Physician and social reformer who devoted his life to sanitary reform in Britain.
Born in Longsight, Manchester, Chadwick started his career as civil servant. In 1838, after reading a report of the appalling sanitary conditions in England's industrial towns, he decided to carry out his own research. In 1842 he published his Report into the Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population of Great Britain. It made grim reading and proved that life expectancy was much lower in towns than in the countryside.
Chadwick became Director of Public Health in 1848 and initiated the first British Public Health Act. This provided for the formation of a Board of Health. Local branches of the Board were charged with overseeing street cleaning, refuse collection, water supply and sewerage systems.
The Board of Health was abolished in 1854. Although Chadwick was single-mindedly committed to the cause of public health, he did not achieve all he wished for, partly because others found him rude and dictatorial.