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Colonial Sanitation, Urban Planning and Social Reform in Sydney, New South Wales 1788 - 1857

ANNA WONG
Australasian Historical Archaeology
Vol. 17 (1999), pp. 58-69
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/29544431
Page Count: 12
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Colonial Sanitation, Urban Planning and Social Reform in Sydney, New South Wales 1788 - 1857
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Abstract

Issues relating to water, drainage and sewerage dominated the development of Sydney, during the first century of European settlement, yet archaeological evidence relating to these areas is rarely interpreted within its proper historical context. During the nineteenth century, crime, violence and poverty were often linked to environmental conditions. Many social reformers blamed poor sanitation for 'social evils'. Using technical, historical and archaeological evidence of drainage and sewerage systems, this paper examines the transfer and adoption of technological information, the historical context of sanitation reform and living conditions in Sydney and the application and adaptation of techniques and their impact on social reform for the period 1788 to 1857. Discussions of the social conditions of nineteenth-century Sydney are often influenced by images of working-class slums. Despite the poor living conditions, the engineering capabilities in Sydney were comparable to European cities. This study indicates that the colonial Governement in NSW was undertaking proper town planning measures before such initiatives were recognised by the British government. The seemingly insignificant subject of colonial sanitation has the potential to reveal a myriad of issues related to the social, technical and historical development of New South Wales.

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