ANOTHER STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.|1877-06-30|Pontypool Free Press and Herald of the Hills - Welsh Newspapers Online
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ANOTHER STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. Last Saturday afternoon an interesting ceremony was performed near Battersea Park, when the first, buildings of the Metropolitan Artisans1 and Labourers' Dwellings Associationânow named, with her Ma- jesty's approval, the VICTORIA DWELLINGS ASSOCIA- TIONâwere declared open by the Earl of Beaconsfield. The object of the Association, as stated in the programme, is to provide, healthy and comfortable homes for artisans, more especially for the class termed labourers and persons earning small wages. The buildings inaugurated on Saturday are erected on land belonging to the Association immediately adjoining Battorsea Park. They are built in flats, as nearly fireproof as may be. Each tenement in the Artisans' Dwellings and each block of four rooms for those of the labourers are entirely separated from others by an open-ah" space, so that in case of fever or small-pox thtre would be little danger of the epidemic sprea.lhig. The drains, to quote the pro- gramme, are so ajfeanged as to prevent the possibility of escape of foul atfifum the setters into the dwellings, and the sinks in tenements are all trapped. Each tenement has a, cr, t supply of fresh water, the use of a wash-liouse,hunker, and dust shoot, and generally great <» has,been taken to insure for the tenants all the at tif the best known sanitary appliances. The ).D.8\ dwelling's are self-contained, that is to sav, witRJ^the outer door, which opens on to a general staircase, tsrfe all the conveniences required by a family except tlgj w afchhouses, which are detached from the Vulding,tTheise tenements contain, in most cases, three goodlSiM^-ii^ldtehen, bedroom, and sittattg-roorn, wfcjelFQten be twed also as a bedroom. The labourers'fclocfcs are so divided that the rooms can be let singly, or in twos, threes, and fours. By this arrangement tenants will be enabled to occupy additional rooms ali their families increase or as their circumstances impure. The rentals for these rooms will be less than those which are now too often paid for habitations totally unfit for occupation. There was a lamjf attendance of ladies and gentle- men, who were acmitted to the grounds by cards of invitation. Amongihose present were the Lord Chan- cellor, the Bishop of Winchester, the Lord Chief Baron, the Earl of Verulam, the Earl and Countess of Stanhope, the Countess of Scarborough, Lord and Lady Rosslyn, Lady Elizabeth Drummond, Lord Gordon, Mr. Cross, M.P., &c., &c. The proceedings were commenced by Mr. Walter, M.P., who was received with cheers.âWe give the following extracts from his interesting speech :â I have a few words to address to you by way of explaining the objects of this Association, and more particularly the object which has induced us to seek your attendance to-day. The condition of the dwellings of the labouring classes in this M etropolis has long been a source of the greatest anxiety and concern to all reflecting people. One fact alone I will men- tion hi proof of that statement. In spite of the manifold advantages London enjoys from its unrivalled natural position, through which it is, in spite of many defects, the most healthy capital in the world, its rate of mortality rate not exceeding 23 or 24 per thousand a year, the difference between the healthiness of different districts in London is such that whereas the normal mortality is, as I have stated, about 24 per thousand, the mortality of certain districts is no less than 40 or 6* per thousand, and that mortality is distinctly attributable to disease-tbe filth and foul air which produce disease. (Hear, hear.) That fact alone, I think, speaks volumes, and suggests an amount of misery and disease of which ve can hardly form a conception, and from which we gladly turn away our eyes if we could, But we cannot (cheers), for this fact suggests other considerations besides those of a sanitary charac- ter. It suggests considerations of a moral and social character of which we have been often warued and to be impressed with them we have only to look around us and consider the serious joints of contrast that exist between wealth and poverty, and of all the points of contrast between wealth and poverty, none are of so painful a cha- racter as the difference between the dwellings of the rich and poor. (Hear, hear.) I do not mean to imply by that the dwellings of the upper classes are too good, because our palaces in London are very few, and the dwel- lings of the