To Quarantine or Not to Quarantine? That was the Question!
Credit: Plymouth Museums Galleries Archives
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Podcast case study: In the Time of Cholera, the Three Towns and the Quarantine Wrangles 1848-49. 

Poster display: previous experiences of Plymouth/Three Towns quarantine management, focused mainly on the 19th century. It revealed the disputes over: 

  • Where ships could ride out quarantine in Plymouth Sound 
  • The different quarantine systems of the Royal Navy, the Marines and the Merchant Marine 
  • The reactions of the local populations of the Three Towns to attempts at public health management. 

The Past and the Present of Quarantine and Lockdowns in Plymouth and the South West 

The use of quarantine and other measures for controlling epidemic diseases is of long-standing, and has regularly been strengthened by legislation but that legislation (whether statute or under local bye-laws) has always the potential to be controversial because such strategies raise political, ethical, and socioeconomic issues. Implementation of quarantine, including lockdown measures, has always required managing a careful balance between what is identified as the public interest and a safeguarding of individual rights. 

Historically Plymouth, in the Three Towns era, provides a fine case study of the complexities and different expectations, from the 18th century on, post the Quarantine Act 1710, in ways that can better inform both the local, the national and the global dimensions in 2020 in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic of 2020. However, quarantine regulations and the impact of these on local populations is broader than the human experience: quarantining of animals in the face of disease, and this will be considered through two linked events.

The podcast was available throughout the week-long ESRC Festival via the above link and remains live on YouTube to view. Please email for any queries.

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About Culture and Heritage Exchange

Formerly known as CHITCHAT, the Culture and Heritage Exchange (CHEx) is a knowledge exchange initiative for the School of Law, Criminology and Government. This initiative engages academic researchers, industry professionals, heritage stakeholders, and the general public in transdisciplinary conversations through transmedia methods, sources, and platforms.

The study of culture and heritage offers an important forum for the discussion of key influences and temporal trajectories that have helped shape the present. The initiative is proactive in disseminating its members’ research through its events such as public exhibitions, film showings and public seminars. 

Find out more about CHEx

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