Small pox 1761
EPIDEMIC diseases attacks many people mercifully and can easily spread to nearby Towns.
The epidemic of small pox was imported into Wednesbury from Tipton, and from there spread to West Bromwich, Darlaston, and Walsall.
These epidemics are much worse when people live in close confinements. Especially when there is no sanitation.
Wednesbury really had experienced a lot of suffering and misery between the years 1349 and 1369, when the Black Death swept away half the population.
But the first recorded ‘epidemic’ was in 1761, when small pox raged through the town.
Vaccination was not discovered till 1798, and in those times it wreaked havoc on the population.
In 1832 cholera re-visited, and before it was completely banished it had claimed 30,924 victims in England and Wales.
Bilston suffered more than any other place in the country, for out of a population of 14,492 it lost 742, It was called: “The Epidemic centre of the Midland Coalfield”
On 3rd August of the following year a “Cholera School” was opened there for the reception of the numerous orphans whose parents had perished.
This institution was the result of local philanthropist, John Etheridge, an artist in the Japan trade.
The disease that was again introduced into Wednesbury ravaged for many weeks. People were buried hurriedly and in the dark of night.
The higher powers of the nation, however, still remained lamentably blind, and sixteen years were allowed to elapse before the Public Health Act was passed (1848). In the meantime large centres of population, like Bilston and Wednesbury. were left to struggle on without any help.
In 1848 cholera again appeared and although the number of deaths rose quickly, it was not quite to the extent as before.
To treat the cholera patients they erected a Hospital made out of wooden huts on Monway-field.
When the cholera was stamped out, people’s health was still at risk and still more died.
Then came another epidemic of small-pox in 1882 the disease first appeared in St. James’s Street, and rapidly assumed an epidemic form.
And on June 15, although 35 fresh cases had broken out in a fortnight, the disease was declared to have done its worst.
No permanent Hospital had yet been provided for the town.
Government = Ostrich?