Decline, depopulation and disease

The demise of the woollen cloth industry in Shepton in the early 19th century was followed by a large number of family migrations to elsewhere in England and emigrations to other countries, especially the USA, as people desperately searched for work.

The impact on the town was profound, with many properties standing empty for decades and falling into disrepair, according to census records.

Moreover, the diseases which accompany neglect, especially poor sanitation, emerged here as this snippet from 1890 shows. Typhoid is spread by contaminated water or food in dirty conditions and perhaps its most famous Victorian victim was Prince Albert who succumbed  in 1861.

Western Gazette 4 july 1890

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