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‘I should have thought that Wales was a wet part of the world’: Drought, rural communities and public health, 1870-1914

Waddington, Keir ORCID: 2017. ‘I should have thought that Wales was a wet part of the world’: Drought, rural communities and public health, 1870-1914. Social History of Medicine 30 (3) , pp. 590-611. 10.1093/shm/hkw118

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From 1884 onwards, Britain experienced a series of major droughts, which reached their peak in the ‘Long Drought’ (1890-1909). Despite being imagined as a wet part of the world, rural Wales was hard hit as many communities did not have access to reliable water supplies. As medical officers of health and newspapers talked about water famines, alarm focused on questions of purity and disease as drought was presented as a serious health risk. Using rural Wales as a case study, this essay explores vulnerabilities to water scarcity during periods of drought to examine the material and socio-political impact of water scarcity and the resulting public health problems faced in rural areas. In addressing how droughts in rural communities were physical and social phenomena that generated considerable alarm about infectious disease, this essay also reveals how periods of water scarcity were an important determinant in improvements to rural water provision.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Uncontrolled Keywords: drought, public health, rural, Wales, water supply
Additional Information: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher: Oxford University Press (OUP)
ISSN: 0951-631X
Funders: Wellcome Trust
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 19 October 2016
Date of Acceptance: 13 October 2016
Last Modified: 04 May 2023 20:51

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