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Sanitation in Shefford

The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 created poor law unions, each run by a Board of Guardians, centred around towns, which included a union workhouse for the poor of the union area. The union was also responsible for other matters, such as public health. Wrestlingworth was in the Biggleswade Union. The Biggleswade Poor Law Union minute book of 1868 to 1871 ends with a description of the sanitary conditions of the major settlements in the area, including Shefford for 3rd May 1871 [PUBwM10 ]. The entry for Shefford is below.

"Shefford is well drained for surface water, but the drainage ends in a ditch which is filthy and a great nuisance, especially in summer; it is also near to some houses; fortunately it is flushed once a day from the river, which is banked up by the mill-dams. The houses are not crowded together except in one Court, and there has been scarcely any fever there, although it is so near to Meppershall[!]"

In 1875 sanitation ceased to be a function of the poor law unions and was transferred to sanitary authorities, in Shefford’s case Biggleswade Rural Sanitary Authority. These were replaced in 1894 by the newly created district councils, in Shefford's case, Biggleswade Rural District Council. This was replaced in 1974 by Mid Bedfordshire District Council and in 2009 the new unitary council (incorporating the functions of the former district councils with the abolished county council) of Central Bedfordshire became responsible for all sanitary matters.