Mark’s History: When kissing was banned in 1913 Farsley

Credit: [Report 1911] / Medical Officer of Health, Farsley U.D.C. Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.

Words: Mark Stevenson

Kissing is one of the more pleasurable things in life (unless you have been eating garlic). You might have heard on the news recently that the Government at the centre of controversy over kissing strangers under the mistletoe.

Well, this kind of advice against kissing other people to help stop the spread of disease is nothing new.

Back in 1913 John R Lambert, who was Medical Officer of Health for the Urban District Council of Farsley, was also advising against kissing and spitting. It was not Covid that was forcing him to say this but Phthsis/Consumption.

In 1913 Phthsis was reported 23 times. Four of the people infected went to a ‘Sanatorium Treatment’ and were able to return to work. There were five deaths, but no-one knows how many cases went unreported.

John R Lambert, as Medical Officer of Health for Farsley, would make yearly reports to the Urban District Council of Farsley. Apart from the facts and figures around health his reports gave a great insight into life in Farsley in the early 1900’s.

In one of John’s reports he mentions that Farsley was 840 acres and was bounded on the North by Calverley District, the boundary being Dike Lane and the Red Beck. On the South it was Pudsey Borough, on the East by Leeds Borough the boundary was Stanningley Beck, and on the West by Calverley District, the boundary being Galloway Lane and Woodhall Lane.

His reports would also include the birth and death rate. In 1913 for example 118 Births were registered in Farsley with one being a ‘Transferable Birth’ (a mother from Farsley, but living elsewhere) and one illegitimate birth being registered. 

At the time the population of Farsley was around 6,000. 

He was also responsible for the inspection of the seven slaughter houses and the numerous milk sheds and bake houses, one of which was underground in Farsley. He mentions two hospitals in his reports, one being the fever hospital at Calverley Moor (does anyone know where this was?) and Calverley Joint Hospital.

John would not think twice about closing schools for weeks at a time if it helped stop the spread of diseases like mumps and measles or whatever was doing the rounds at the time. 

Two things in particular stood out in his reports; one was that 1,796 loads of nightsoil (poo) was removed in 1903 at a cost of £127 2s, 7d. Most of which was sent to Rodley Fold Farm, where once there was a sewage works run by Farsley Council. It was also noteworthy that in 1925 that 22 ash pits were converted into 24 new dust bins bringing the total to 494 dust bins.


  1. Calverley Hospital (Pudsey, Parsley, Calverley, Eccleshill and Idle Hospital for Infectious Diseases) SE 194 344 102652 which shows the site to be on Woodhall Road, off Gain Lane. Just in Pudsey Municipal Borough Council area originally, but now in Bradford Met. district


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