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Monday 9th December 2019  

The Quorn Smells Poster - November 1889

Poster printed by William Edward Basil Farnham. Making light of what was in effect a serious problem at the time. Earlier on in the year, Quorn had suffered serious outbreaks of diphtheria and typhoid fever due to the unsanitary conditions of some households.

One of the chief functions of the Local Board was to organise the collection and disposal of sewerage. They appointed "nightsoil men" whose unpleasant job it was to collect sewage pans from every house each week. The sewerage was then deposited on fields away from the village towards Barrow-on-Soar.

Houses had no piped water and depended on backyard pumps. Some had their own well which could easily become polluted by floods or mismanagement which backwashed effluent from the brook. The brook was usually a source of infection and pollution because the locals deposited rubbish in it and factories and mills emptied the residue from the dye-houses into it and cattle wandered freely in the shallow parts.

The verse reads:

When good Queen Victoria came to the throne
Very little of "Germs" and "Bacilli" was known,
And a cess-pool was lurking 'neath every stone,
Oh! Ho! The old smell found in Quorndon,
Great Heavens, the Quorndon old smells!

But what did it matter? They ate, drank, and died:
And the hatchments were hoisted with family pride,
As the outward result of the plague-spot inside,
Of the bottled up smells of old Quorndon,
Of those petrified smells of old Quorn.

Times are changed, now to-day who knows of the pains
The Local Board go to, on dust heaps and drains,
Yet that very same flavouring somehow remains,
And we still have the Quorndon old smells.

There is Fewkes, Black and Horspool (most eminent firms)
Who will drain us, and trap us, on "iligent" terms,
And secure each a right to his own household "Germs",
And a sniff of poor Quorndon's new drains.

But this is all humbug; as Skipworth* foretells,
Though He calls it "Miasma" they've still the old Smells,
We'll sweeten in future our sewers and wells,
And banish the smells of old Quorndon,
And start some less virulent smells.

Our President's back up, our Clerk's in the know,
Our Members are waking, they've slept as times go,
Our trusty Surveyor is thirsting to show
How he'll turn into lilies Quorn drains.

So let's pull together, and jointly we'll buy
A truly superior water supply,
That our friends, and our neighbours, may live and not die,
Of the poisonous stinks of our Quorndon,
Which in future we'll only call Quorn


A parody by W.E.B.F., with his best wishes for the success of their efforts to the members of the Quorndon Local Board - November, 1889

* Dr Skipworth was the Medical Officer of Health

 Submitted on: 2009-08-31
 Submitted by: Kathryn Paterson
 Artefact ID: 513

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