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Mr: H. Williams. mud so firmly, that the boatmen had much trouble in extricating him. The drag
had to be fixed securely in his clothes, and by turning the boat sharply round, he 19 March 1860. was screwed out, cork-screw fashion, from the mud. Another, in jumping from
the bridge, unseen by any one, stuck fast up to the calves of his legs, and there remained six weeks before he was discovered.
2935. What was the depth of the water :—It is about six feet and a half when the Serpentine is full.
2936. And what is the depth of the mud ?-It was something like from three to four feet.
2937. Can you state the number of skaters that resort to the Serpentine ?The number varies considerably; we have sometimes as many as 50,000 in a day on the Serpentine alone ; in fact it is crowded like a fair, and there is scarcely room for skating:
2938. How did you arrive at the number of 50,000 ?-We calculate to the best of our judgment.
2939. Have you formed any estimate of the annual number of the skaters ? I have an approximate estinate of that; in the Serpentine alone there were 968,000 in the last 16 years, making an average of 60,500 annually.
2940. That includes both above and below the bridge ?--- No, the Serpentine alone; not the long water. In the Long Water there were 320,000 in 16 years.
2491. What number of deaths have occurred among those skaters ? — We have had on the Serpentine three deaths in 16 years; two of them occurred this winter, one was drowned from venturing on the ice at eight o'clock at night after all the icemen had been dismissed; three or four young men from the city were together, the ice gave way, and all were immersed; three were rescued, the other was drowned, and he was not recovered till the next morning. In the Long Water we have had no deaths at all. In the Regent's Park, we have had one death in 16 years, and thạt was early in the morning before the icemen went on duty. In St. James's Park we have had to deaths. The number of skaters rescued in all the Parks is 1,595 in 16 years; many of them dangerous cases.
2492. In what period of time ?-In 16 years.
2943. What proportion of those have occurred since the lake was made shallow ? None whatever; we have had a vast number of accidents since the alteration ; 50 boys have broken through the ice in one day; but the only inconvenience they suffered was a wetting.
2944. Has there been such a case in St. James's Park as a person getting his head under the ice? - During the skating this year, many idle persons being aware that the water in this park was not of a dangerous depth, amused themselves by throwing halfpence and oranges on the ice, which was not sufficiently strong to bear, for the fun of seeing little boys break through, when one little fellow was nearly drowned, though he did not get under the ice.
2945. Has any check been put to that dangerous amusement ?–Mr. Young, the Secretary to our Institution, applied to Scotland-yard to have some policemen placed in the park to stop it, but I believe it is out of their jurisdiction, it being the duty of the park-keepers employed in the inclosure.
2946. Was it on an occasion of this sort that a little boy was drowned ?-No; the boy was not drowned ; he was taken into the tent much exhausted; a couple of oranges, and a pocketful of halfpence, were found on hirn, the reward of his temerity.
2947. Can you state the utmost depth of the St. James's Park lake ? – The greatest depth, I believe is 4 feet 9 inches; but that only comprises a very small area, where the outlet pipe is situated ; I think it averages from about 2 feet 9 inches at the Buckingham Palace end to 4 feet 9 inches at the Horse Guards end.
Jovis, 22° die Martii, 1860.
Lord John Manners.
The Right Hon. WILLIAM COWPER, IN THE CHAIR.
Mr. Herbert Williams called in, and Examined.
2948. Mr. Walter.] YOU said, I believe, that you considered there would be Mr. H. Williams. no objection to going as deep as seven or eight feet in the middle of the lake; as far as the safety of bathers was concerned, you thought that desirable ?-Yes. 22 March 1860.
2949. If it were made shallow at the sides for children, and persons who could not swim, that would answer the requirements of the public :- I think so.
2950. And there would be no difficulty in putting up boards in different parts of the lake to indicate the various depths, so that people could take care of themselves ? That would be a very excellent plan.
2951. Sir Joseph Paxton.] How would that answer for the skaters ?— It would answer equally well for skaters as for bathers.
