Tag Archives: Rabbetts

1928 : Pigs starved to death

From the Norwood News of Friday 29th June 1928, via the British Newspaper Archive:


” The evidence is quite clear. You have been guilty of most appalling cruelty. All the magistrates are agreed that they never heard a more revolting case. You will have to go to hard labour for six weeks.”

Sir Arthur Spurgeon, chairman of the Croydon County Bench, made these remarks on Wednesday to XXXX, of 249, Church-road, Mitcham, who was summoned on four informations for, being the owner of ten pigs, he permitted and caused unnecessary suffering to them by unreasonably omitting to supply them with food and water at Batsworth-road Allotment Grounds on May 12.

Mr. E. B. Knight, prosecuting, said defendant was employed at the Mitcham Gas Works as a stoker, at a salary of £4 13s. 6d. per week. About three years ago he built some pig sties on his allotment plot at Batsworth-road, and began keeping pigs. On May 12, the sties were inspected by Mr. Rabbetts, the Council’s Nuisance Inspector, who found ten pigs in an absolutely starving condition. In addition, there were the remains of three other pigs which had died, or been killed, and the remains had been eaten by the other pigs.


In one sty there were a sow and two small pigs, and the carcase of a small pig with the back legs partly eaten away, and the skin and remains of another pig. There were six small pigs in the second sty, and the bones of another. In the third sty there was one sow. There should have been 14 pigs altogether. The carcases of three were there, but where the fourth was they did not know.

The great probability was that no food or water had been given to the pigs for about three weeks. They had been shockingly neglected. In the tub or tank there were potato peelings covered with scum not fit for pigs or anything else.


” It is difficult to understand,” added Mr. Knight, “how anyone could let these pigs starve to death in this unaccountable way. The whole of the stock had to be destroyed. Inspector Scott saw defendant, who told him that, some soap had got into the wash and given the pigs scaldings, which had upset them. A more callous indifference to the suffering of animals could hardly be conceived. When Inspector Scott asked defendant when he had last brought food, the reply was, “I do not know. I have been saving the wash from the house to save expense.”

The particulars given by Mr. Knight as to the condition of the pigs were substantiated by Mr. C. E. Rabbetts, chief sanitary inspector for Mitcham U.D. Council.

Inspector Scott also corroborated.


Mr. Richard Herbert Evans, a veterinary surgeon, said the pigs had been without food or water for quite three weeks. It was possible for the pigs to have killed the weak ones and eaten their carcases. The entire stock were in too weak and emaciated a condition to have been fit for human consumption, and would never have recovered. The five months’ old pigs, which should have weighed about 85 lbs., were only 20 lbs.; and the seven months, which should have weighed about 120 lbs., were only 30 lbs. The animals must have endured intense suffering.


Defendant said he could only put it down to a long run of bad luck, and to the fact he had been feeling very unwell. He had sustained big losses with pigkeeping, and became so depressed and worried that he did not know what be was doing. He was vary sorry.

On hearing the sentence, defendant exclaimed, ” I hope you will save me from prison for the sake of my wife and children.”

Sir Arthur: You should have thought of that before.

1902 Inspector Rabbett’s Report to the Parochial Committee

From the minutes of the Croydon Rural District Council
Volume 8
1902 to 1903
Mitcham Parochial
29th April 1902
pages 66 and 67


—Inspector Rabbets reported that since the last meeting, he had paid 250 visits to premises of which, 27 were primary inspections. Four visits had been made to slaughterhouses, three to dairies and cow-sheds, and four to piggeries.

Nuisances had been abated at 1 to 4, Rosemary Cottages ; ” Nursery Cottage,” and No. 6, Nursery Road ; 17, Fountain Road ; Blume’s Factory ; 6 and 7, Manor Villas ; 3, 4, and 7, Upper Green ; and 1 to 8, Bridge Road.

The drains of 14 houses had been primarily tested, and 12 tests had been applied to drains in course of re-construction. Two patients had been removed to hospital, and two houses had been disinfected.

The nuisance arising from all accumulation of filth and stagnant water at Orchard Pit, Westfields, was being abated, and the wooden pigsty would become disused as soon as the concrete one, now being constructed, was completed.

1902 Wandle polluted from Gas Works

From the minutes of the Croydon Rural District Council
Volume 8
1902 to 1903
Public Health
17th April 1902
page 21


—Inspector Rabbetts reported

—That in consequence of repeated complaints by Mr. T. Harris, a watercress grower, of High Street, Colliers-wood, of the polluted state of the water in the river at various times. He has kept observation on the outlet of the Western Road surface water sewer which is at the end of Phipp’s Bridge Road, opposite the ” Albion ” Public House. He has noticed various colored liquids flowing through at times, particularly on a Wednesday and Thursday morning, but had not been able to discover the source of pollution until Wednesday morning, the 9th April, when he noticed a strong smell of coal gas at the outlet of the sewer. He had the manhole covers taken off and found the effluent being discharged from the Mitcham Gas Works was highly charged with gas. He took a sample of the effluent and showed it to Mr. Green, junior, son of the Gas Works Manager, who admitted the gas present in the sample was strong, and thought there must be a leakage in their mains. He promised to look into the matter. Inspector Rabbetts would be glad to know the Council’s views as to what steps should be taken to prevent a recurrence of the offence.

Resolved, That the Gas Co. be informed that proceedings will be taken under the Public Health Act should any repetition of the offence occur.

Minutes of meetings held by the Croydon Rural District Council are available on request from the Merton Heritage and Local Studies Centre at Morden Library.

1923 Sanitary Inspector Report

Source : the Wellcome Library


To the Chairman and Members of the Urban District Council of Mitcham.

