall be special
expenses” (38 & 39 Vic. c. 55, s. 70).
It is an established fact that wells within a town must always be
regarded with some suspicion, and where they exist either publicly or
privately the local authority would do well to have the water from them
analysed with a view to having them closed. Even cisterns, if not
frequently examined and cleansed, will cause the water that is stored in
them to become polluted, not only from the dust of the air settling in
them and the natural impurities of the water passing through them, but
frequently from foreign objects falling into them and decaying, such as
rats, mice, cats, and in one case that I know of, a sirloin of beef, and
in another a plumber! These remained in the cistern until the colour,
smell, and taste of the water drew the attention of the drinkers to
“something being the matter!” The cure for the chance of such cases as
these is of course the constant supply.
 Any cellar in which any person passes the night shall be deemed
to be occupied as a dwelling within the meaning of this Act (38 & 39
Vic. c. 55, s. 74).
 “In this Act (P. H. Act 1875) the term ‘earth closet’ includes
any place for the reception and deodorization of fæcal matter
constructed to the satisfaction of the local authority” (38 & 39 Vic.
c. 55, s. 37).
 In case of several houses together, it has been held as not
necessary to have separate accommodation for each house, if there is
sufficient for them collectively. (Clutton Guardians v. Pointing, 4 Q.
B. Division 340, 48 L. J. M. C. 137.)
 It is not always possible for a separate w.c. to be provided for
each house, hence the wisdom of the law which makes it permissive for
a local authority to allow a group of tenements to be provided for by
several waterclosets close together.
 A similar provision is made requiring the keeper of a common
lodging house to obtain a proper supply of water (38 & 39 Vic. c. 55,
s. 81), but it does not appear to be the express duty of the town
surveyor to draw attention to this, as it does in the more general
It would not be possible in one chapter of a book of this description to
enter into all the details and necessary apparatus in connection with
house drainage. I propose only to point out some of the town surveyor’s
duties in connection with this subject, and to add a few remarks which
may be of some service.
The definition of the word “drain” as given in the Public Health Act
1875 is as follows:
“‘Drain’ means any drain of and used for the drainage of one building
only, or premises within the same curtilage, and made merely for the
purpose of communicating therefrom with a cesspool or other like
receptacle for drainage, or with a sewer into which the drainage of two
or more buildings or premises occupied by different persons is conveyed”
(38 & 39 Vic. c. 55, s. 4).
Although this definition is very clear, it occasionally happens,
especially in old towns, that some doubt arises as to whether an
existing conduit for sewage is a “drain” or a “sewer” for though a
conduit is of small size it maybe found to be carrying the sewage of two
or more buildings, and thus is really “a sewer belonging to the local
This difficulty often leads to litigation where a notice having been
served upon an owner of property to put in a new drain in place of one
that has been found on examination to be defective, the new work is of
course commenced at the junction with the main sewer, and it is not
until the new so-called drain is nearly completed that it is found to
be “used for the drainage” of more than one building, and is in fact “a
sewer into which the drainage of two or more buildings or premises,
occupied by different persons is conveyed” (see clause quoted above),
and is therefore repairable by the local authority (38 & 39 Vic. c. 55,
Where the town surveyor is in any doubt as to whether the conduit is a
drain or a sewer, he should test from whence the sewage comes by passing
diluted white lime or carbolic acid down the adjacent water-closets and
watching whether it flows through the conduit or not, but even here he
is sometimes at fault if the drains are old and dilapidated, as they do
not reach the point he is watching and he is thus misled.
In connection with the question of house drainage the town surveyor has
the following duties to perform:
(1.) To inspect all new drains that are constructed in connection with
existing buildings within his district.
(2.) To inspect all drains of new buildings that are constructed within
(3.) To inspect all defective drains within his district, serve the
necessary notices in respect thereof, and inspect the works he has
required to be executed whilst they are in progress.
