Sheffield Independent 26th September - 6th October 1887

The effects of smallpox locally

A meeting was held at the Licensed Victualler’s Hall at Dore to ‘consider the proposed scheme of the Corporation of Sheffield for the establishment of a temporary convalescent smallpox hospital at the Victoria Gardens, and to decide what steps shall be taken to prevent the same.’ Mr Thomas Matthews was voted to the chair – he then offered financial contribution to prevent ‘the distressing scheme’ from being carried out.

Rev. J.T.F. Aldred ( Vicar of Dore )- said he was there lest it should be supposed that the Sanitary Committee of the Ecclesall Board of Guardians had taken no steps whatever to prevent the Corporation of Sheffield from most unnecessarily conveying the germs of infection to what was at present a perfectly healthy neighbourhood.

Aldred’s involvement.

Heard of matter Tuesday last week – did not give the matter much credence. On Wednesday morning he brought the matter before the Board of Guardians – a resolution was drawn up and sent to the Town Council. In a day or two the Sanitary Committee received a reply promising that the building in Totley Gardens should not be used for any other purpose than as a temporary home for convalescent patients. The Committee were not satisfied – wrote again to the Council that if the Gardens were used for smallpox cases – would come under Sanitary bye-laws which related to the health of the district. The council would have to satisfy the Sanitary Committee of the provisions they intended to make before they could bring a single patient to the place.

Rev. T. Spratt – vicar of St John’s Abbeydale.

Suggested enlarging the Committee and authorise them to obtain further legal advice. The present committee were taking advice from Mr. Dossey Wightman – who thought that they had a very good case – and ought to lose no time in taking out an injunction. Mr Matthews offered to become plaintiff in the action and guarantee expenses.

Dr Thorne.

Dangers of bringing frightful disease to the neighbourhood.

The council proposed to send patients in a convalescent state – therefore fit to be received among their friends ? Why not send them home ? It had been suggested that the patients would be sent in a state of ‘scab’ – ie one of most infectious periods. Proposed site near an orphanage with a tremendous lot of children. How would smallpox patients be carried – carriage or train ? – both methods dangerous.

A deputation then went to Messrs. Wightman and Nicholson, solicitors, Charge Alley. The solicitors advised a writ should be immediately applied for without delay.

In spite of pending legal proceedings the Borough Hospital Committee pressed on with its plans – many precautions :- a special drain had been constructed so no possibility of infection through normal drainage – own cesspool 70 yards away from the nearest boundary.

Motion for the injunction was refused.