29.52. Have you perceived any difference in the last tive years in the smell of the Serpentine ? -Since the lime was put in the water, the year before last, there has been a very considerable difference, both in the appearance of the water and in the smell. I consider, however, this effect is but temporary.
2953. But previously to that how was it?—Previously to that it used to be very bad indeed,
2954. For how many years past?-I should say 12 or 14 years past; since the number of houses has so increased on the north side of the park; of course that added greatly to the sewage matter, which found its way into the Serpentine year after year, and rendered the water still more offensive.
2955. Mr. Walter.! Have you any knowledge of the extent to which Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are drained at present, and the quantity of water obtained from the drainage of the land ?-No, I have not.
2956. Sir Joseph Paxton.] Have you observed in the ice at any time, on the surface, any particular soft places, that is, where there are springs ?-No; it usually freezes all over, excepting where the wind has an effect on the surface of the water, and prevents the ice from forming; I do not think the springs are sufficiently powerful to affect the formation of ice.
2957. Lord John Manners.] You stated that the condition of the water since the introduction of lime into it, has considerably changed —Yes.
2958. Do you mean that it has been improved or deteriorated :—Very much improved in appearance; as to the chymical quality of the water, I cannot speak.
2959. Can you speak as to the change in the smell which the water emits The smell is very greatly diminished ; in fact, it is scarcely perceptible in passing the Serpentine at the present time.
2960. Chairman.] Do you think if the water were purer, that the number of bathers would be greatly increased ?-Very much indeed.
2961. Have you any means of estimating the increase that would take place if the water were better?-No, I have not.
2962, Mr. Walter.] Are you aware that, not many years ago, it was not uncommon for people of the higher classes to bathe in the Serpentine ?-Yes; I am quite aware of that. 2963. But it is not the case now :-No.
George Woolley, Esq., M. D., called in ; and Examined.
G. Woolley, Esq.
22 March 1860.
2964. Chairman.] WHAT opportunities have you had of gaining experience with regard to the Serpentine ?-1 was for 32 years honorary surgeon and principal medical officer there; I had to devise all the modes of treatment; I was a member of the committee during many of those years ; and I was, in fact, a kind of medical director at the Serpentine.
2965. What is your opinion as to the state of the water of the Serpentine ?At the time I left the Serpentine, from ill heath, at Christmas 1853, and before that time, the water had become exceedingly bad in the summer; it was green and thick, very much resembling green pea soup, which was a name I gave to it; it was also very offensive, and I believe the gases of it were deleterious to health. One of our boatmen (the Committee, perhaps, are aware that the boatmen go out during the hours of bathing, to rescue people if anything should happen), named Bull, twice fell back over the thwart of his boat with symptoms of cholera, and was brought into the receiving-house. I directed after that time that the men should all smoke tobacco while they were out upon duty. There can be no doubt about the odour, or about, I think, the deleteriousness of the gases. I used to think that every spring there was a large crop of vegetation at the bottom of the Serpentine, which became dislocated and mechanically mixed with the water in course of time, and when the water was hot, fermentation took place, and gases were extricated which were both deleterious to the health and nauseous.
2966. Did you attribute that bad state of the water to the mud at the bottom of the Serpentine?--I believe that the surface of the mud originated this vegetation, and that it had very much to do with that state of the water ; but then sewage passed into the Serpentine from the Bayswater sewer, and it was impossible of course to have the water clean or pure while that sewage came in,. Then, all stagnant water undergoes chemical action, and emits deleterious gas.
2967. Then you would lead the Committee to suppose that the disagreeable state of the water arose partly from the state of the mud at the bottom, partly from the water being stagnant, and partly froin the influence of sewage on the occasions of overflow ?-İ meant to have spoken of the mud. I said that the surface and mud when thick enough would be covered with this vegetation ; but no doubt the mud had a great deal to do with the state of the water, and the fermentation that took place, and the chemical action that went on.
2968. Have cases of drowned persons come under your personal management ? -All of them ; I used to be sent for to all the cases.
2969. Did you perceive, in those instances, any marked results arising from the chemical quality of the water or of the mud ?-I do not believe that the chemical quality of the water (I do not know) would have much effect. I think that it could only injure by passing through the skin; no water gets into the air passages until a person is dead. Whenever the water comes in contact with the epiglottis, which closes the top of the windpipe, there is a firm closure, and nothing can get into it, or pass out of it, except air.