(1.) With reference to the first of these duties the following is the
clause of the Public Health Act 1875 which bears upon the point:
“The owner or occupier of any premises within the district of a local
authority shall be entitled to cause his drains to empty into the sewers
of that authority on condition of his giving such notice as may be
required by that authority of his intention so to do, and of complying
with the regulations of that authority in respect of the mode in which
the communications between such drains and sewers are to be made, and
subject to the control of any person who may be appointed by that
authority to superintend the making of such communications. Any person
causing a drain to empty into a sewer of a local authority without
complying with the provisions of this section shall be liable to a
penalty not exceeding twenty pounds, and the local authority may close
any communication between a drain and sewer made in contravention of
this section . . . .” (38 & 39 Vic. c. 55, s. 21).
The first thing therefore that a local authority has to do is to frame
the necessary regulations and appoint a “person to superintend the
making of such communications.”
The following is given as a specimen form of the manner in which these
regulations may be compiled:
_Regulations made and ordained by the Urban Sanitary Authority for
, as to the giving of notice before any drains are made to
communicate with the sewers of the said Urban Sanitary Authority;
regulating the mode in which such communications are to be made; and
appointing the person under whose superintendence and control the work
is to be executed._
1.–No communication shall be made with any sewer belonging to the said
Urban Sanitary Authority, nor any drain made to empty therein, unless
notice of an intention so to do, signed by the owner or occupier of the
premises to which such drains belong, be left at the office of the
borough surveyor two days previously; and such notice must specify the
point at which it is desired that communication shall be made, and the
time at which it is proposed the work shall be commenced, and any person
not complying with these regulations will be liable to a penalty not
exceeding twenty pounds.
2.–Work required to be done in connecting any house drain or drains
with the main or public sewer, shall be executed in the following
The ground to be excavated to the required depth with all possible
expedition, the work to proceed by night and day; and there shall be
maintained during the progress of the work all such fencings, hoardings,
struttings, and shorings, as may be necessary for or in consequence of
any of the works, for the protection of the public, and of all buildings
and property whatever, near to or liable to be affected by the work,
which shall also be well watched and lighted.
The shoring and strutting of the excavation is to be done in such
manner, with poling boards, waling pieces and struts, as the surveyor
shall consider necessary.
All surplus earth or material is to be carted away as speedily as
possible. Care must be taken where the excavation is made in a road or
path to keep separate the surface material from the lower, so as to
replace them in their proper positions.
The excavation shall in all cases where practicable be in open cutting,
and not by shafts and headings.
The junction with the main sewer to be done in the following manner:–
The drain shall in no case be less than four inches internal diameter,
and shall be constructed of well-burnt glazed socketed stoneware pipes,
circular, perfectly true in bore, and straight, with whole socket joints
free from flaws, blisters, cracks, or other defects, set in Portland
cement joints with a uniform fall, well bedded on well-rammed and solid
ground, the sockets being sunk into it so as to give an even bearing.
No shafts or sudden falls will be allowed.
Where the junction is with a sewer constructed of pipes, one length of
the sewer (or more if necessary) shall be removed and an oblique proper
glazed socket junction pipe, set in Portland cement, inserted in its
The junction with the sewer shall be of the same size as the drain.
Where the junction is with a brick or stone sewer, the connection shall
be made at such height above the invert as the surveyor shall determine,
and be made with a glazed socket pipe obliquely in line of current of
main sewer, properly bedded in with cement, cut off so as to take the
form of the main sewer and offer no obstruction to the proper flow of
sewage therein, or with a properly constructed stoneware block junction.
On completion of the junction, which shall be made before any of the
pipe drain is laid, it shall be inspected by the surveyor, and the work
must not be further proceeded with until such inspection has been made
and the junction pronounced satisfactory. The drain shall be properly
trapped between the sewer and the house, with a syphon of such form as
the surveyor shall direct, and be at its inlet end or other extremity
carried up open its full diameter to above the roof line.
The excavation is to be filled in within six inches of the surface of
the ground, with layers of earth not more than six inches in thickness,
carefully rammed or punned with iron punners of not less weight than 10
The surface of a roadway must be brought up to its proper level with the
surface material kept separate, and properly broken or other approved
road metal, and the roadway where broken shall be kept in repair by the
person opening the ground for a period of twelve months after the
completion of the work.
If the excavation is made under a footpath or paved road, the paving
must be made good and kept in repair for a similar period.
