Taking Advantage of Foul Circumstances - Trevor Bevis

STEAM power was a great advantage in more ways than one. It could be used to secure a fall in the town’s drains and by raising sewage enabling it to be used on the land via earthenware pipes and flexible hose and jet.

It was conjectured this would be a great boon to owners and tenants at March as the town had numerous allotments and cottage gardens but the man holding the hose might think differently!

The Public Health Act declared its intention of dealing with places similar to Little London and its deplorable roads. A hose could be used to direct water at accumulation of filth in the streets and direct it into drains underground. The charge worked out at about a halfpenny per week per house.

No graves would be opened in the future unless at a depth of five feet human remains would not be disturbed. When the new burial ground near the church had been filled an additional burial ground would be required. This is the cemetery opposite the church, the former Bells Field. The old Hythe, cause of much disease, was arched over part of it running beneath the Centenary and Providence churches.

Minor roads in March were repaired with gas tar mixed with coal, ashes or gravel and a little lime, this laid on a thick bed of rubbish. It was estimated that if each house had a hard pavement of four yards by five (20 superficial yards) the cost at a shilling per yard could be repaid at the rate of a farthing per week/per house. March at last took on a new aspect and only a diminished number of properties contain memories of the horror and suffering in an era which was surely the darkest the town has ever known.

Records are lenient towards property owners with uncaring attitude who were more concerned with rents and had no intention of improving tenanted properties which defied descriptions as homes. Nor can one condone the attitude of eminent men of the town vestry caught up with rich prospects of land drainage and loath to commit themselves and direct town finance to essential causes, until forced by better men and embarrassingly prone forms of hundreds of March dead.

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