Cholera epidemic 1832 research guide

Cholera reached the UK in 1832 having travelled from Russia and across Europe. Known as ‘King Cholera’ it claimed over 50,000 lives, 402 of them in Sheffield.

The authorities struggled to cope with the outbreak. There was a system of carrying away those infected to the workhouse on Kelham Street, the upper floor of which was given over to a ‘recovery house’. Those that succumbed were at first buried in parish churchyards, but following complaints about bodies being carried through the streets on carts and having to live next to churchyards, it was decided to provide a hearse and a isolated burial ground at Clay Woods (near what is now Norfolk Park).

There is a good range of sources to study the epidemic in 1832, as well as those in 1849 and 1866. As well as telling the story in Sheffield, the sources provide a good case study of the relationship between the local authorities and the Central Board of Health in London and the ‘laissez faire’ attitude of the day.

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