SUMMARY / RELATED TOPICS

Metropolitan Board of Works

The Metropolitan Board of Works was the principal instrument of London-wide government from December 1855 until the establishment of the London County Council in March 1889. Its principal responsibility was to provide infrastructure to cope with London's rapid growth, which it accomplished; the MBW was an appointed rather than elected body. This lack of accountability made it unpopular with Londoners in its latter years when it fell prey to corruption. London's growth had accelerated with the increase in railway commuting from the 1830s onwards. However, its local government was chaotic, with hundreds of authorities having varying fields of responsibility and overlapping geographic boundaries. Providing a specific service in a given area might need the co-ordination of many of these authorities. In 1835 elected municipal boroughs had been set up covering every major city except London; the City of London, only the core of the sprawling metropolis, was untouched by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 and resisted all moves to expand its borders to include the poorer inner-city districts surrounding it.

This meant that three counties had authority over the metropolitan area: Middlesex covered the area north of the Thames and west of the River Lea, Surrey the area to the south and south-west, Kent the far south east. In 1837 an attempt was made to set up a London-wide elected authority. In 1854 the Royal Commission on the City of London proposed to divide London into seven boroughs, each represented on a Metropolitan Board of Works; the proposal to divide the city into boroughs was abandoned, but the board of works was set up in 1855. In order to have a local body to coordinate local work to plan London, Parliament passed the Metropolis Management Act 1855 which created the Metropolitan Board of Works, it covered "the Metropolis", the area designated London in the 1851 census, the alternative proposals had been that it should cover the Metropolitan Police District, the area that coal tax was levied or the area used for the Metropolitan Interments Act 1852. It was not to be a directly elected body, but instead to consist of members nominated by the vestries who were the principal local authorities.

The larger vestries had two members and the City of London had three. In a few areas the vestries covered too small an area, here they were merged into a district board for the purpose of nominating members to the MBW. There were 45 members, who would elect a Chairman, to become a member ex officio; the first nominations took place in December and the Board met first on 22 December 1855 where John Thwaites was elected as Chairman. The board took over the powers and liabilities of the Commission of Sewers and the Buildings Office on 1 January 1856. A major problem was sewage: most of London's waste was allowed to flow into the Thames resulting in a horrendous smell in the summer months. In 1855 and 1858 there were bad summers with the latter being known as "The Great Stink". A notable achievement of the Board was the creation of the core London sewerage system, including 75 miles of main and 1000 miles of street sewers, which solved the problem. A large part of the work of the MBW was under the charge of the Chief Engineer, Joseph Bazalgette engineer with the Metropolitan Commission of Sewers.

Its other activities included slum clearance, the driving through of new streets to relieve traffic congestion. The most important streets built were Charing Cross Road, Garrick Street, Northumberland Avenue, Shaftesbury Avenue, Southwark Street. From 1869 onwards the MBW acquired all the private bridges crossing the River Thames and freed them of tolls, it rebuilt Putney Bridge, Battersea Bridge, Waterloo Bridge and Hammersmith Bridge. The Board wanted to build a new bridge to the east of London Bridge, discussed for many years. Despite the Treasury refusing to help by extending the coal and wine dues which paid for the Board, it went ahead with the plans, but saw its Private Bill rejected by the House of Commons; the Board created the three section Thames Embankment from 1864. From 1865 the MBW became responsible for administering the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. Architects employed by the MBW who specialised in fire stations included Robert Pearsall, responsible for Fulham Fire Station and Woolwich Fire Station.

In 1856 the MBW obtained an amending act of parliament giving them the power to provide "parks, pleasure-grounds and open spaces", subject to parliamentary approval. Among the parks and open spaces acquired or laid by the board were: Finsbury Park Southwark Park Victoria Embankment Gardens Leicester Square Wormwood Scrubs Hampstead Heath Battersea Park, Kennington Park, Victoria Park and the gardens surrounding Bethnal Green Museum Clapham Common Wandsworth Common Ravenscourt Park in 1888 and Clissold Park in 1889 Dulwich Park laid out by the MBW but opened by the successor London County Council in 1890. Under the Metropolitan Commons Act 1878 the MBW obtained the right to purchase and hold saleable rights in common lands in the Metropolis, in order

Draco (lawgiver)

Draco called Drako or Drakon, was the first recorded legislator of Athens in Ancient Greece. He replaced the prevailing system of oral law and blood feud by a written code to be enforced only by a court of law. Draco was the first democratic legislator, requested by the Athenian citizens to be a lawgiver for the city-state, but the citizens were unaware that Draco would establish laws characterized by their harshness. Since the 19th century, the adjective draconian refers to unforgiving rules or laws, in Greek and other European languages. During the 39th Olympiad, in 622 or 621 BC, Draco established the legal code with which he is identified. Little is known about his life, he may have belonged to the Greek nobility of Attica, with which the 10th-century Suda text records him as contemporaneous, prior to the period of the Seven Sages of Greece. It relates a folkloric story of his death in the Aeginetan theatre. In a traditional ancient Greek show of approval, his supporters "threw so many hats and shirts and cloaks on his head that he suffocated, was buried in that same theatre".

