A name given by the French to their commodious public slaughter-houses. The many serious evils occasioned by the driving of cattle and other animals intended for the food of the people, through the crowded streets of a city, and slaughtering them in private buildings in densely populated districts, were so notorious as to induce the French Government in the year 1810 to prohibit private slaughtering, as well as the passage of cattle in Paris. Public abattoirs in the suburbs were in consequence established, where all the cattle, sheep, etc, destined for the supply of the city, were slaughtered before entering it. These abattoirs are five in number, and are situated nearly on a circle of about two miles radius from the centre of the city. Within each are included stables, stalls, and pens for the animals, and manufactories of various animal substances. The largest assemblage of abattoirs are those of the district of Montmartre, which covers a space 1200 feet in length and 270 in breadth.
The slaughter rooms are individually 32 feet long, and 16 broad, and have an entrance at each end; one for the living animals, and the other for the removal of the meat.
They are built of stone, and every interstice is carefully stopped with a hard impervious cement, so as to prevent the lodgment of any offensive matter. Each room has an abundant supply of water, and is adapted by its structure to be easily and thoroughly cleansed, ventilated, and drained. The stone floors are inclined into channels to conduct the blood into reservoirs. For the purpose of raising and moving the carcases, the most convenient mechanical aids are provided. The roofs project 9 feet beyond the outside walls, to afford shelter from the sun and rain. The total number of slaughter rooms in the five abattoirs before mentioned is 240. Contiguous to each, are stalls and pens for the animals, and places for forage; which are let separately at a rent to the butchers, thereby enabling each butcher to keep his animals in full health for any required length of time. Adjoining, or near to the abattoirs, are manufactories of tallow, glue, size, horn, oil, etc, so that all the various animal substances, besides the meat, are at once disposed of, and applied to their best uses, and, owing to the proximity, with great economy.
A resident inspector is appointed to each abattoir, under whose jurisdiction it is placed, and whose paramount duty it is to prevent cruelty to the animals, and see that they are in full health previous to being slaughtered, that the public health may not be affected thereby. The best authorities state, that the health of the Parisians has been greatly improved by the abolition of private slaughter-houses.
Now, in most of the large cities of Europe there are establishments of a similar nature; yet in London, the boasted emporium of the arts and sciences, having a population nearly double that of any city in Europe; private interest has been hitherto allowed to triumph over the public good; and, to the disgrace of the Corporation, as well as the government of the empire, London is to this day without a single abattoir ! The existence of our great cattle market in nearly the centre of the city has been for many years the subject of complaint, and a committee appointed by the House of Commons in 1828 to inquire into the state of Smithfield Market reported it to be a public nuisance. Nineteen more years have passed since that report was made, but the nuisance remains. The passage of numerous droves of cattle through our crowded thoroughfares always occasions great alarm and inconvenience to the inhabitants and persons in the streets, who frequently suffer bodily injuries therefrom, and occasionally sacrifices of life.
The poor animals also suffer exceedingly from cruel treatment and want of rest; and the quality of the meat is considerably deteriorated from these causes.
The slaughtering is conducted, in many cases, in ill-drained, ill-ventilated cellars; where, again, much needless pain is caused to the animals by the indifference and want of skill of the persons employed. The effluvia from some of these places and from the drains in the vicinity is abominable, and is the fruitful source of disease and mortality. There appears at last, however, some ground for hope that this disgraceful state of things has reached its term, and that public convenience, public health, and humanity, will be at length preferred to the imaginary interests of a few individuals, by the establishment of a cattle market and abattoirs in suitable localities in the suburbs. The adjoining cut represents a plan for an abattoir and cattle market, which will convey to the reader some insight to the arrangements necessary.
At a is the chief entrance to the cattle market, with gate-keeper's lodge, toll office, etc.: - b b b, principal roads traversing the market. c, assemblage of buildings in the centre, containing exchange, bank, post-office, coffee and refreshment rooms, and apartments for the officers of the market; and replete with every convenience for conducting the business of the establishment with efficiency and regularity, d d, market for horned cattle and horses, calculated for about 8000 heads, e e e is the sheep market, computed to contain about 50,000. f is the calves market, and g the space appropriated to swine, h h urine tanks for liquid manure, collected from the gutters, and conducted by pipes from all parts of the market, i i, sheds for sheep and cattle, with forage lofts above. kkk, walls surrounding the market and the abattoirs; l, engine for constantly supplying every part of the market and abattoirs with water; connected with which is a forge, workshop, and fire-engine, m m, exit gates from the market, n n, entrances from the market to the abattoirs; o o, abattoirs; pp, meat preserves and refrigeratories; q q, reservoirs of blood conducted by pipes from each abattoir; r r, superintendent and officers' houses, stables, and various offices; s, entrance gate to abattoirs, with toll and gate-keeper's house.