3.–A. B. C., the present borough surveyor, and his successors in
office, or the person for the time being acting as or discharging the
duties of borough surveyor, are hereby appointed as the person or
persons to superintend the making of such communications with the public
sewers as aforesaid.
* * * * *
(1.) Notwithstanding the stringency of the above regulations it is very
difficult to ensure that the whole of the new drain is properly executed
by the person who is carrying out the work, for if he wishes to deceive
the surveyor’s department it is not very difficult to do so in works of
this description. It would be far better if all drains of dwelling
houses could be constructed solely by the staff of the local authority,
and failing any general act upon the subject, that they should be able
to obtain private powers to do so.
It is illegal for anyone to touch the surface of either roadway or
footpath for any purpose whatever without the consent of the urban
authority (see 38 & 39 Vic. c. 55, sec. 149), and especially to touch or
interfere with the main sewers. All such work could be done better and
cheaper, both for the ratepayers and the owners of property, if carried
out by the trained staff of the local authority; nothing would be gained
by scamping the work, and one of the worst stumbling blocks in the
interests of sanitation would be removed by this simple and effective
measure. Gas and water companies invariably refuse to allow anyone to
interfere with their mains or services, but execute the work with their
own men; how much more important is it that house drains and sewers
should be equally protected. If a gas or water main or house service
leaks through defective work it is quickly detected and remedied; not so
with a drain or sewer, the deadly gases may be oozing through defective
joints or the foul liquid may be poisoning the soil under the adjacent
dwelling houses, and many victims may suffer before the cause is
ascertained, and even then laborious legal machinery has to be put in
force before it can be rectified.
The only objections that can be raised to the plan I so strongly
advocate are, first, the interference with the trade connections and
interests of builders and others; and secondly, the responsibility
incurred by the local authority to execute thoroughly sound and good
work, and the difficulty they might afterwards experience if it was
necessary to find fault with their own work. The first objection should
really have no weight when lives are at stake, and the responsibility
incurred by the second objection ought not to be shirked.
Until some alteration is made in the present law the town surveyor must
be as vigilant as he can, and endeavour to induce the public to look
more closely themselves into such all-important points.
(2.) The next duty of the town surveyor is to inspect all drains of new
buildings that are being constructed in his district.
I have dealt with this subject in the chapter on “New Buildings.” The
model bye-laws to which I have there referred contain some excellent
principles in reference to this matter, and too much power cannot be
given to a local authority in respect of house drains, even to the
extent of prohibiting any one else to construct them. The main sewer,
shared in common as it is by all the inhabitants of a town, must be
looked upon as a common danger, and each house that connects with it
should so far as possible be severed from it; at the same time the drain
must be so constructed that the sewage reaches the sewer as quickly and
as completely as possible, without any nuisance or knowledge of the
unpleasant nature of its contents or those in the sewer reaching the
inhabitants of the house: this is the key-note of all house drainage,
and many excellent books and descriptions of this class of work have
been from time to time written.
(3.) The next duty of the town surveyor is to inspect all defective
drains within his district, and serve the necessary notices, &c.
This duty is embodied in the following clauses of the Public Health Act,
“Where any house within the district of a local authority is without a
drain sufficient for effectual drainage, the local authority shall by
written notice require the owner or occupier of such house, within a
reasonable time therein specified, to make a covered drain or drains
emptying into any sewer which the local authority are entitled to use,
and which is not more than one hundred feet from the site of such house;
but if no such means of drainage are within that distance, then emptying
into such covered cesspool or other place not being under any house as
the local authority direct; and the local authority may require any such
drain or drains to be of such materials and size, and to be laid at such
level and with such fall, as on the report of their surveyor may appear
to them to be necessary.
“If such notice is not complied with, the local authority may, after the
expiration of the time specified in the notice, do the work required,
and may recover in a summary manner the expenses incurred by them in so
doing from the owner, or may by order declare the same to be private
“Provided that where, in the opinion of the local authority, greater
expense would be incurred in causing the drains of two or more houses to
empty into an existing sewer pursuant to this section, than in
constructing a new sewer and causing such drains to empty therein, the
local authority may construct such new sewer, and require the owners or
occupiers of such houses to cause their drains to empty therein, and may
apportion as they deem just the expenses of the construction of such
sewer among the owners of the several houses, and recover in a summary
manner the sums apportioned from such owners, or may by order declare
the same to be private improvement expenses” (38 & 39 Vic. c. 55, s.
