Cholera and the Launceston Outbreak

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Information regarding Mr Hardy’s family and firm kindly supplied by Mr Michael Grundy, Worcester Evening News.

The disease Cholera appears to have begun in India, in 1817, when it spread very rapidly into the Middle East, and by 1830 had entered Europe. This often fatal disease entered Britain by way of Sunderland, and in the autumn of 1831, where the first death was recorded on October 26th, spreading very rapidly to Newcastle, where 41 deaths were reported by Christmas. News of this dreadful disease quickly reached Cornwall, where the Local Boards of Health set in place cry strict measures in port towns to try to prevent the spread of this, then practically unknown epidemic.
Launceston employed Mr George T Clark, Surveyor, Civil Engineer, from Penzance, to inspect the borough and to recommend a scheme to insert drains, sewers, piped water, footpaths in streets, and to generally rid all filth, cesspits, and other ‘nuisances’ from the town. Among Mr Clark’s recommendations were the paving of streets and footpaths, the introduction of lighting, and the building of a reservoir to supply the borough with fresh, clean water.

In the evening of the 15th September, 1849, a salesman arrived in Launceston by coach and a room in the White Hart Hotel, in Broad Street. Complaining of feeling unwell, the gentleman climbed to his room and put himself to bed, where he was found dead next morning by the chambermaid. Fearful of the effect of this new disease upon the population, the council quickly arranged for the removal of the body and it’s interment in the Bowling Green cemetery in Dockacre Lane, part of St Mary Magdalene Church burial grounds. A large headstone was ordered and ornate railings were placed on the granite surrounds of the grave. A further memorial was placed in the church in the shape of a tablet, or plaque, recording the awful event of 16th September, 1849.
The name of the unfortunate salesman was John Hardy, of the Worcester firm of Iron Founders, Hardy & Padmore, famous for it’s street lamps lining the London Embankment, with their dolphin supports, and the Regency style lamp columns on Worcester Bridge. Many European cities and towns purchased their street furniture from the pioneering foundry, both before and after the above sad event.
My Jon Hardy, then aged 39 years, was a nephew of one of the founders of the firm, Mr Robert Hardy, who, with his brother travelled from Scotland to Worcester, and set up a foundry in the St. Paul’s area of the city. Fifteen years later the Hardy brothers were joined by Richard Padmore, of Shropshire, who joined the firm as a partner.

Many of the Victorian and Edwardian features of this firm still grace streets in Britain and overseas. Around Worcester prime examples of Hardy & Padmore’s cast iron work are the Foregate Street GWR railway bridge, the fountain at Cripplegate Park, and the former Market Hall clock opposite the Guildhall. The early 1900’s saw the delivery of 500 large ornamented pillars to the St Marylebone Borough of London, and dozens of special columns for The Strand, London. Lamp standards were supplied to other major cities, such as Liverpool, Sheffield, Glasgow, Newcastle, Cardiff, Cheltenham, and Preston. Still to be found world-wide are manhole covers, drain grills, public lavatory fixtures, stoves, traffic light control boxes, grates and cooking ranges. The firm went into voluntary liquidation in 1967.

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