Keeping The Workhouse clean

Close-up of conservation dusting with a brush

At the height of the workhouse system, the building was cleaned, painted and looked after by the tens of paupers who lived in its rooms. Now, we have a much smaller workforce who spend their time keeping The Workhouse clean and tidy for visitors to enjoy.

Collections to care for

  • Pieces of oakum - oakum was old tarred rope from ships, the paupers would sit and unpick the rope into small fibres for hours. It was then sold back to the shipyards providing 'money for old rope'.
  • We have a shirt that was donated to our collection by a former member of The Association of Health and Residential Care Officers. The paupers at Southwell Workhouse would have worn very similar shirts here. 

Our collection

From slipper pans to a harmonium, our collection contains a fascinating range of objects. Browse our online collection to delve deeper into Victorian Workhouse items. 

Join in with our conservation

Our Conservation team is small but efficient, and very friendly. Find out about Fiona, who began volunteering at The Workhouse then joined the conservation team as a member of staff.
Do you have an eye for detail and a steady hand? We're currently recruiting for volunteers to join our conservation team to help us preserve The Workhouse for future generations.