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    Victorian Health. Image: Washing the streets of Covent Garden to prevent the spread of Cholera, 1894

    Middle class men might live, on average, to 45. The average lives of workmen and labourers spanned just half that time. Children were lucky to survive their fifth birthdays. (The current life expectancy is around 80, and rising.) Image: A ‘Pathetic picture of pain and perplexity’, advertisement, 1850

    It was believed that bad smells caused disease. It was obvious; in poor districts, the air was foul and the death rate high. In the prosperous suburbs, no smells – therefore no disease. Image: Punch cartoon showing the creatures in Thames water, 1850

    Parliament was worried by the ‘Great Stink’ of 1858, when the Thames flowed with undiluted sewage, because the smell itself might kill the Members of Parliament in their debating chamber overlooking the river. Image: Father Thames introducing his offspring, 1858

    John Snow discovers the source of cholera, 1855

    Few upper-class ladies breast-fed their children. The babies’ immune systems would have benefited from their mother's milk. Victorian nurseries were plagued by childhood diseases – measles, mumps, diphtheria, scarlet fever, rubella - that are mostly, now, a nightmare of the past. Image: ‘Non toxic’ milk foods for infants, 1900

    There’s very little hope but try Scott's Emulsion, advertisement, 1889

    The Victorian medical scene was not bad at all. In London, St Thomas’s, a medieval foundation, had to move to make way for a railway line; its new site was beside the Thames, where the air was now pure, due to Bazalgette’s magnificent new drainage system. Nevertheless Florence Nightingale insisted on open balconies and airy wards, to counteract any hospital-generated miasma, and her designs influenced hospital architecture for decades, in Britain and the Empire.

    Diary of one of Florence Nightingale’s trainee nurses, 1896

    The middle classes deplored the reliance on quacks and quack medicines by the poor: the middle classes could afford proper medical care; the poor could not. Street vendors, ready to run if necessary, sold patent medicines on a ‘no cure, no pay’ basis. Fashionable charlatans could make a good living from their wares. Image: Satire on quack cures: a horrified man discovering his nose has turned into a carrot, 1835

    Crane's Little Bon-Bon Pills for Sluggish Liver, 1885

    Smedley's chillie paste is ‘the king’ of cures, 1850-1

    Powell's Balsam of Aniseed

    Advertisement for Beecham's Pills, 1850-1

    Police work in the East End

    Newspaper report on the Whitechapel murderer aka Jack the Ripper, 1888

    Crimes reported in the Illustrated Police News, 1870

    Instructions for Constables from The Constable’s Pocket Companion and Guide, 1830

    Cleaves Illustrated Metropolitan Police Act, 1839

    A sketch at the central criminal court during the late trial of OConnor

    Male and female convicts, 1862

    Convicts exercising at Pentonville Prison, 1862

    Inside a hospital ship, 1862

    External view of a Hulk prison ship, 1862

    Victorian broadside about a transportation, c.1800 - 1853.