The above clause is the most simple under which this duty can be carried
out, provided it can be proved that the house is “without a drain
sufficient for effectual drainage,” and for this purpose it would
probably be necessary to enter the premises and open up and examine the
drain, unless, of course, it was a case where no drain existed to the
house at all, or was evidently and notoriously without “effectual
drainage.” In order to enter for this purpose the requisite powers are
conferred in the following clause of the Public Health Act 1875:
“The local authority, or any of their officers, shall be admitted into
any premises for the purpose of examining as to the existence of any
nuisance thereon, or of enforcing the provisions of any Act in force
within the district requiring fireplaces and furnaces to consume their
own smoke, at any time between the hours of nine in the forenoon and six
in the afternoon, or in the case of a nuisance arising in respect of any
business, then at any hour when such business is in progress or is
usually carried on.
“Where under this Act a nuisance has been ascertained to exist, or an
order of abatement or prohibition has been made, the local authority or
any of their officers shall be admitted from time to time into the
premises between the hours aforesaid, until the nuisance is abated, or
the works ordered to be done are completed, as the case may be.
“Where an order of abatement or prohibition has not been complied with,
or has been infringed, the local authority, or any of their officers,
shall be admitted from time to time at all reasonable hours, or at all
hours during which business is in progress or is usually carried on,
into the premises where the nuisance exists, in order to abate the same.
“If admission to premises for any of the purposes of this section is
refused, any justice on complaint thereof on oath by any officer of the
local authority (made after reasonable notice in writing of the
intention to make the same has been given to the person having custody
of the premises), may, by order under his hand, require the person
having custody of the premises to admit the local authority, or their
officer, into the premises during the hours aforesaid, and if no person
having custody of the premises can be found, the justice shall, on oath
made before him of that fact, by order under his hand authorise the
local authority or any of their officers to enter such premises during
the hours aforesaid.
“Any order made by a justice for admission of the local authority or any
of their officers on premises shall continue in force until the nuisance
has been abated, or the work for which the entry was necessary has been
done” (38 & 39 Vic. c. 55, s. 102).
The above clause also gives the necessary powers of entry where the
following clause of the Public Health Act is enforced with reference to
defective house drainage, instead of the 23rd section which I have
“On the written application of any person to a local authority, stating
that any drain, watercloset, earthcloset, privy, ashpit, or cesspool on
or belonging to any premises within their district is a nuisance, or
injurious to health (but not otherwise), the local authority may, by
writing, empower their surveyor or inspector of nuisances, after
twenty-four hours’ written notice to the occupier of such premises, or
in case of emergency without notice, to enter such premises, with or
without assistants, and cause the ground to be opened, and examine such
drain, watercloset, earthcloset, privy, ashpit, or cesspool. If the
drain, watercloset, earthcloset, privy, ashpit, or cesspool on
examination is found to be in proper condition, he shall cause the
ground to be closed, and any damage done to be made good as soon as can
be, and the expenses of the works shall be defrayed by the local
authority. If the drain, watercloset, earthcloset, privy, ashpit, or
cesspool on examination appear to be in bad condition, or to require
alteration or amendment, the local authority shall forthwith cause
notice in writing to be given to the owner or occupier of the premises
requiring him forthwith or within a reasonable time therein specified to
do the necessary works; and if such notice is not complied with, the
person to whom it is given shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding
ten shillings for every day during which he continues to make default,
and the local authority may, if they think fit, execute such works, and
may recover in a summary manner from the owner the expenses incurred by
them in so doing, or may by order declare the same to be private
improvement expenses” (38 & 39 Vic. c. 55, s. 41).
In acting upon the above clause it is well to note the machinery that is
necessary in order to secure success in the event of a prosecution.
(1.) The notice to the local authority of the existence of a nuisance
arising from a drain, &c., must be in writing, and that authority must
then proceed to consider the notice.
