History KS3: Transforming the health of Liverpool

This film looks at historical sources relating to efforts to improve public health in Liverpool in the nineteenth century.

It follows the journey of Dr Sam Caslin, from Liverpool University, as she explores the story of Dr Duncan, the eponymous figurehead of a well-known public house in the centre of Liverpool.

The film begins with Dr Caslin exploring the Dr Duncan pub in central Liverpool, which is full of memorabilia relating to Duncan, who was Liverpool’s and the countries first Medical Officer of health.

She also visits Pembroke Place, the last remaining collection of 19th century housing in which migrants to Liverpool lived in appalling conditions.

Regular outbreaks of cholera and other diseases led to epidemics and life expectancy was very low.

Continuing her investigation, Dr Caslin visits the Liverpool Public records office where she discovers the major contribution made by Dr Duncan to the city’s health.

He was determined to improve sanitary conditions, make landlords improve their buildings and drive up standards of public health.

The film reveals that his efforts were rewarded with life expectancy continuing to increase until the present day.

This clip is from the series Hunting for History.

Teacher Notes

This film looks at the work of a public health pioneer in Victorian Liverpool.

After watching the analysis of the sources by Dr Caslin, students could be asked to analyse how she made use of the sources and built an argument.

They could then be asked to write a paragraph or give a short presentation in response to the question: ‘How did Dr Caslin use evidence to convince you that Dr Duncan was a significant individual and how convinced were you?’

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching KS3 History in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and 4th level People, past events and societies in Scotland.