The living conditions during the Industrial Revolution
Not only did England's population increase between 1750 (=140 million) and 1850 (=266 million), the location of that population changed significantly. In 1785, four cities in England and Scotland had populations of more than 50,000; and, the population of London in 1800 was about one million. By 1850, London's population had reached almost 2.4 million, and there were 9 cities with a population in excess of 100,000 and 18 with populations between 50,000 and 100,000. If inhabitants of towns under 50,000 are counted as urban dwellers, then 50% of the British population lived in towns and cities by mid-century. And as these new cities grew, inhabitants had to face tremendous political and social problems, the latter because living conditions in the industrial cities were poor. Problems with water, sewage, and garbage disposal were widespread, while housing was poorly constructed, dark, and unhealthy; it was common for an entire family to live in one room. According to a contemporary parliamentary report:
In the centre of this street there is a gutter into which potato parings, the refuse of vegetable and animal matter of all kinds, the dirty water from the washing of clothes and of the houses are all poured, and where they stagnate and putrify . . . all the lanes and alleys of the neighborhood pour their contents into the centre of the main street . . . . Families live in the cellars and kitchens of these undrained houses. [Perry, West Civ, 4th ed, II, 490]
- Population increased to about 5.5 million people.
- There were very few buildings
- "A block of 40 houses would have possibly 6 toilets for all persons."