I’ve written and presented a few times now on the Inspectors of Nuisance and Sanitary Inspectors and one reason for my interest is that they are the predecessors in my profession, environmental health. There has been very little written on the history of our profession in general, let alone in how they addressed living conditions. My main interest is what they did around housing: I’ve been scouring old journals and books and tried to discover more. There isn’t too much I can find but I understand that there are a few people who are working on the history too.

Here I’m collating what I’ve done so far in one place as a few people are contacting me and asking for more information. People who have been in touch are academics, students and also people trying to find out about their own relations in history who have been Inspectors of Nuisance and Sanitary Inspectors. It has been lovely to be able to share what I have learnt with them. We know that there are at least two very old inspectors notebooks in existence and it would be good to hear about more.

I’m delighted (but now a little scared) about presenting in the forthcoming Homes fit for Heroes Centenary Conference (18th July, at the Institute of Historical Research) and will be talking about what my profession was up to during the first world war around housing and health and their and recognition by Addison.

Previous work I have done (including with colleagues) around this subject includes conferences and books. I participated in a one day workshop on ‘The Working Class at Home’ at the wonderful Geffrye Museum (4th May 2017), presenting on Slums and the Sanitary Inspector: the interwar period 1918-1939. I later presented at the Urban History Group Conference (5th April 2018) with someone I met at Geffrye, in a Parallel Session on ‘Making Houses Healthier? Interventions in housing 1848-1918’.  My part was called:  Interventions into the Slums: Government inspectors and consequences for tenants 1848-1914.

If you are interested in finding out more, the following resources may be helpful. First, for books scroll down here to Pioneers in Public Health (2017) and The Stuff of Life: Public Health in Edwardian Britain (2012).  Then there is my ebook Housing and Hope: the influence of the interwar years in England (2016).

You may also find these blog posts and article of interest:

November 2016 (Inside Housing) Hope after the Horror

February 2017 (EHRNet) Inspector of Nuisance to Environmental Health Practitioner

June 2017 (Municipal Dreams) Tackling the Slums: Inspectors of Nuisance and the Sanitary Inspectors; Part 1, 1848-1914.

July 2017 (Municipal Dreams) Tackling the Slums: Addison and the Sanitary Inspectors: Part 2, 1914-1939

December 2018 (EHRNet) Celebrating Environmental Health Research.

In addition the Medical Officers of Health reports 1848-1972 are available via the Wellcome Library and this timeline is also interesting.

More coming on this subject soon.


With thanks to CIEH for the featured image.