The truth about his death is still unclear, but it is known that Draco was driven out of Athens by the Athenians to the neighbouring island of Aegina, where he spent the remainder of his life. The laws that he laid were the first written constitution of Athens. So that no one would be unaware of them, they were posted on wooden tablets, where they were preserved for two centuries on steles of the shape of three-sided pyramids; the tablets were called axones because they could be pivoted along the pyramid's axis to read any side. The constitution featured several major innovations: Instead of oral laws known to a special class, arbitrarily applied and interpreted, all laws were written, thus being made known to all literate citizens: "the constitution formed under Draco, when the first code of laws was drawn up"; the laws distinguish between involuntary homicide. The laws were harsh. For example, any debtor whose status was lower than that of his creditor was forced into slavery; the punishment was more lenient for those owing a debt to a member of a lower class.

The death penalty was the punishment for minor offences, such as stealing a cabbage. Concerning the liberal use of the death penalty in the Draconic code, Plutarch states: "It is said that Drakon himself, when asked why he had fixed the punishment of death for most offences, answered that he considered these lesser crimes to deserve it, he had no greater punishment for more important ones". All his laws were repealed by Solon in the early 6th century BC, with the exception of the homicide law. After much debate, the Athenians decided to revise the laws, including the homicide law, in 409 BC; the homicide law is a fragmented inscription but states that it is up to the victim's relatives to prosecute a killer. According to the preserved part of the inscription, unintentional homicides received a sentence of exile, it is not clear. In 409 BC, intentional homicide was punished by death, but Draco's law begins,'καὶ ἐὰμ μὲ ‘κ ρονοίς τε', ambiguous and difficult to translate. One possible translation offers, "Even if a man not intentionally kills another, he is exiled".

Draco introduced the lot-chosen Council of Four Hundred, distinct from the Areopagus, which evolved in constitutions to play a large role in Athenian democracy. Aristotle notes that Draco, while having the laws written legislated for an existing unwritten Athenian constitution such as setting exact qualifications for eligibility for office. Draco extended the franchise to all free men who could furnish themselves with a set of military equipment, they elected the Council of Four Hundred from among their number. Thus, in the event of their death, their estate could pass to a competent heir; these officers were required to hold to account the prytanes and hipparchoi of the preceding year until their accounts had been audited. "The Council of Areopagus was guardian of the laws, kept watch over the magistrates to see that they executed their offices in accordance with the laws. Any person who felt himself wronged might lay an information before the Council of Areopagus, on declaring what law was broken by the wrong done to him.

But, as has been said before, loans were secured upon the persons of the debtors, the land was in the hands of a few." Ancient Greek law Hammurabi, a Babylonian who wrote some of the earliest codes of law Cruel and unusual punishment Retributive justice List of Ancient Greeks List of eponymous laws Roisman and translated by J. C. Yardley, Ancient Greece from Homer to Alexander ISBN 1-4051-2776-7 Carawan, Edwin. Rhetoric and the Law of Draco. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 978-0-19-815086-2. Gagarin, Michael. Drakon and Early Athenian Homicide Law. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-02627-6. Gagarin, Michael; the Cambridge Companion to Ancient Greek Law. Cambrid

Lucian Newhall House (Lynn, Massachusetts)

The Lucian Newhall House is a historic house at 84 Nahant Street in Lynn, Massachusetts. Built in 1866 for a prominent local businessman, it is a high-quality example of Second Empire architecture, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, included in the Diamond Historic District in 1996. The Lucian Newhall House stands in Lynn's Diamond District, a residential area where the city's elite lived during the period of historical significance; the house stands at the northeast corner of Nahant and Ocean Streets, presenting finished facades to both streets. It is a 2-1/2 story wood frame structure, with a flared mansard roof. At the center of the roof is a square cupola with three round-arch windows on each side, a broad-eaved hip-roof with an elaborate bracketed cornice; the building corners have wooden block quoining, eaves--like those of the cupola--adorned with an elaborated bracketed cornice. The house's Nahant Street facade is three bays wide, with single-story projecting bays flanking a center entrance.

The entrance is sheltered by an elaborate porch, joined to the roofs of the flanking bays and topped by a third projecting bay. Dormers with elaborate window-surrounds encompass round-arch windows, the center of which has a double window and is recessed; the Ocean Street facade of the house has a similar plan and decoration, but its ground-floor bays are rectangular, its three roof dormers identical. The house was built in 1866 for a descendant of early Lynn settlers. Newhall was one of the first local businessmen to establish a shoe factory in the city's Central Business District, remained in the shoe business until 1875. Newhall's house is one of the most visually prominent in the Diamond District. A common mis-spelling of "Lucian" is as "Lucien". National Register of Historic Places listings in Lynn, Massachusetts National Register of Historic Places listings in Essex County, Massachusetts