Sunday, 1 March 2015

Camp Bay Quarantine Ground - A Healthy Spot?

Dr Donald, the health officer at Lyttelton in 1863, thought that Camp Bay was a healthy spot for immigrants but this turned out to be completely wrong as the site was exposed to the cold easterly winds and was a horrible place to live.  It was more conducive to ill health than regaining ones health.   It also was not quite "out of the way of mischief," as he mentioned below.  When the ship Brother's Pride arrived in late 1863 the quarantined passengers became so bored they ran over the hill and stole crates of booze that had been delivered to a neighbouring farm.  Naughty!

Check out my other posts on Camp Bay Quarantine site by searching on the right hand side of my blog.

The Lyttelton Times. WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29, 1863. Various causes have been assigned, in different quarters, for the prevalence of low fever in Christchurch during the autumn that is now coming to a close. Most people are however agreed that a considerable share of the illness which has prevailed is to be attributed to the want of due precautions in the introduction of immigrants after a long voyage. Persons have in a few cases been allowed to land and go at once to Christchurch, with fever still hanging about them while all the immigrants have been allowed as they liked to carry off with them, unwashed, to any part of the country to which they were bound, the linen and clothes used during the voyage. Now, putting the fever cases out of the question, it is evident that the importation by every immigrant ship of a mass of foul clothes into a town still undrained, and rapidly increasing in population, is of itself quite sufficient cause for the aggravation of any illness that may be prevalent. The population of Christchurch will probably double in the next few years the immigration will double too; our precautions against the increase of fever and other illness must be more than doubled, seeing that what precautions are now taken have but little effect in the way of checking the mischief. We believe that the Town Council of Christchurch are considering the questions of drainage and water supply. If they are not, they ought to be considering them for the grants of the Provincial Council to promote street making and surface drainage were passed with the understanding that the town would take the more important business in hand without delay. But while the Town Corporation are attending to what is strictly their duty, we must turn to the Provincial Government to draw their attention to the urgent necessity of regulating with more method the monthly introduction of closely packed immigrants after a long voyage. Some time ago we urged the advisability of placing the management of our immigration, so far as relates to shipping, in the hands of her Majesty's Commissioners, leaving to our own agent iu London the task of selecting the immigrants and collecting them at the port of embarkation. These duties together with the equally important ones of giving information concerning the colony to persons visiting the office at Charing Cross, and of answering the innumerable letters addressed to the agent, are more than sufficient to occupy his time. As it is now he is over-worked and obliged at the same time to neglect much that might be attended to with advantage. We have not a staff sufficient in London to manage efficiently the whole business of sending out emigrants; and in the shipping department we suffer especially. If it were not for the ability and zeal shown by Mr. Marshman, the heavy increase to our immigration began last year would have made the deficiencies in our system very apparent. Still there are defects in our shipping arrangements which no agent can remove, and which have induced both Mr. Fitz Gerald and Mr. Marshman to recommend the transfer of this portion of our immigration business to the Emigration Board. "We have already enumerated the principal advantages to be gained by such a transfer, and the better chance the immigrants would have of health and comfort on board ships chartered by the Commissioners and under the charge of their officers. There is one detail in their system of administration, the want of which in ours has of late been especially brought under our notice. At the depots in England where Government emigrants are collected before they embark, an officer is appointed whose duty it is to examine the outfits of the intending passengers and to see that each person has a sufficient stock of linen and other clothes. "Without a sufficient supply, no one is allowed to embark. This is a most necessary precaution, and it may be certainly set down that a great share of the illness on board the emigrant ships arriving here is due to the very scanty supply of clothing with which too many people are allowed to sail for the colony. Want of warm clothing in the cold weather, and above all want of a sufficient supply of linen and under-clothing are sufficient to bring on all the illness we ever hear of in these ships at sea. As soon as an immigrant ship arrives in Lyttelton harbour, strict measures should be taken to prevent all unnecessary communication with the shore until all danger of importing fever is removed. In no shape can it be more conveniently imported than in that of dirty clothes and bedding. It has been suggested by some that the dirty clothes used on the voyage should be burned. But this would be a costly and wasteful system, besides being probably ineffectual. Such a regulation as this would be most certainly evaded. A far better plan, which would effectually remove all such danger as can be provided against, has, we believe been suggested by Dr. Donald, the health officer in Lyttelton. There is a reserve at Camp Bay, an isolated spot with plenty of good running water, for a quarantine ground. It is proposed to build Immigration Barracks there, with every accommodation for washing on a large scale, and to enforce a week's quarantine on the passengers of every immigrant ship. In this time they might recruit after the voyage, wash and air their clothes and blankets, and then be transported without any danger directly to Christchurch, or any other locality to which they may be destined. The buildings used as barracks at Lyttelton I will not be available much longer; and as barracks must be built somewhere on the harbour, it would be a good plan to make the buildings erected do duty as quarantine quarters and washing establishment. Camp Bay is a healthy spot —out of the way of mischief—and offers great facilities for carrying out so useful a system of quarantine. The plan is well worthy of the attention of the Government.

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