(2.) If they agree to take action the local authority may empower their
surveyor to enter the premises (with or without notice as the case may
require) but this order to him must also be in writing.
(3.) If the surveyor is allowed by the occupier of the premises to enter
(and in default he must put the 102nd section which I have quoted in
force) he may then open the ground “with or without assistants.”
(4.) If he finds a defective drain he must then report to the local
authority in writing, unless he has been primarily invested by the local
authority with such powers as will dispense with such report.
(5.) The local authority shall “forthwith cause notice in writing to be
given to the owner, &c.” to do the work.
(6.) If the owner executes the work the surveyor must supervise its
(7.) If this work is not done within a reasonable time the local
authority “may if they think fit” execute the works; the surveyor has
probably to carry them out, after having obtained the necessary
permission to enter for the purpose.
(8.) The costs of the work have to be recovered.
Anyone acquainted with local government will know how difficult and
tedious such processes must necessarily be, the delay between the
meetings of the local authority being quite sufficient to make the
matter in dispute last a considerable time, and this delay is extremely
undesirable where a nuisance arising from a defective house-drain is in
There seems to be no doubt that the clauses which are given in the
Public Health Act 1875 empower the local authority to specify without
dispute the class of work they think necessary in order to remedy any
evils arising from a defective drain, but it is a pity that some more
simple process cannot be introduced to improve the sanitary condition of
a house without the necessity of so much laborious legal machinery.
There is still one other clause in the Public Health Act 1875, which
refers to house drainage, and it is as follows:
“Every local authority shall provide that all drains, waterclosets,
earthclosets, privies, ashpits, and cesspools within their district be
constructed and kept so as not to be a nuisance, or injurious to health”
(38 & 39 Vic. c. 55, s. 40). But this clause is usually taken to apply
rather to nuisances arising from temporary defects than to more
important structural defects in a drain, and such nuisances come more
under the cognizance and duties of the inspector of nuisances than those
of the town surveyor.
It would not be possible, as I have already stated, in one chapter to
give all the detail descriptions of house drains and the necessary
apparatus in connection therewith, and besides very many excellent
books, pamphlets and papers have been from time to time written on this
important subject. Before, however, bringing this chapter to a
conclusion, I will give a list of the essential requirements of all good
house drainage which may be of some use to the town surveyor:
(1.) A house drain should be constructed of stoneware pipes (not
earthenware or fire clay), these are generally salt glazed, and should
be perfectly smooth or even slippery inside, the pipes must be of true
circular section and thickness of material, and straight in the
direction of their length, with whole sockets of proper depth, and free
from any cracks, blisters, sand holes, or other defects. As even the
most carefully manufactured pipes vary somewhat in diameter of sockets;
&c., it is well to have them sorted before commencing the work; it is
scarcely necessary to add that no “seconds” should be allowed on the
(2.) The internal diameter of the drain should not be too large; 6
inches may be considered as a maximum, 4 inches is generally quite
sufficient to carry off all the sewage from an extensive establishment,
even if all the water from the roofs or a portion of them is included.
(3.) The inclination is governed by circumstances, but about 1 in 60 is
found to be a very convenient fall for many hydraulic, and other
(4.) The jointing of the pipes should be executed with great care; if
cement joints are made each pipe should be jointed separately, and it
should be seen that no cement is left in the drain. Sometimes tarred
gaskin is used to prevent this, and Stanford’s patent joints are
excellent where running water or sewage has to be contended with, or
great despatch of the work is necessary.
(5.) The sockets of the pipes should be sunk into the ground at the
bottom of the trench so as to give an even bearing, which amongst other
benefits dispenses with the chance of settlements.
(6.) No pipes should be allowed to be covered in until they have been
inspected by the town surveyor or his assistants, and in order to test
the soundness of the joints, it is a good plan to fill the drain with
water, having first stopped up the lower end, and note the effect.
