Dublin Core




Places of Resistance


A curious example of local resistance to health reforms took place in Leeds during a severe outbreak of cholera in 1849. The residents ignored "calls to clean up the area and instead went and stood outside the local alkali factory for days on end" (Sigsworth & Worboys 244). Sigsworth and Worboys explain this curious behavior as a response to the current medical view of miasma as the means of spreading disease: "They did this because they believed that the caustic fumes and pungent smells coming from its chimneys were both protective and disinfectant; they had remembered that none of the employees of the factory had died during the 1832 epidemic" (244).

Additionally, Sigsworth and Worboys also note that "working-class radicals in Leeds [protested] the worsening state of local rivers, resulting in their view from direct pollution and from reduced flows as water was taken for industrial uses" (Sigsworth & Worboys 241). If you close this popout and zoom in, you'll notice that while Leeds is not downriver from Bradford Beck, it is directly downriver from the larger city of Bradford, right next to it. Probably some of the same industries that were dumping their waste into the smaller canal at Bradford Beck were also dumping into the River Aire that supplied both Bradford and Leeds.


Frances Thielman


Sigsworth Michael and Michael Worboys. "The Public's View of Public Health in Mid-Victorian Britain." Urban History 21.2 (1994): 237-250. Web. 5 Feb. 2013.


Frances Thielman, “Leeds,” Appalachian State University, accessed March 1, 2024, https://omeka-dev.library.appstate.edu/items/show/24.

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