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Previously there had been no requirement to employ medical staff. Medical treatment, for those unable to afford private doctors’ fees, was only available through charitable dispensaries or workhouse infirmaries. The main Chelsea dispensary was situated in Sloane Square and in Kensington Church Street there was a small dispensary and hospital to serve the whole parish.
Progress was fitful and in one notorious area, the infamous Notting Dale Piggeries and Potteries, virtually non-existent. Here pigs outnumbered humans, pools of fetid water gathered and infant mortality was over 50 per cent. The problems seemed to be intractable. On Booth’s Poverty Maps of 1899 the area was coloured black equating to conditions in London’s East End. Similar slums were also found in Chelsea, such as Turks Row, Paradise Row and Worlds End but as these areas were far from the centre their problems could be overlooked. In contrast the notorious rookeries along the Kensington High Street, such as Market Court, Brown’s Buildings and Jenning’s Buildings, were swept away in the late 1860s.
However matters were improving, especially under Dr Dudfield, Medical Officer of Health from 1871 to 1908. Notable gains were made in the analysis of food, infant welfare and the inspection of work places, especially the appointment of first ever female inspectors.
Chelsea Dispensary in Sloane Square
Plan of the Potteries, Notting Hill, 1848