200 Years Ago in Norwich : Little Public Spirit Amongst Norwich Citizens?

Going back 200 years ago and the journalism in the Norwich Mercury….. I’m more amused by the editor’s response to a letter rather than what the correspondent had sent, but let’s deal with that first:


It has often been a subject of regret to many of the inhabitants of this city, and not less to many of the country families who resort hither for medical advice, that in a place where there are so many public and scientific societies, and in which public improvements have kept pace with its increased population*, that there exist not in the city of Norwich any public baths, either for the benefit of the invalid or the gratification of the luxurious.

There is no doubt that if baths were established here, our medical men would be still more resorted to for advice, by distant patients, than they now are, and many families might be thus encouraged to take up a temporary residence here, who, under present circumstances, must go to Yarmouth or London for the sake of such conveniences.

As an establishment of this nature could not fail to succeed, it is, I conceive, worthy the attention of some spirited individual to invest a small capital in the scheme, as a source of emolument, sure to repay him liberally for his trouble. A lodging house upon a respectable scale might be attached to the baths. Should no individual be found who would undertake this, possibly there might be found twenty gentlemen who, by subscribing 25l each, would become shareholders of such an undertaking, or as a joint stock company, for their own personal comfort or convenience.

There are, perhaps, few places which possess such advantages as this city, in regard to pure water, daily into the very houses, besides the facility of carrying off the water at a very trifling expence.

I am Sir, an Invalid.”

As an aside, Norwich didn’t get baths for some time after this letter, but it was response of the editor that moderately amused me.

“*We wish we could confirm the compliment our correspondent pays the citizens. There certainly is no place in the kingdom where so little public spirit is exhibited, and where improvement is so far behind wealth and population”.

I’m not sure that the present editor of the EDP, or indeed a similar journal, would get away with that.