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Amputation saw, reputed to have been the property of George 'Graveyard' Walker, United Kingdom, 1800-1884

George Alfred Walker (1807-84) was an English surgeon who studied the impact of town graveyards on health and disease. He believed there was a link between infectious disease and the dreadful state of many cemeteries. He wrote a book called Gatherings from Grave Yards in 1839 and his work led to a number of parliamentary committees being set up to investigate the issue. Laws were introduced in 1851 which prevented further burials in London’s inner city graveyards and any burials that were seen as a danger to public health. People were buried outside of city centres and burial inspectors appointed.

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    Glossary: amputation saw

    Saw used for amputation. These tend to be instruments from the past, and were in common usage from c. 1500-1940 in Europe.

    Glossary: amputation

    Removal of part of, or a whole limb by surgery. Used to control pain or the spread of disease in the affected limb.

    Glossary: sanitary reform

    Reforms designed to improve working and living conditions. In the 1800s these were particularly targeted at the working class population.