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Facts for Bristol:
AN EXHAUSTIVE COLLECTION OF STATISTICAL AND OTHER FACTS RELATING TO THE CITY; WITH SUGGESTIONS FOR REFORM
ON SOCIALIST PRINCIPLES.
PRICE ONE PENNY,
To be obtained"atīthe Office of the Fabian Society, 276 Strand,
London, W.C.; of the Secretary of the Clifton and Bristol Fabian Society, 18 Cotham Road, Bristol; or of Mr. Rydill, Bookseller, Union Street, Bristol.
Facts for Bristol.
RISTOL is in many respects the most backward of English
. namest important towns in England own bheir
own waterworks: Bristol leaves this vital public service in the hands of a monopolist company earning a dividend of eight and a half per cent. Two-thirds of the gas-consumers in the United Kingdom are supplied by municipal enterprise : Bristol depends for light on a company earning ten per cent. More than a quarter of the tramways in this country are owned by public authorities: Bristol allows private adventurers to earn five per cent. by running cars through the public streets. Birmingham, Manchester, Bradford, and many other places keep all three of these public services under public control for public profit. Bristol enjoys the bad pre-eminence of being the largest provincial municipality which allows all three to remain in private hands for private advantage. Bristol can borrow capital at three and a half per cent. : if the capital of these companies had been municipal stock at three and a half per cent. instead of private investments at an average of six per cent., the inhabitants of Bristol would be saving £50,000 per annum, representing a rate of one shilling in the pound.
Public administration in Bristol is a confused and perplexing tangle of uncoordinated authorities, exercising diverse and illdefined powers over varying and over-lapping areas, elected on different franchises, at different dates, with different qualifications for membership. One public body spends money in opposing the projects of another. The poor rate varios from street to street within what is virtually one town. During three years, 1881-4, no fewer than 16 elections to one public body or another have taken place at a cost of about £3,000. Lack of public spirit, due largely to lack of knowledge of public affairs, is the inevitable result of this confusion.
Municipal reformers everywhere find their great difficulty in the want of accurate statistics and easily accessible facts dealing with local life. In the following pages an attempt is made to supply this want as far as Bristol is concerned, and to suggest some of the immediately practicable reforms in the local administration, which Socialists desire to press on the attention of the public.*
BRISTOL'S SIZE AND GROWTH. The area within the parliamentary boundaries of Bristol, as extended under the Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885, measures about five miles in extreme length, east and west, from Fishponds to the river Avon, and about four miles in extreme breadth (north and south), from Stapleton to Bedminster, and comprises 10,875 acres. The total population living within these limits will not fall very much below 300,000 when the census of 1891 is taken. In 1881 the numbers occupying this area, divided in 1885 into the present four constituencies, were 253,906 (North Division 64,713; West Division 60,874; East Division 61,986; South Division 66,333); of this total 206,874 lived within the municipal boundaries of the City and County of Bristol, the remainder (47,032) being made up by the local government districts of Horfield (4,766); St. George (26,433); Stapleton (10,833); and an extra part of Bedminster (5,000.)*
* Further statistics will be found in “Facts for Socialists" (Fabian Tract No. 5).
Before 1885 the parliamentary boundaries coincided with those of the municipality, which embrace 4,632 acres, with a circuit of 15 miles. Three-fourths of the municipal area lies in Gloucestershire; the remaining fourth, Bedminster, is in Somerset, and contains about a fifth of the population. In 1881, the municipal area had 32,061 inhabited houses, containing 206,874 persons, 4,632 acres, 45.5 to the acre, 32,120 to the square mile, 6:4 to each house, (Census Report, C. 3563). The population was estimated by the Medical Officer of Health to have increased to 232,248, up to the middle of 1890 (see his report for 1890). The figures of population are given in the following table (see Encycl. Britannica, vol. iv.):
232,248 Bristol formerly returned two members to Parliament, but since 1885 it has been divided into four constituencies as follows:
1891. Bristol West
7,922 registered electors. Bristol North
10,533 Bristol East
10,593 Bristol South
40,800 (Parl. Paper, H.C. No. 47 of 1886, and Western Daily Press, Jan.
, 1891.) As the percentage of men over 21 out of the total population is normally 22 per cent. (Census Return of 1881, C. 3797, p. 85), it may be assumed (taking an estimated population of 300,000), that there are about 65,000 adult males in Bristol. Therefore more than a third of the men of Bristol have no votes. † At the general election in 1885, when all the seats were contested, only 28,863 electors voted; and at the general election of 1886, only 25,422, about two-thirds of those on the register, and less than half of the number of adult males who would have been entitled to the vote under manhood suffrage.
* Kelly's Directory for Bristol (51, Great Queen Street, London, 1885). + “The New Reform Bill” (Fabian Tract No. 14) supplies detailed proposals in exact Parliamentary terms for the reform of this anomaly.
THE POOR OF BRISTOL. Bristol contains about 50,000 families. How many of these are able to maintain a decent existence, and how many are in poverty ? It
may be assumed that in Bristol, as elsewhere, four out of five of the adult males are manual laborers for weekly wages (Prof. Leone Levi, Times, 13th January, 1885). The Medical Officer of Health's for 1889 shows that 16:7 per cent. of the deaths in Bristol in 1889 took place in the workhouses, hospitals, and public lunatic asylums. As the inmates of these institutions are almost entirely drawn from the wage-earning class, and include an unusually large proportion of adults, it is practically certain that one in three of the wageearners ends his or her life in a bed provided by public charity. Over a third, indeed, of these deaths were those of indoor paupers. in the three workhouses.
