Portsmouth was: ‘one huge cesspool’

Demolition of White's Row, Portsea, in 1910.
Demolition of White's Row, Portsea, in 1910.
Portsmouth city centre around 1992

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Demolition of White’s Row, Portsea, in 1910.

In 1850 government inspector Robert Rawlinson described Portsmouth as ‘one huge cesspool’, adding: ‘Soldiers’ wives and families inhabit one of the most wretched, crowded and unhealthy quarters of the town. The usual haunts of the sailor when on shore are dens so vile...language cannot describe them.’