upper and middle classes, taken as a whole, are certainly not remarkable either for much architectural beauty without or any excessive accommodation within. ("Hear," and a laugh.) But I do speak of the dwellings of the very poor in certain districts at least in this Metropolis. Let any one take a turn through that part of Westminster which lies between Eccleston-square and the Abbey. Let him walk through the noisome courts and alleys of that district, or let him wander, if he is so disposedâand I don't think he will be very apt to repeat his visitâbetween Trafalgar-square and Oxford-street, through the purlieus of St. Giles's and Soho; then, on the other hand, let him pay a visit to one of those groups of dwellings ljuilt on this principleâbuilt either through the generosity of Paabody or through the enterprise of Sir Sydney Waterlow and his company or any other com- panyâfor I do them all equal credit, being founded for the purpose of meeting this evil (hear, hear), and let him con- sider the different feelings that will arise in his mind after the two visits. In the one case he will be disposed when wandering through the noisome districts to quicken his pace and hold his nose, to thank Heaven he is out of .it, and to wonder how people can live in such hovels. On the other hand, he will see nothing to shock the eye, if he doetl Mfc,-aeo fcinclj to gratify it-he will see, if not lafov,' every convenience for health pro- vided for tjpse who are fortunate enough to occupy those buildings. (Cheers.) Here he will see a site fit for a nobleman. (Cheers.) He will find for those who inhabit these blocks every sanitary arrangement and comfort which the skill of the architect and builder can suggest, and he will feel that those persons, whatever other quarrels they may have with their lot, have, at least, no legitimate quarrel to find with their houses. (Hear, hear.) Let me say a word with respect to the steps taken during the last 25 or 30 years to combat a growing evil. The Metropolis is increas- ing at the rate of 40,000 a year, and within the last 20 years all that has been done by the various societies, including the Peabody Association, to provide improved dwellings for the poor, has not yet housed more than that number- 40,000. (Hear, hear.) I believe the first association was the Metropolitan Associationâa very respectable and flourishing body. Then a great effort was made by Mr. Peabody, that most generous benefactor to London. (Cheers.) Tke capital of the Peabody Association amounts now to £ 600,000, and there are something like 10,000 whose homes have heen permallenth improved through the generosity of that kind benefactor' (Cheers.) Sir Sidney Waterlow's Company have a capitiil of between £:>00,000 to £400,000, and they, I should tiling, provide fur ahout one-half as many. Then there are other ^.ssoelationsâI need not go through themâwho have done good work and last, hut not least, comes the.Association vhose first completed work you have met this afternoon to iuaugurate. (Cheers.) There is this imlJOrtant point to b borne in mind in considering this question. Every year almost some encroachments are madc on the available space of the Tondon poor, either by driving new streets through the letropolis- a most important and absolutely necessary work- or by laying íresh lines of railway, or building new stations, or even such objectionable buildings as the Law Courts (a laugh), which alone dislodged 4,000 people in one of the most densely crowded parts of the Metropolis. (Hear, hear.) How is that space to be made up ? It is alto- gether a mistake to suppose that London is a densely- peopled capital. It is no such thing. In the densest part of the Metropolis, in Westminster, there are under 300 per- sons per acre, and that is one of the most unhealthy parts. Xow, it has been proved by ample trial that, by adopting a plan of construction like what you see before you, which is the same plan substantially as the Peabody and Sir Sidney Waterlow's Association have adopted, you may accom- modate 1,600 per acre infinitely better than 300 can be accommodated under the old system. (Cheers.) Instead of spreading London out, you must rear it upwardsâyou must raise it to the clouds. (Cheers.) There is no other way of meeting the difficulty, for, in spite of all the poetry attaching to suburban homes, of which you have an example at Penge, and instead of cheap railway fares, it is an un- deniable faet that the great mass of the Metropolitan poor, artisans and labourers, must live near their work; it may be a most disagreeable fact to contemplate, but that is the only way to provide for it. (Hear, hear.) Two years ago my right hon. friend