Wednesday, 29 March 2017

A Doctor's Protest

Thursday 29th March 1917: At the police station the Borough Coroner, Mr Charles Bell, conducted an inquiry into the death of the infant daughter of the late Private William Matin of Saddler’s Court. The main witness, Dr A. F. Goldsmith, testified that when he was fetched for the child, she appeared to be reasonably well nourished and cared for. The house was beautifully clean. However, there was no fireplace in the bedroom and it was most likely the infant died of convulsions from the cold. In the doctor’s opinion, the lack of fireplace was the fault of the landlord and not the parents. Too many poor children were born in bitterly cold rooms and every cottage should have at least one bedroom with a fireplace.

Julia Boswell, sister of the mother, testified that the child was born on the 17th March. The father belonged to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and was killed two months ago in Mesopotamia. The child had seemed quite well when put to bed on Monday night and first thing Tuesday morning, but tragically passed away later that morning.

In summing-up, the Coroner stated that the issue raised by the Doctor had two sides. Ideally, there should be a fireplace in every bedroom, but arrangements could have been made downstairs in the cottage. As the house was in a poor neighbourhood, he saw no reason for complaint or casting aspersions on the house. However, he thanked the Doctor for raising the matter. The jury found that the child died from natural causes.

Source: Bedford Record 3/4/1917

1925 valuation map showing Chandos Street, a section of which was known as Saddler's Court
(Bedfordshire Archives & Records Service)

Records in the Bedford Borough Collection reveal that houses in Saddler’s Court were declared ‘unfit for human habitation’ in September 1932 and a demolition order was issued two months later [see BorBB12/5/5a & 5b]

No comments:

Post a Comment