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Cholera hits Bilston

Medal commemorating the opening of the Bilston Chlorea Orphan School, BIEPH140, 1833

Medal commemorating the opening of the Bilston Chlorea Orphan School, BIEPH140, 1833

Life in Britain’s towns and cities was not pleasant during the 19th century, and was a far cry from the living conditions that we have today.

The first cholera outbreak to affect the whole world started in 1817 in South East Asia.  It soon spread across the world and arrived in the Midlands town of Bilston in 1832.  Overcrowded living conditions, poor sanitation and unclean water meant the disease spread quickly through the town.  Within two months over 3500 people had been affected by the disease, 749 people, 1 in 20 of the population died, 37 in Temple Street alone, and 450 children were orphaned. 

Rev. W. Leigh, Vicar of Bilston in his ‘History of the Cholera’ wrote:

‘Manufactories are closed, and business completely at a stand…. the hearse carrying the dead to the grave without intermission.’

Sadly these deaths were avoidable; the cholera could have been treated by giving patients clean water and salt to drink, but ignorance and a limited supply of clean water took its toll.

This medal commemorates the opening on 3 August 1833 of an orphange to house those children in Bilston that were left without any family to look after them as a result of the epidemic.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 12/18/2012 9:19 am

    My three times Grandparents died in the Cholera outbreak in 1832. I am descended from Charles Sutton. His Father was a Hatter at the time and many children were left orphaned in this family, but there are many descendants now from the Sutton family.


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