From Workhouse to Welfare

Carbolic soap and scrubbing brush

Discover something new. This new exhibition charts the changes to the role played by The Workhouse in delivering health and social welfare during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The gradual progression from workhouse to social care facility is illustrated through artefacts, quotes and the stories of those who lived and worked in the institution.

From paupers to patients

The original role of The Workhouse was as a place of last resort for the poor and needy run under a strict regime and operating a policy of segregation of the able-bodied and the old and infirm. There was always a need for the provision of medical services for inmates and in the early days a small infirmary provided for these. Over time, as the numbers of old and infirm increased additional facilities were built. During the twentieth century these provided social and medical care for the elderly and maternity services for local people.

From bathtubs to bedpans

The exhibition is spread across several of the rooms and starts in the washhouse through which all new inmates had to pass through for bathing and medical inspection. Rough scrubbing brushes and carbolic soap were the order of the day.

The children’s dormitory contains a poignant reminder, in the form of a doll and letters, of the anxiety felt by parents separated from their children who were in isolation for diseases such as scarlet fever. While the old and infirm women’s dormitory contains bedpans and slipper shoe symbolic of old age both then and now.

The exhibition ‘From Workhouse to Welfare’ until Sunday 6 November 2016, 12noon-4pm (Wednesday to Sunday, Bank Holidays and throughout August).

The oral history team who have researched the more recent material for this exhibition are always keen to hear from people who have had direct experience of the Workhouse. Please contact: 01636 817260.