(7.) Drains should not pass under buildings if it can be avoided, but if
unavoidable they must be buried in good concrete, and relieving arches
turned to any walls passing over them. In America iron pipes are used
(8.) Care must be exercised, in filling in over pipes, not to break or
(9.) The trap to a house drain should be a “Buchan” or other similar
syphon with a good cascade action, its position must be guided by
(10.) The drain should end at the outside wall of the house and be
carried up the wall its full diameter to above the roof for ventilation,
an inlet for fresh air being essential on the house side of the trap; if
the drain has to pass under the house it must be similarly carried up on
the other side.
(11.) The connection with the main sewer has been already described.
In conclusion I would urge the necessity of a register of all drains
being kept that are examined by the surveyor’s department. This can be
done by having a series of numbered notebooks kept solely for this
purpose, and all the information thus acquired should also be plotted on
the map of the town if on a sufficiently large scale.
The necessity of correct plans of the drainage of buildings cannot be
over-estimated, especially for hospitals, asylums, workhouses, schools,
or other public buildings, and even for the smallest dwelling house such
a plan would often prove to be the greatest boon to the occupier or
owner as well as at all times to the town surveyor, the medical officer
of health, and the inspector of nuisances.
 For definitions of the word “sewer,” see the chapter on
 The New York Board of Health require that earthenware drain
pipes connecting dwellings with street sewers shall be hard and salt
glazed, sound and cylindrical; at least ⁵⁄₈ths of an inch thick if 5
inches in diameter, and ³⁄₄ of an inch thick if 6 inches in diameter.
Pipe must be connected with hydraulic cement of the best quality. No
“tempered up” cement can be used. The pipes must be laid with such
good alignment that the inspector can see through the entire line from
the house to the sewer, and every section must be bedded in cement so
as to have a firm bearing, not only at the hub, but along its entire
length. The inside of the drain must be freed from all cement which
may have oozed through at the joints, and from all other obstructions.
Before the drain is covered notice must be sent to the Health
Department, by the owner or plumber, that the inspector may visit and
examine the work, and the Board of Health will not approve or permit a
drain which has not been examined by one of its inspectors and found
to be properly constructed.
 See chapter on “Breaking up Streets.”
 The definition of house is as follows:–“House” includes
schools, also factories and other buildings in which more than twenty
persons are employed at one time. (38 & 39 Vic. c. 55, s. 4)
 Notices, orders, and other such documents under this Act may be
in writing or print, or partly in writing and partly in print; and if
the same require authentication by the local authority, the signature
thereof by the clerk to the local authority or their surveyor or
inspector of nuisances shall be sufficient authentication (38 & 39
Vic. c. 55, s. 266).
 Having obtained admission to the premises, the inspection of the
alleged nuisance should be so conducted as to enable the local
authority to determine whether it exists, or whether it existed at the
time the notice was given, and whether, although it has since been
removed or discontinued, it is likely to recur or to be repeated; and
in all cases it will be the most expedient course to reduce to writing
the result of the inspection. When the inspection is made by an
officer of the local authority, it will also be expedient for that
authority, on receiving the report of their officer formally and in
writing, to record the conclusions to which they have come after
considering his report in order to ground further proceedings. (_Vide_
‘Law of Public Health and Local Government,’ by W. C. and A. G. Glen,
8th edition, p. 81.)
 For ample information on the subject of house drainage and
similar subjects see the following books, etc.:– Bailey Denton’s
‘Sanitary Engineering’; Baldwin Latham’s ‘Sanitary Engineering’;
Buchan’s ‘Plumbing’; Slagg’s ‘Sanitary Work’; Hart’s ‘Manual of Public
Health’; Hellyer’s ‘Plumber and Sanitary Houses’; Galton’s ‘Healthy
Dwellings’; ‘House Drainage,’ by W. A. Tylor; Philbrick’s ‘American
Sanitary Engineering,’ and many others, besides the numerous reports
of the “Health of Towns Commission,” and several articles in the
_Sanitary Record_, the _Sanitary Engineer of New York_, and Mr.
Rawlinson’s ‘Hints,’ all of which should be studied by the town
 In some parts of the north of England taper pipes are used about
20 inches in length, the internal diameter of the larger end being
slightly greater than the external diameter of the smaller end, thus
allowing the small end of one pipe to enter the large end of another.
Continuous lengths of cement pipes made _in situ_ are also now being