Alston with Garrigill, Cumberland
Alston parish workhouse is believed to date from the mid-18th century. A parliamentary report of 1777 records a workhouse in operation in Aldston (an old spelling of Alston) able to accommodate up to 40 inmates.
The Alston with Garrigill Poor Law Union formally came into being on 4th March 1837. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of thirteen Guardians. The Union's population in 1831 had been 6,858 and the average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1834-36 had been £1,912 or 4s.2d. per head of the population.
The new union took over the existing parish workhouse at Alston and enlarged it. The building comprised a block of four houses in a sloping terrace and, according to Kelly's Directory, could have accommodated up to 80 inmates. The workhouse location and layout are shown on the 1899 OS map below.
Bulmer's Directory of 1901 recorded:
Alston Poor Law Union is co-extensive with the parish, and contained, in 1891, a population of 3,384, showing a decrease since the previous census of 1,237. The workhouse is situated near the town of Alston, and is capable of accommodating 60 inmates, but the number of indoor paupers at present in the house is 14, who are maintained at an average weekly cost of 3s. 4d. each. The house is in charge of a master, matron, and assistant matron, and three guardians are appointed to pay a visit once a month. The spiritual welfare of the inmates is looked after by the vicar or his curate, who have service every Sunday, and the Wesleyan minister who attends every other Sunday.
Possibly because of the limited space at the workhouse, the Board of Guardians had their regular meeting at Alston Town Hall.
The former workhouse buildings are now used as private housing.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals.
- Carlisle Archive Centre, Lady Gillford's House, Petteril Bank Road, Carlisle CA1 3AJ. Holdings include: Guardians' minutes (1837-1930); Ledgers and accounts (1835-1930); Tobacco and snuff register (1913-16); etc
- RN Thompson (1978) The Working of the Poor Law Amendment Act in Cumbria, 1836-1871 in Northern History, Vol XIV.
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