Dark Satanic Mills:

Beveridge's "Five Giant Evils"

By Peter Daniel

In 1942, in the darkest hours of World War 2, politician William Beveridge laid out a plan that would become the blue print of the Welfare State. He identified “Five Giant Evils” in society: squalor, ignorance, want, idleness, and disease. Beveridge argued that all five giants need to be confronted through a Welfare State that would protect its citizens from cradle to grave.We followed the story of one local man, Joe Seaby to see how these ‘evils’ impacted upon him and his family in the years preceding the creation of the N.H.S. in 1948.

Ignorance

Joe Seaby was born into a family of costermongers (barrow boys) in 1911. Both of his parents were illiterate, his mother being unable to sign her name on his birth certificate. His brothers left school at 12, as this was the school leaving age at the turn of the century.

Squalor

Charles Booth’s poverty map of London highlighted that 30% of Londoners lived in poverty. Joe’s birthplace came under the poorest category: ‘semi vicious criminals.’ Booth’s conclusions are supported by the 1911 Census and Fulham rate book, which show twelve members of the Seaby family squeezed into just two rooms.

Disease

Joe married Florence ‘Dibs’ Brill in 1938. She had been born in the Chelsea Workhouse in 1917 after her mother had become homeless following the death of her husband in WW1. Both Dibs aunt and grandmother died in childbirth which was commonplace before the creation of the NHS due to the lack of access to hospital care.

Dibs herself contracted T.B. in 1928 and was treated at the Victoria Hospital for Children. T.B., alongside measles , mumps and scarlet fever killed thousands of children in the years before the creation of the NHS.

Idleness

Georgie Seaby was wounded at the Battle of the Somme and returned home with a silver plate fitted to his skull. He returned to his life as a coster selling flowers, but Ill health forced him to endure long periods when he was unable to work.

Army medicals undertaken in WW1 uncovered the terrible health of the nation. Regular food and exercise helped Joe’s oldest brother, Arthur, put on a growth spurt from when he joined the army in 1913, until he was killed in action on 31st October, 1914.

Richard Seaby was killed in 1917 and left behind a young widow Bertha and an 11 month old son. Her compensation was littlemore than £4 and she struggled to make ends meet.

 

 

Photo:Beveridge's Five Giants

Beveridge's Five Giants

Royal College of Nursing

Photo:Nora Seaby like many poor Londoners in the 19th century was illiterate

Nora Seaby like many poor Londoners in the 19th century was illiterate

GRO

Photo:Fulham Rate Book for Walham Grove SW6  1912

Fulham Rate Book for Walham Grove SW6 1912

Hammersmith and Fulham Archives

Photo:1911 Census Walham Grove Fulham SW6

1911 Census Walham Grove Fulham SW6

National Archives

Photo:Charles Booth Poverty map for Fulham 1886

Charles Booth Poverty map for Fulham 1886

Westmisnter Archives

Photo:Florence "Dibs" Seaby

Florence "Dibs" Seaby

Lucy Robjohns

Photo:Joe Seaby

Joe Seaby

Lucy Robjohns

Photo:Pte Arthur Seaby Queen's Bays KIA 31.10.14

Pte Arthur Seaby Queen's Bays KIA 31.10.14

Peter Daniel

Photo:Arthur Seaby's medical shows the impact of army food

Arthur Seaby's medical shows the impact of army food

National Archives

Photo:Pte Georgie Seaby 1918

Pte Georgie Seaby 1918

Peter Daniel

Photo:Pte Richard Seaby KIA 3.12.17

Pte Richard Seaby KIA 3.12.17

Peter Daniel

This page was added by Peter Daniel on 11/01/2019.

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