2970. But what do you say with regard to the mud ?—That would not pass into the trachea until the person was dead.
2971. Have not persons been rescued from drowning, and yet have been so injured by the mud entering into their air passages, that they have afterwards died ?—The mud fills the passages to the trachea, the nose, and the throat, but I have no doubt at all that until death takes place, none can get into the windpipe ; no water, and no mud.
you believe that the mud contains any chemical qualities which would injure a person whose mouth and nose were stopped up with it, although that person was not drowned ?—It would increase the difficulty in saving the life of a person, because there would be time lost in clearing the passages before the proper means could have an effect; but I think there is no way of bad water injuring life except it can make its way through the skin.
2973. Do they not swallow a great deal of this mud and of the water ?Yes ; they often swallow the water.
2974. Would not that injure them by absorption through the stomach ?—I do not think so, supposing they are taken out time enough to be saved. If the
stomach was filled with water, we should apply the stomach pump to remove it; G. Il oulley, Esq. but I do not think that much evil is done by water in that way.
I never could bring my mind to believe that it was so. 2975. Have you known persons killed by falling into the mud, who might have
22 March 1860. been saved if the bottom had been hard? Yes. I used to write an account in a book of every case after it had bappened, and I had access to that book the other day, and I read of several cases that I had inserted myself, where individuals had been lost by falling into the mud; and I have seen it with my own eyes.
2976. Will you state to the Committee how it was, in those cases, that the mud caused them to die? — They stuck in the mud, and they could not be extricated. Sometimes, when the mud was very soft, it was difficult to get them out; there is a large gravel pit midway between the head of the Serpentine and the Royal Humane Society's Receiving House. I remember that I saw a very
young man, three men were dragging for him, and he was taken up on the drag, and there was very great difficulty in getting him out, for he slipped off again. I sent an account of that case, a day or two after I had gone with a deputation to Lord John Manners, to his Lordship, and I then particularly mentioned, with the deputation, this gravel pit, and how dangero!is it was; the pits and the holes are very dangerous, and the mud.
2977. Have the waters of the Serpentine become better or worse since you first recollect them ?-I understand that the water is better ; I have not had the pleasure of seeing it, but I understand that lime has been thrown into it, and tbat the water is better since the lime was thrown in.
2978. You have not had much experience of the water since 1853; but will you be good enough to state whether, in carrying your memory back to the time when you first knew it, it was better or worse than it was in 1853 ?-It was better; I heard an observation made just now that was a very correct one, that persons of higher grades in society than those who bathe in the Serpentine now used to bathe there formerly, but when afterwards the water became deteriorated they discontinued it; that was chiefly on account of the badness of the water.
2979. Do you think that if the water were made more pure there would be a very great increase in the number of the bathers ?- I think there would, and I should think that a great calamity, for there would be an unnecessary increase of loss of life ; until the bottom of the Serpentine is put into a proper state, and until it is made a safe bath, I think that any purification of the water would only do a great deal of mischief.
2980. What arrangement of the bottom would you recommend with a view to safety of life to the bathers ?—I do not think I am competent to give an opinion ; I have not thought much upon the subject; I have had quite enough to do in thinking of the important matter of resuscitation, and so on; I do not think that I am competent to give advice upon the subject, or that I could offer an opinion
2981. Would it be a good arrangement to have the banks of the Serpentine so shallow that a child could not be drowned, and then to increase the depth gradually, until in the centre of the river the depth was about six feet ?- That is what I have always thought, but I did not think that my opinion was worth mentioning
2982. Have you observed that the health of persons who live much upon the banks of the Serpentine has suffered ?-I have not.
2983. Has there been such a number of persons living there as to enable you to come to any conclusion upon that subject :-Yes; there are a good many persons living there, and I never observed that the health was affected; when the mud was taken up, after the Serpentine was cleansed once, I recollect particularly that the mud was placed on the banks, and I expected to see mischief arise from it, but none did; the mud was dried there, and I did not hear that any one of the men who were occupied in removing that mud was in any way injured
2984. At what time of the year did that take place ?-I forget, but I think it was while Lord Carlisle was Chief Cominissioner.
