The health of the population in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries was often directly related to housing and working conditions. The rapid increase in population due to the Industrial Revolution led to overcrowding in cramped accommodation with poor sanitation. This is turn led to epidemics such as typhus, cholera and tuberculosis.

Damp and humid conditions in the mills also led to illnesses such as bronchitis, pneumonia and tuberculosis. Employment in the local factories, mills and quarries meant working with hazardous equipment and chemicals with little or no protection.

As time progressed efforts were made to improve conditions leading to an improvement in the health of the population.

In 1867 The Public Health Scotland Act allowed local authorities to appoint medical officers and to raise money for public health through local rates.

Housing standards slowly improved and some factory owners, such as Alexander Crum in Thornliebank, made efforts to build good quality housing for their workforce.

Developments in water supply, sanitation and the introduction of inside toilets all contributed to the decrease in incidences of serious life-threatening diseases. In Barrhead, for example, a piped water supply and sewage system was introduced in 1860-65. The opening of the Gorbals Waterworks in Glasgow led to the supply of piped water directly into houses in many areas and meant the end of water being transported from wells.

This section will explore local health related topics in more detail.


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