WHAT we throw out, or flush away, is so easy to take for granted but how we deal with waste is crucial to the public health of South Cumbria's communities.

How dangerous life could be in the era before organised rubbish collection, clean drinking water and flushing toilets was the subject of a talks day by leading local historian Dr Alan Crosby.

His Matters of Convenience presentations to a study day at Lancaster University by the Regional Heritage Centre told of mass deaths from waterborne diseases and how growing towns and cities struggled with sanitation.

An outbreak of cholera from August 1831 killed 265 people in Carlisle.

Ulverston was visited in 1855 by Robert Rawlinson, an inspector making a major report for the General Board of Health.

Britain experienced the last great cholera outbreak in 1865 to 1866 which claimed 15,500 lives.

The North of England was pretty slow in setting up official bodies — with money — to tackle the health and sanitation issues created by the Industrial Revolution.

Most groups of housing for workers were built with no provision for running water or sanitation.

Dr Crosby said: "It is increasing urban population densities which provide one of the catalysts for public health problems in the 19th century.