Smoke and industrial pollution

Smoke and industrial pollution was considered to be one of the main issues facing Sunderland and our group found a number of references to the problem.

The Reid report on the sanitary condition of the town, written in 1845, remarks on the problem of smoke in the town:

     ‘Sunderland [has] many natural advantages for open walks and external ventilation; but these are considerably impaired by a number of manufactories that rise toward the west, and emit offensive smoke, which, from the prevalence of westerly winds, very generally affects one portion or another of the town.

The committee of local inhabitants which reported to Reid felt that smoke was one of the four main causes of the poor condition of the borough:

     ‘we must not omit to notice the smoke arising from the various manufactories of glass, iron, alkali etc., which from the particular states of the wind pervades the whole town, there producing an atmosphere which there is little doubt must lend its aid in affecting prejudicially the health of the town’.

The minutes of the Sanitary Committee meeting of 15 December 1858 includes a list of 101 persons who had notices served on them to consume the smoke produced by their manufactories and businesses.  This included a range of different businesses including bakeries, rope works, potteries and foundries.  In addition a number of steam ships are also listed.  This was the only mention of such notices that our group found, so it may not have been a policy pursued by the Corporation.

See part of the list from the Sanitary Committee minutes.