Under the Public Health Act of 1848, English towns could apply to set up Local Boards of Health. Some Witham residents applied to do so in October 1848. They sent a lengthy petition and stressed the complete absence of public drainage in the town.
As a result, Edward Cresy, a “Superintending Inspector”, was sent from Whitehall to investigate. It is his report which is reproduced here. It startled the better-off residents of Witham with its gruesome descriptions of the town’s living conditions.
So by 1852 Witham’s own Local Board of Health had been elected and had met. And in 1869 it completed the construction of the town drainage and water supply, supported by the rates. This was all a considerable achievement, especially in the light of the usual opposition from some of the ratepayers. Some of them always objected to anything which meant an increase in the rates, however worthy the cause.