One of Bacup’s earliest doctors was Dr
Joseph Hardman Worrall, he had his
surgery in Rochdale Road. On Todmorden
Road, Burwood Houses was the home of
firstly Dr Whittaker, and then the Dr’s Brown
whilst Rock House on Newchurch Road was
the home to various doctors such has Dr
Taylor, Brooks, McVean and Jones.
Click above for a full List of Bacup Doctors
The majority of the dwelling houses in Bacup were in
very poor conditon, many families were huddled
together in cellars and houses with little or no ventilation
and drainage. With very few privvies available open
cesspools at every corner were a common scene.
What was known as the night soil cart would makes it
rounds between 6am and 8am, in some areas it came
once every fortnight. Emptying the overfloweing pail which
was then put back into place without either being cleaned or
Water was hard enough to come by for drinking so the thought of
using it for washing or bathing in was just unheard of. The water in
1870 being described as either the colour of Worcestshire sauce or blue
milk. One person commented that the smell emenating from some Bacupains was
just overpowering. Not to mention the smell that permeated the streets between the hours
of 6am and 8am which is when the night soil cart did its rounds.
A report appeared in the Bacup Times July 1865, which read “ There are hundreds in our
locality who are possessed of so little self-respect as to almost neglect the practice of
bathing. I would entreat those who are restrained by fear and nervousness to put away
unmanly timidity, assuring them that intimacy will engender confidence. Those who may be
deterred by indolence merit no sympathy.”
It is hardly suprising given the descriptions above that many of the families in Bacup and
Stacksteads suffered ill health. Up until recent years many of the diseases that killed off our
ancestors were thought to have been virtually eradicated, scarily some of these are
comming back. Scarlet fever for instance caused thousands of deaths during victorian time,
at this time it was better known as Scarletina, due to the red rash that would cover the
Diseases like cholera, typhus, typhoid, dysentery, consumption and influenza were more or
less endemic at the time, erupting into epidemics when the right climatic conditions
coincided with periods of economic distress. The frequency of concurrent epidemics gave
rise to the belief that one sort of disease brought on another; indeed, it was widely believed
that influenza was an early stage of cholera.
Smallpox was a prevalent disease throughout the Victorian era but despite government
attempts to encourage parents to have their children vaccinated the uptake was low. After a
particularly bad epidemic an Act was passed in 1853 making vaccination compulsory for all
children born after 1st August 1853. Many people however still did not share the
enthusiasm for vaccination and declined to have their children vaccinated, preferring to pay
a fine in respect of each unvaccinated child. In 1867 more legislation removed this ‘escape
route’ and the Boards of Guardians (which looked after health and some other matters in
each area) had to prosecute parents who did not have their children vaccinated. Any unpaid
fines would lead to imprisonment or to the seizure and sale of the person’s possessions.
The process would then be repeated until he person complied. In 1898 a new law was
passed giving parents the opportunity to object and obtain a exemption certificate for thier
child. A report in the Bacup Times of April 1898 reads “ I hope the Goverment will compel
the Gaurdians to be vaccinated first, that they may have some idea of what a child has to
suffer”. The Guardians being the Poor Law Guardians whos job it was to adminster the
Anyone in the Bacup or Stacksteads areas suffering from smallpox was sent to the isolation
hospital at Sourhall situated 3 and half miles from Bacup and 1 mile from Todmorden. A
former two storey mill, it was opened in 1874 as a isolation hospital the costs being shared
by Todmorden and Bacup Local Boards.
The Borough of Bacup District Nursing
Society was formed in 1897 and comprised
of a President, three Vice Presidents,
Chairman , Hon Treasurer, Hon Secretary a
House Superintendent and a General
Committee. In 1905 a great deal of
fundraising was undertaken the funds raised
being used to buy a house in Dale Street
which would be used as a Nurses home and
treatment centre the house was number 33
Dale Street. Click above link for a full history.
11/10 1890 Artificial Eyes
Mr G. Mitchell, Oculist, & Aurist of the Leeds Eye & Ear Dispensary Artificial human eyes
fitted in a few minutes without pain. From 20/s each.
14/10/1890 Society for the Blind
On Wednesday next a public meeting in the Mechanics the proceeds to go to the
formation of a home teaching society for the blind of Rossendale. There are about 100
blind people in Rossendale. Our aim is to obtain names and addresses of all blind
people. To visit some of the poorer cases, teaching them to read and write in braille.
6/4/1912 Medical Insurance
Free Doctors, Free drugs, medical equipment, surgical appliances, and a weekly
payment during sickness. Men aged 21-50
26 weeks payment -10/-per week
If permanantley disabled -5/- per week
The worker pays nothing if any weekly wage is less than 9/- a week.
If 12/- a week he pays 1d
Over 15/- 4d
Mortality Rates 1889
In 1882 when Bacup received it's charter of
Incorporation the Bacup Hospital Charities
Fund was set up. Collections were made
throughout the community by events called
Hospital Saturday and Hospital Sunday and
from the working class community by
collections in the mills, factories and
Click above link for more information,
In 1917 a child welfare and Maternity clinic
was opened on Rochdale Road.
Prior to 1878 anyone could act as a dentist, up until
this time there was no regulations or dental register
and so it was that teeth were quite often pulled by
the local chemist, and it was common place to see
teeth for sale in the local watchmakers and jewellers.
Victorian medicined was based more often on luck
than management, a lot of the ingredients found on
many a chemist shelf would today be looked at in
horror. For instance in 1894 Karswood Creosote
could apparently cure Bronchitis, Asthma, Catarrh,
Influenza Whooping Cough.