2985. Was it in the summer or in the winter?-I really do not know.
2486. Have you observed any marked results on the cccasions of foods when the overflow of the Ranelagh sewer came into the water ?--Never.
Mr. John Braithwaite called in ; and Examined.
Mr. J. Braithwaite. 2987. Sir John Shelley.] YOU are a Civil Engineer ?_Yes.
2988. You have had, I believe, great experience with regard to the wells in the 22 March 1860. ' metropolis ? - Very great indeed for many years.
2989. Can you give the Committee any opinion as to the quantity of water in the gravel stratum under Westminiter?-I should say that it was an unlimited supply, taking Westminster and the vicinity.
2990. You are aware that that gravel stratum extends a long way ?-It is spread over a very large area indeed.
2991. Can you give the Committee any instances of the water which your own experience tells you can be brought from the gravel ?—The late experiments would prove that. In my own experience, I attempted to sink a well at Charing-cross at the Union club house, that is in Pall-mall, or rather in Cockspur-street, and the amount of water there was such that there was no power that we could employ that would enable us to sink the well. If I had placed a 100 horse-engine there Í should not have exhausted the supply, in consequence of the very large supply from the upper country, which all sweeps round towards the Thames, and eventually discharges itself into the Thames; in that instance I removed from the gravel soil at the club-house in Cockspur-street and went back into Trafalgarsquare, where the dip was so great that I began to sink into the blue clay, the extraordinary quantity of water was quite equal to the supply in a well at Greenwich which I sank for the Government, where it was also inexhaustible, and we were obliged to sink iron cylinders through the gravel, with the water in it, by means of a miser (a sort of conical gimlet) to take the gravel out.
2992. What was the depth of that well in Cockspur-street ?—Only 14 feet. 2993
Did you get into the same stratum of gravel that the well in Duck Island is in ?-Not a doubt about it; and no doubt the same stratum, connecting with the other, which Mr. Fowler mentioned, the same gravel. We found it when I sunk Messrs. Combe's well many years ago, and several wells about; and
go where you will, I do not know of any instance where I escaped the gravel. 2994. After the evidence which has been given before this Committee with regard to the quantity of water in this gravel-bed, the ground from Cockspurstreet falling down towards the Thames, the St. James's Park well would naturally have more water flowing into it than the one in Cockspur-street ? - Yes; the water is only headed back by the Thames; it has a direct communication with the Thames, and is influenced by the Thames, and if they were to pump long enough they would pump up Thames water.
2995. Do you think that what Mr. Easton and other witnesses stated, also Mr. Fowler, was correct; that supposing it were possible to completely pump out from this enormous bed of gravel all the water in it, that the vacuum would be filled with the Thames water - Not a doubt about it.
2996. The Thames water would pass through the strata ?—Yes; the gravel being the best natural filter-bed in the world, mechanically.
2997. Then that water, having so passed through that gravel, would, by nature, be produced in the same state that any artificial filter-bed would produce it?Precisely as we drink it now, as coming from water companies; the water companies adopt the same method ; it is mere mechanical filtration. I am not aware that any of them deal with the water chemically.
2998. Have you made yourself acquainted with the well at Duck Island ?I have been called in lately to look at it; I have seen it; I have not only tested some of the experiments, but I have heard of others, and that is quite sufficient to convince nie that you might command any quantity of water that you pleased by extending the area.
2999. Do you agree in the opinion of Mr. Fowler, that by extending the adits, and consequently the feeding bed for the well, any quantity of water might be obtained ?- I think you might obtain four or five millions of gallons.
3000. As to the present extent of these adits, is it your opinion that something like 1,000,000 of gallons of water in 24 hours could be pumped out of that well? -Two millions of gallons, no doubt of it.
3001. Do you think that the result of pumping, say 1,000,000 of gallons a day, for a month, would practically have any effect in the way of exhausting the supply of water in that gravel ? -None whatever.