Three public authorities are responsible for the relief of the Bristol poor, viz. :-the Bristol Incorporation of the Poor, the Barton Regis Union (which includes the parishes of Clifton, SS. Philip and Jacob (without), St. James and St. Paul (without), and! part of Westbury on-Trym, all situated in the City and County of Bristol, besides eight other parishes in the County of Gloucester), and the Bedminster Union (comprising 22 parishes in the County of Somerset, Bedminster being one, and the City portion of it forming its most populous and important fraction). The following are the latest statistics of their work:
relieved on and Infectious of Relief, Middle of 1889.
Jan. 1, 1890. Hospitals. Bristol Incorporation 53,972 7105 2,970
30,547 Barton Regis Union
5,026 300 city part... 128,815 46:1 3,204 192 29,656 Bedminster Union
2,894 140 city part... 46,574 46.9 1,845 90 15,441 Bristol Municipal Area 229,361 49.5
75,644 See Accounts of Poor Law Authorities, and Report of Medical Officer of Health for 1889, p. 54.
The total number of separate individuals who receive parochial relief during any one year is usually assumed to be at least three times* the number receiving relief on any one day. The number
persons in these Unions who were paupers at some time during 1889-90 was therefore about 3x8,019=24,057, or 10 per cent. of the population, being one in eight of the wage-earning class. +
Beds in Sick Total Cost:
Persons per acre,
THE HOUSING OF THE PEOPLE. Though the Bristol Committee's Report in 1884 states that: “there is not much overcrowding” (p. 33), according to the returns of the Medical Officer of Health, the people of Bristol are crowded
Dudley Baxter gave 3} as the more probable figure (“National Income,” p. 87); Mulhall's “Dictionary of Statistics” gives 3 (p. 346).
+ For a statement of the reforms in Poor Law administration most pressingly required see Fabian Tract, No. 8, “Facts for Londoners," p. 18; No. 17, “The Reform of the Poor Law"; and No. 20, “Questions for Poor Law Guardians.”
| Report of Committee appointed to Inquire into the Condition of the Bristol Poor (P. S. King and Son, King Street, Westminster, 1885), pp. 35, 47. See also. p. 10 of Report of Medical Officer of Health, 1889.
together more closely than the inhabitants of any of the 27 largest provincial towns in the United Kingdom, with the exception of Liverpool, Birmingham and Plymouth. Bristol's average of 50 perpersons to the acre is more than double that of Wolverhampton, Bradford, Nottingham or Blackburn, and treble that of Cardiff
, Sheffield, Huddersfield or Leeds.
In the City proper the density in 1889 was 71.5, and for the whole of Bristol the average has risen from 45.5 in 1881 to 49.5 in 1889. Thousands of Bristol families are huddled together in the 600 courts, and the very large number of houses without any backlet* which are mostly unfit for human habitation. The houses in the courts are densely crowded, there being an average of 4 persons to each room.
* Many other houses built for one family only are now let out in tenements, and are seriously deficient in closet and window accommodation.
Notwithstanding these facts no action has been taken by the Town Council under the Artisans' Dwellings Acts to provide decent accommodation for the poorer citizens. Other municipalities have been less backward in this respect.
In Liverpool the Corporation has cleared upwards of four acres, and itself erected five blocks of dwellings containing 322 tenements, and housing 1,300 persons at a cost for land and buildings of £130,816: 5,230 square yards remain still unbuilt. I In Greenock an area of about 31 acres was cleared in 1879-81, and the local authority itself erected 197 tenements with the best sanitary arrangements, accommodating 890 persons. I Glasgow has erected a block of tenement houses at a cost of £3,426, and the Dublin Corporation has built 226 tenements. In London, too, a small beginning has been made by the City Corporation, in building blocks in Farringdon Street (£1,716 received as rent in 1886-7 for 150 rooms), and in Petticoat Lane (240 tenements let in April, 1888, and 923 persons in occupation).
At least a thousand of Bristol's citizens have no better home than the common lodging houses, of which there are 54 registered, with 1,128 beds.|| The Town Council has so far made no attempt to provide decent accommodation for this class—the least able to provide homes for themselves. The Glasgow Corporation maintains no fewer than seven common lodging houses (six for men and one for women), which are most admirably managed. The rooms are clean, and in each house there is a comfortable recreation room in which lectures are delivered, and music is produced by a
" harmoniumist” whose salary appears regularly among the expenses. The inmates have ample opportnnity for cooking their food and drying their clothes, while cheese, candles, sugar, tea, etc., are sold to them by the Corporation at wholesale prices. From May 1887 to May
* See Report of Committee on Bristol Poor, quoted on p. 4. + The Medical Officer of Health (see his evidence before the Royal Commission for the Housing of the Working Classes, C. 4402, i., p. 223) has held that as their death-rate was not specially high, areas could not be condemned as unhealthy, and the enforcement of the tenement regulations has been used by him as a threat to compel voluntary improvement.
| House of Lords Return, 1888, No. 275, 3}d.