Mrs. Hallowes and Gentlemen,

I beg to submit my ninth annual report on the work carried out in the district during the year 1923 by myself, Mr. R. Richards and Mr. A. Handley (Assistant Inspector, permanently appointed in October last).

This extra assistance has brought the arrears of house-to-house inspection fairly well up to date, and by the exercise of closer supervision, better work is obtained. Only two householders availed themselves of the provisions of the Rents Restriction Acts by applying for certificates of unfitness of their premises. With a view to keeping down the mosquito nuisance as much as possible, the ponds, pools, ditches and other mosquito breeding places were regularly sprayed with paraffin during the summer months. I append a summary of the character of work done in the course of the year:- 951 intimatory notices were served. In 319 instances it was necessary to report for authority to serve statutory notice, followed in four instances by legal proceedings before the magistrates, resulting in fines and costs amounting to £2 16s. being imposed.

Summary of Sanitary Work carried out in the District during the year ended December 31st, 1923.

Total number of visits paid 7662
Number of complaints received and investigated 191
Number of premises inspected 2157
Number of premises revisited 3966
Number of nuisances discovered 1489
Number of nuisances abated without report 756
Number of nuisances abated after report 399
Number of intimatory notices served 951
Number of statutory notices served 319
Notices followed by legal proceedings 4
Houses inspected under the Housing and Town Planning Act 217
Number of revisits to infected houses 78
Number of house drains tested 13
Number of drains found defective 10
Number of tests applied to new drainwork 8

Character of Work Done.

Houses repaired and cleansed generally 441
Overcrowding abated 14
Roofs repaired 177
Damp walls remedied 9
Eaves guttering and spouting renewed or repaired 165
Water closets renewed, repaired or cleaned 59
Water closet flushing cisterns and flush pipes renewed or repaired 111
Water cisterns cleansed or covered 50
Water supply to houses reinstated 5
Back yards paved or paving repaired 78
Floors repaired 135
Dustbins provided 199
Premises where animals improperly kept were removed or improved 7
Offensive accumulations removed 30
Urinals cleansed or repaired 10
Piggeries repaired or improved 7
Houses or parts disinfected and cleansed 184
Smoke nuisances abated 6
Houses at which drains were reconstructed or new provided 9
Drains repaired, cleansed, trapped or ventilated 179


There are two registered slaughterhouses and five annually licensed slaughterhouses, one of which is used as a knackers’ premises and another for slaughtering horses for exportation for human food. These are visited periodically to see that the byelaws in force, including the use of the ” humane killer,” are conformed to. 270 visits in all were paid. On no occasion was there any cause for serious complaint.

Factories, Workshops and Outworkers.

272 visits have been paid to these premises, including 66 to bakehouses, of which there are 16 in use, six using mechanical power. There are no underground bakehouses. (See Appendix).

Dairies, Cowsheds and Milkshops.

Two new premises were registered during the year. At one shop the sale of milk has ceased. 114 visits have been paid to the 37 registered premises.


Pigkeeping has greatly diminished in this district during the last few years. These premises are regulated by a model set of byelaws which are strictly enforced. 190 visits were made.

Marine Stores.

There are only two marine stores in the district. To these 76 visits were paid. No complaint has been made respecting them.

Food Inspection.

In addition to the inspection of animals and meat carcases being prepared for food at the slaughterhouses, 381 visits were paid to butchers’ shops, fishshops and other places where food is sold. Four pigs’ heads, 26 stone of fish and a sack of winkles were destroyed after examination and surrender.

The necessary disinfection has been carried out at 184 premises after removal or recovery of cases of infectious disease. 4,232 articles of bedding and clothing have been removed to the steam disinfector at the Wandle Valley Joint Isolation Hospital.


As Inspector under the Shops Acts, 1913 to 1921,1 have kept a large number of observations on shopkeepers, especially confectioners and mixed trades. Most activity was in connection with complaint^ 33 as to the irregular closing of shops on Sundays. Printed and verbal warnings were given the tradesmen most concerned throughout the district.


As Inspector under the Petroleum Acts I periodically visit the 45 licensed premises for the storage of petroleum spirit and carbide of calcium, of which four were newly licensed during the year. The total amount of spirit permitted to be kept is 28,078 gallons. Several underground storage systems have been installed during the year ; others are considering the adoption of the system, which is to be encouraged.

I am,

Your obedient servant,

Charles G. Rabbetts,

Senior Sanitary Inspector.

1909 Pig Slaughtering in Miles Lane

From the minutes of the Mitcham Parish Council of 25th January 1909

The following letter from the Clerk to the Croydon Rural District Council was read :—


Dear Sir,


I am directed to forward the subjoined copy of a resolution passed by the District Council at their last meeting, and to ask that you will bring the same before the Parrish Council.

Yours truly,

R. M. CHART, Esq., Clerk of the Mitcham Parish Council.

” The Medical Officer reported that in the course of Mr. Rabbetts’ inspection of the Piggeries on the Mitcham Allotments he found two pigs had recently been slaughtered and dressed in a shed belonging to Mr. William Sayers, who resides at 1, Clifton Cottages, Miles Lane, Mitcham. The shed was constructed of wood with concrete floor, and had a copper in it for heating water, which was obtained from a surface well close to the Piggeries. Mr. Rabbetts cautioned Mr. Sayers against using this shed as a slaughterhouse a few months ago, when he found that a pig had been slaughtered there. The Committee directed the attention of the Mitcham Parish Council be called to the circumstances, with a view to the prohibition by them of a continuation of this practice.”

1) Miles Lane, now called Miles Road, is shown in this map of 1910

1910 map

1910 map

2) Before 1915, Mitcham was part of the Croydon Rural District Council.

Minutes of meetings held by the Mitcham Parish Council are available on request from the Merton Heritage and Local Studies Centre at Morden Library.

Maps are reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.