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Britain’s Population explosion in the 19th century

Uploaded by Sxyclr on Nov 09, 2004

“The most important factor in Britain’s Population explosion in the 19th century was better medical care” To what extent do you agree with the statement above?


There are many reasons why the population increased in the 19th century such as better medical care/medicine and better public health. However I believe that better medical care/medicine was partly the reason why Britain’s population exploded but I believe the main reason was better public health.
In 1801 the total population in Britain was 10 million, by 1901 it was 38 million. In 1800 the number of deaths per 1000 in London was 39 and in 1900 it was 18. In 1800 most people made their own herbal cures and as a very last resort went to one of the few hospitals. The hospitals were filthy and patients were often kept in the same ward whether they had a highly infectious disease or a minor problem. Doctors were hopeless and in an operation the patient was made incredibly drunk or strapped down to the table while the doctor sliced him/her open with unwashed instruments. Doctors realised there was some connection between filth and disease but though it was ‘bad air’.
The first forty years of the century the health of the people deteriorated. The drinking water was filthy and sewage was everywhere. Overcrowding meant disease could spread easier. Poor food and dreadful conditions meant many illnesses that are minor today were fatal then. Cholera and typhoid, which are spread by drinking water becoming mixed with sewage, were very common. The first step forward was when cheap cotton was available, the working class began to wear cotton everything instead of woollen things. Wool can only be washed in warm water and must never be boiled therefore it does not kill the germs, cotton can be boiled and so it kills all the germs. The new factories began to make cheap soap so that housewives could buy it from the shops as they rarely had time to make their own. The improvements in iron manufacture helped towns in the second half of the century to lay down water and sewage pipes quickly and cheaply and this I believe helped raise the standards of health in towns more than anything else.
In medicine a safe vaccination for smallpox was invented. In 1846 a doctor used laughing gas to put patients to sleep but too much laughing gas meant the...

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Uploaded by:   Sxyclr

Date:   11/09/2004

Category:   History

Length:   5 pages (1,205 words)

Views:   2560

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