the Home Secretary, Mr. Cross, introduced a most admirable Bill into Parliament (hear, hear), for meeting this difficulty on a large scale by combining the purification of the Metropolis with the removal of UD- wholesome and noxious buildings, and at the same time providing a machinery for supplying their places with wholesome and improved buildings. (Hear, hear.) And now a word about the financial character of the Association. All these Associations are what we in Parliament would call of a hybrid character that is, they are based partly on philanthropic and partly on commercial considerations. They are philan- thropic so far as they are intended exclusively for a certain class of the population, and that the humbler class, which have not the means of providing a good home for them- selves. They are commercial so far as they are based on essentially economic considerations, and intended to yield a fair and proper return to their subscribers. I take the state of the case to be about this :âSuppose an ordinal building investment calculated to yield from 6 to 6t or 7 per cent we consider if a building of this kind pay 5 per cent.âwe hope it may not be less, and we do not desire moreâthe shareholders may take out the additional one and a-half or two per cent. from the comfortable feeling they will have that they could not spend their money better for the good of mankind. (Cheers.) And when I consider how much money has been squandered in this country during the last 20 years in loans to foreign Governments, when I consider how that money has been spent in useless or miscà ievous enterprises, and when I think that one-fourth of that sum would have rebuilt the metropolis, I must say £50,000,000 would have been more profitably applied in improving the dwellings of the poor than in enabling the Turks to build ironclads add useless palaces. (Cheers.) The Earl of Beaconsfield in the course of his speech said:â I need not, ladies and gentlemen, impress upon you that the home is the unit of civilization. From it spring all those influences which give a character to society either for good or for evil-either for a beneficent or of character. A man who feels that his home is Home. &weet Home," is proud of the community in which he dwells but the man who feels that his home is a den of misery alldLrime immediately assails that society of which he beHeves he is the unjust victim. (Cheers.) Now, ladies and gentle- men, I have touched on the health of the people, and I know there are many who look upon that as an amiable but merely philanthropic expectation to dwell upon. But the truth is, the matter is much deeper than it appears upon the surface. (Hear, hear.) The health of a people is really the foundation upon which ,.11 their happiness and all their power as a State depend. (Cheers.) It is quite possible for a kingdom to be inhabited by an able and active population, you may have successful manufactures and you may have a productive agriculture; the arts may flourish, architecture may cover your land with temples and palaces, you may have even material power to de- fend and support all these acquisitions, you may have arn1S of precision and fleets of fish-torpedoes, but if the population of the country is stationary or yearly diminishing â if, while it diminishes in number, it diminishes also in stature alld 111 strength, that country is doomed. (Cheers.) And, speaking to those who, I hope are not ashamed to say that they ape proud of the empire to which they belong and which their ancestors created (cheers), 1 recommend to them, by all the means in their powcr. to assist the movement that is 1l0W prevalent in this country to ameliorate the condition of the people by improving the dwellings iu which they live. (Loud cheers.) The health of the people is, in my opinion, the first duty of a statesman. iCheers.) Impressed with that consideration, I have endeavoured, however humbly, at all times to artist movement:; of this character (cheers), and I am confident that there is no object of higher importance to engage the interests of society. (Cheer;.) I have one more duty to fulrtl before I ccase to trouble you with these remarks. Iter Majesty takes a deep interest in this move- mcat for thc improvement of the dwellings of her pcoplc- (cheers)âand, understanding that to-day I should bavo rhe honour and pleasure of ollcring as far as I could my influ- ence for its success, she has commanded me to express her wish that her name may be associated with this institution (cheers)âand in future these buildings will be called "The Victoria D'.vellin^s for Artisans and Labour arc." (Loud

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