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Containing smallpox in Victorian London

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Introduction


The three smallpox ships
View full size imageThe floating hospitals in Long Reach. © NMM

For nearly 20 years after 1884, ships approaching London met the strange sight of the Metropolitan Asylums Board's three floating smallpox hospitals moored on the Thames.

The Board's fight against smallpox in London is a tale of superb organisation and dedication in the face of ignorance, intolerance and local self-interest.

As the world grapples with new diseases and fears of a possible return of smallpox, the story of the Board and its floating hospitals is well worth telling.

 




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