Who was the first British woman sanitary inspector?

ROSE SQUIRE 1861 – 1938

In 1895, Rose Squire was employed by the Home Office as a Factory Inspector. After being educated at home she’d gained a Diploma in Health and in 1894, became the first woman to gain a Sanitary Inspector’s certificate.

Now known as Environmental Health Officers, the history of Sanitary Inspectors goes back to the 1840s. A Poor Law Commissioner, Edwin Chadwick, conducted an inquiry into the causes of poverty. His report concluded that people often became poor because of ill health due to a bad environment. He believed that improving sanitation was the key to breaking this vicious circle.

Chadwick campaigned for change which eventually resulted in the Public Health Act 1848. The Act provided for the appointment of Inspectors of Nuisances in areas of need. By 1883, this had evolved into The Association of Public Sanitary Inspectors.

It was this organization’s qualification that Rose Squire acquired and that led her into her government work.

Image credit: Image by Renate Köppel from Pixabay