Paving the streets of Sunderland was a key part of the process of improving public health.
It is important because paved roads were much easier to sweep and keep clean. Our group found constant references to flagging and reflagging the streets throughout the period we looked at.
There seems to have been a mixed approach. They found a mixture of instances of streets being paved at the corporation’s expense, perhaps relating to major streets. They also found many references to individual property owners and occupiers being instructed to pave the streets in front of their properties.
As the flagging in the main streets became worn and needed replacing, old flags were re-used in poorer parts of town. For example, at a council meeting on 20 June 1855, it was ordered:
‘That the low end of Baine’s Lane be flagged with old flags and that a stench trap be put in.’
You can see this entry from the minutes at the top of this page.
There was a potential downside to paving the streets. If the sewerage and draining was not adequate, flooding could occur in periods of heavy rain. Our group found a lengthy complaint to the Health Committee from a Mr Middlemiss of Fawcett Street. Middlemiss seems to have been a builder, engaged in building houses on land at Briery Lane. He writes that, due to the recent paving of Azalea Terrace, his building land has been regularly flooded. He has had to put a temporary drain in himself, but asks that the Corporation improve the drainage in order that he can continue with the building of his houses.
View Mr Middlemiss’s letter...