The Buccleugh‑Health Of Towns‑Commission (1844)
The influx of workers to the towns placed an additional strain on the existing water supply systems and health services, and in most cases they were quite unable to meet the ever increasing demand. The problem became most acute and in 1844 a Royal Commission, The Buccleugh Commission, was appointed to enquire into the state of large towns and populous districts in England and Wales. The terms of reference included "The supply of water in such towns and districts whether for purposes of health or for the better protection of property from fire". Out of some 50 towns and districts to which the enquiries of the Commissioners extended, there were only six in which the water supply arrangements were in any sense good, in thirteen towns they were indifferent and in thirty‑one bad.
The Commissioners recommended that it should be rendered imperative on local administrative bodies "to procure sufficient supplies of water for all domestic, public and sanitary purposes; that water companies should be required to comply with the demands of local administrative bodies on equitable terms; that local administrative bodies should be empowered to purchase water works by agreement; that new companies should only be established on condition that the local administrative body might subsequently purchase the undertaking; that where pipes were laid down all houses capable of benefiting by them should be rated in the same way as for sewerage and other local purposes, the owners of small tenements being made liable for the rates; that for increasing the protection of property from fire, there should be a constant supply at high pressure".
The Buccleugh Commission obtained its information in part by a Questionnaire of sixty‑two questions to be completed and partly by personal inspection by Members of the Commission.
From the notes made by the Member of the Commission, R. A. Slaney, who visited this district and the completed Questionnaires returned by Committees of inhabitants of Burslem, Hanley, Longton and Newcastle, together with further information on the subject gleaned from other sources, a picture can be given of the conditions prevailing in the year 1844.