Report of 1858
The camp at Shorncliffe occupies a plateau about 220 feet above the level of the sea, and overlooking it at 1000 yards distant.
It covers an area of about 120 acres. The soil consists of sandy loam. It has every natural facility for drainage, and is completely isolated from civil population. The site is exposed freely to the sea breeze and is a very healthy one.
The huts are arranged in double lines enclosing an extensive parade ground in the centre. They are separated a sufficient distance from each other to allow a free circulation of air and the general arrangement of the camp is very good, so far as it is calculated to secure the health of the troops.
The surface drainage of the ground about the huts is effected by main drains carried along between the lines of huts, with trapped gullies at intervals, and all the drainage is finally conducted to the sea, without passing under any of buildings of huts in camp.
Water used formally to be obtained from superficial wells, but the whole of the camp is now supplied from the main of the Folkestone Water Works, as, however, the level is not sufficiently high, the water from the main is thrown up by an 8-horse power steam engine to a further height of 150 feet into a tank capable of holding 45,000 gallons, from whence the water is distributed by pipes to the camp and Hospital. The arrangements for water supply appear to be good, but the quantity available is states to be no more than sufficient for present purposes, sot hat there would be little or none to spare for water latrines or for flushing sewers.
There are 192 soldiers’ huts with regulation accommodation for twenty-five men in each, or for 4,800 men in all. At the time of out inquiry, the average number of men in the Infantry huts was twenty-two, and in those of the Royal Artillery twenty.
Each hut is 38 feet 10 inches long, 20 feet broad, and 11 feet high to the ridge. The cubic contents of each hit are 8,360 feet, giving 334 cubic feet for each of the twenty-five inmates, and 380 cubic feet for the present number, which is twenty-two.
Each hut has ten windows, two fanlights, and two doors. There is a louvred ventilator at each end, and three ventilators in the ridge of each hut.
Those provisions for light and ventilation, along with the pervious nature of the wooden walls of the huts, ought in out opinion, to be sufficient to keep the air in the huts in a comparatively pure condition, even at night, if the regulation number of inmates be somewhat reduced, and if the ventilators are properly made use of and not interfered with by the men.
We are further of opinion that for the same reasons, and also on account of the excellent principle exemplified in hut barracks, of dividing the men into a number of detached buildings, with a small number of men in each, it is not necessary, so far as health is concerned, to set apart 600 cubic feet per man as must be done in permanent barracks.
The principle of subdividing the force among no fewer than 192 separate barracks, so to speak, with air freely playing round them, and ample means of ventilation, makes 400 cubic feet per man of as great value in preserving health as 600 cubic feet has in a large permanent barrack.
Twenty-five men per hut are, however, too many. The present number, twenty-two men per hut, is better, but we would prefer that the cubic space at present allotted to the Royal artillery, who have twenty men per hut, should be adopted as the limit of accommodation for all the huts in camp.
There are five Serjeant-Majors’ quarters, consisting each of room, closet, and kitchen; five Quartermaster-Sergeants. Quarters with two rooms to each, and twenty Staff-Sergeant's’ quarters, two of which are in a room.
The Staff-Sergeants’ quarters are not sufficient considering the position of these officers.
There are eighty married quarters, but the proportion is below the number allowed for such a force. It would be advisable to increase this accommodation if practicable. At present, no fewer than six separate families are lodged together in a single hut, an arrangement at variance both with health and decency.
The soldiers’ huts are warmed by stoves, which are stated to be dangerous, and to require constant repairs. For permanent use, fireplaces would be more economical and healthy as well as safer.
The latrines and urinals are both in the same building. The former consist of iron tanks in which the soil is deodorized, and removed nightly by the “Cyanic Manure Company.” There was some smell in the building when we inspected it, but it was partly owing to the position of the urinals.
In our opinion it would be advantageous to remove these urinals outside the latrines, and to give them the advantage of free circulation of air, which would greatly lessen the effluvia from them.
It would be a better arrangement altogether to substitute water latrines, with flushing arrangements; but it is doubtful whether there would be a sufficient supply of water for the purpose, while, if due care be used in deodorizing and removing the soil regularly, we do not think that in so open and airy location a locality any injury to health is likely to arise from the present arrangements.
The nuisance, such as it is, may be materially diminished by removing the urinals as already recommended.
There are twenty cook-houses, four in each range.
The kitchen arrangements are undergoing improvements. Two new forms of cooking range, those of Captain Lempriere and Captain Grant, have been introduced, and are on trial. Both ranges contain baking ovens, in addition to the customary boilers. We shall delay expressing any opinion on these cooking ranges, until sufficient time has elapsed to admit of their being fully tried.
To be continued...