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Welsh outlook


Vol. 2, No. 11 Nov. 1915

Rural housing. Book review.

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unlike books on the same subject by Crotch, Aronson
and others, the point of view is that of a public
health specialist who constantly comes face to face
with rural housing difficulties in the course of a
busy professional life. The book is at once scientific
and practical, and in addition to being suitable for
the lay reader it might well be accepted as a reliable
text-book by sanitary inspectors who have been
entrusted with the important duties of housing
inspection under the Housing Regulations. The
detection of defects which render dwellings unfit
is not by any means so simple as many people believe
Dr. Savage warns his readers that a dilapidated house
is not necessarily unfit, while dwellings which are
in a fair state of repair may, nevertheless, be defective
in very important details. This is a matter upon
which not only lay readers but also sanitary inspectors
­especially those in rural districts-sadly need
enlightenment, and by an excellent series of photo-
graphic illustrations, the writer makes doubly clear
what he discusses with lucidity in the text.
The second chapter has some useful sections,
describing existing housing conditions and methods
of dealing with common faults such as those
of dampness and lack of thorough ventilation.
In the fifth chapter is considered the progress of the
housing survey which was made obligatory on every
local authority by the Housing Town Planning, etc.,
Act of 1909. Dr. Savage is very disappointed with
the amount of work done under the Housing Regula-
tions. He gives a table showing the percentages of
houses annually inspected in fifteen English counties
these vary from four per cent. to ten per cent-
in one instance only was more than ten per cent. of
the total covered. No figures are given for any
Welsh counties, but there can be no doubt that the
same unsatisfactory state of affairs prevails here also.
It is obvious that at the present rate of progress
from ten to twenty-five years will be required to
complete the survey, and in individual districts
anything up to one hundred years
Other chapters deal with the relation of housing
to public health, and the requirements of new
cottages in rural areas. It is to the last chapter
in which the writer propounds his solution for the
rural housing problem that the housing reformer
will turn with greatest eagerness. Dr. Savage
reviews the proposals that have been made by various
political parties and by different schools of reformers
and offers some sound criticism concerning each.
He does not favour the erection of dwellings by the
Central Government, but holds that State grants
should be given to local authorities for general
sanitary efficiency, including housing, and a special
grant towards losses on municipal housing schemes on
the basis of a fixed proportion of the annual deficiency.
That is, any losses incurred on the housing schemes
of rural authorities should be borne partly by the
local authorities and partly by the Central Govern-
ment. The administration of the housing grants
is to be through the County Councils. The sugges-
tion is not original, but it is quite practicable, and
coincides very nearly with that put forward by the
Land Enquiry Committee. On the whole the
chapter is a disappointing one.
Friendly Russia." By Denis Garstin. With
an Introduction by H. G. Wells. T. Fisher Unwin.
Mr. Garstin's volume falls into two divisions,
the first a collection of travel sketches, written before
the outbreak of war, the second a series of impressions
of the early days immediately following the momen-
tous events of the first week of August, 1914. Both
divisions are written with humour, and genuine
sympathy, and, being in their origin contemporaneous
with the events they describe, give a sense of actuality
which heightens the effect of the contrast. Even
after a year of war and war literature, Russian life
remains curiously strange to English readers. The
great majority of Mr. Garstin's place sketches
describe a part of Russia, which must be strange even
to many Russians, for his introduction to Russia
was made in the Crimea, a land, which has in its
composition, besides a distinct infusion of the
Mediterranean, a very strong flavouring of Southern
Mr. Garstin's description of a Tartar Wedding
has scarcely a trace of Europe-none at all perhaps,
except the incident of the Golosh, which, at an
appointed moment of the rite, is ceremoniously
placed upon the right foot of the bridegroom. Nor
is there much of Europe in Ablakim the big black-
bearded Tartar who lives in the little mud-built
town on the mountain side with his silent, soft-
eyed, crimson trowsered, women-folk, and makes a
strange contrast to the musicians, professors, revolu-
tionaries, and other members of the intelligent
bourgeoisie who form the background of Mr.
Garstin's picture of holiday life in the Crimea.
When his travels bring us to Moscow we come
nearer to the Russia with which we are familiar,
nearer, too, to those elements of political instability
which have done more than anything else to make
Russia in the past seem a land of mystery and even
of menace to constitutional Europe. Then comes the
thunderclap of war, and in a moment one is conscious
of a different atmosphere, conscious of what Mr.
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