Bradford, West Yorkshire
Bradford's first workhouse was built in 1738 at Barkers End at the north-east of Bradford, at the south side of what is now Barkerend Road. A parliamentary report of 1777 recorded local workhouses in operation at Bradford (for up to 70 inmates), Allerton (30), Calverley with Farsley (40), Clayton (20), Heaton (8), Horton (40), Idle (60), Manningham (36), North Bierley and Bowling (70), and Thornton (30).
The Barkers End workhouse was rebuilt in 1790, as shown on the 1848 map below. It comprised an L-shaped building fronting onto the road, with men accommodated (by 1848) at the west and women at the east.
Eden, in his 1797 survey of the poor in England, reported of Bradford that:
Pudsey's provision for housing the poor dates back to at least 1639 when the churchwardens and overseers were ordered to provide "howseroome and harbour" for Stephen Braithwaite and his wife (Strong, 1982). In 1663, the township officials were required to build "a Cottage house — upon ye Waste" to accommodate Isaac Gaunt, his wife, and three small children. The township's first workhouse had been established by 1741 when Lowton innkeeper Joseph Fenton bequeathed "my uppermost cottage and dwelling house called the workhouse where the poor of Pudsey are now maintained." In 1761, conditions in this establishment were said to be "lamentable and deplorable" and at least two children of widower Paul Hudson, a Moravian, died while residing there. Following complaints by the local Moravian community, it was decided to erect a new workhouse on common land at Littlemoor, at the north side of what is now Valley Road. The inmates were engaged in cloth making and a hoist was fitted above one of the first-floor windows (see illustration below) which was used as a "taking-in" door. Supplies for the workhouse were mostly obtained from the Moravian shop at Fulneck. The shop's records include the sale of sewing materials, harding (a coarse linen used to make men's shirts and women's shifts), and wolsey (a softer fabric with a flax warp and wool weft, used for petticoats and shawls). Provisions supplied to the workhouse included hops (for brewing), clay pipes, tobacco (shag and pigtail for the men, and ladies' twist for the women), and 20 lbs of treacle per week. Other goods included lettuce seed, bedcord (for stretching across wooden bed frames), and a "bakestone" (on which to bake oatcakes). More luxurious items such as tea, sugar, and dried fruit were occasionally supplied on a separate account for the workhouse "Dame". At the rear of the workhouse was prison where miscreants were locked up until the constables could escort them to the New Inn at Bradford to be dealt with by a magistrate. At a meeting of Pudsey's "Town's Committee" on 1st February 1802, it was resolved to "discontinue the poorhouse, the occupants to be disposed of as soon as possible," and at the next meeting, two weeks later, an agreement was made with John Cooper of Littlemoor, "to board the paupers residing in the poorhouse for one year, to commence on the first day of March, 1802, and likewise to find fire for them at the rate of three shillings per week per head, to have their earnings for his own benefit — the poor to have two meat dinners per week, and likewise to be under the inspection of the Committee to see they be well kept." (Rayner, 1887). In 1830, Martin George Crowther was the workhouse Master. Little Moor Council School was built on the old workhouse site in 1891, now replaced by housing.
The workhouse for Calverley-cum-Farsley was built in 1756 on Calverley's Back Lane, now Blackett Street, at the expense of Sir Walter Blackett (formerly Sir Walter Calverley — he changed his surname as a condition of a inheritance from his uncle). The relatively generous treatment of the inmates made it an expensive place to run — bills in 1772-3 included ones from suppliers of cloth, milk, butter, malt, groceries, veal, beef and mutton, items which would not have been available to those on out-relief. In 1778, the Overseers resorted to offering 8d. a week to Hannah Sowden for agreeing to leave the workhouse. In 1807, the twenty inmates comprised six children, nine women (two bastard-bearers, one wife and the rest widows), two were old men and three were just referred to by their surname and noted as 'old'. (King, 1997) The building no longer exists but a plaque from the original building has been preserved at the site. It reads "Sir Walter Blackett at his own Expence built this Workhouse in the year 1756."
Idle's workhouse was at the south side of what is now Windhill Old Road.
There was a workhouse in Clayton in two cottages on Ramsden Place, off Town End Road. In 1841, the location was refererred to as Workhouse Fold.
In 1772, Manningham and Heaton agreed to run a joint workhouse.
In 1790, the chapelry of Wibsey converted Odsal Farm into a workhouse. The buildings were later used as three cottages.
According to Baines' Directory of 1830, North Bierley had a workhouse at Hodgson Moor with John Wilkinson as its Governor.
Allerton had a workhouse near Allerton Hall in a property known as Dean House.
The Horton parish workhouse was located in what became Horton Park. Its first recorded master was Tom Carter, a cow doctor and dentist, who was succeeded by Jeremy Haley, Dan Booth, and William Marshall. The building was demolished in 1822 following the transfer of the workhouse to premises at Horton Green. The old site was bought by a Leeds wool merchant named Noble who erected a residence known as Well Close House.
In 1812, when there was a national shortage of coins, Bradford was one a several urban workhouses to issue poor relief in the form of specially minted workhouse tokens. These were useable at local shops and could be redeemed by shop-keepers at the workhouse or union offices.
Bradford Poor Law Union was formed on 10th February 1837. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 32 in number, representing its 20 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):
West Riding of Yorkshire: Allerton, Bolton, Bowling (2), Bradford (6), Calverley with Farsley, Clayton, Cleckheaton, Drighlington, Heaton, Horton (3), Hunsworth, Idle (2), Manningham, North Bierley (2), Pudsey (2), Shipley, Thornton (2), Tong, Wilsden, Wike [Wyke].
The population falling within the union at the 1831 census had been 94,621 with parishes ranging in size from Bolton (population 671) to Bradford itself (23,223).
Following the creation of the Bradford Union in February 1837, the town was the scene of vigorous anti-Poor Law campaigning. This peaked in November 1837 during a visit of Assistant Poo Law Commissioner Alfred Power — his meetings with the Guardians were disrupted and he was attacked by a crowd. A contingent of six London police officers was sent to maintain order. On 18th November, cavalry troops from Leeds were called in to quell a mob attacking a meeting at the Courthouse. The Riot Act was read, and over five thousand protestors, armed mainly with stones, fought a running battle with the troops who responded with sabres and, eventually, muskets.
In 1839, Bradford was one of the 37 unions which the Poor Law Commissioners reported that "for the present decline to concur in providing an adequate workhouse". However, a local directory of 1847 records that the old workhouse at Idle "has twice been enlarged for the use of Bradford Union".
In 1848, the new North Bierley Union was formed from the parishes surrounding Bradford.
Little Horton Workhouse
Eventually, in 1850, Bradford relented and built a new workhouse at a site on Little Horton Lane in Bradford, at a cost of £7,000. Construction work began in August 1850, and the first inmates were transferred from the old Idle and Bingley workhouses on 29th September, 1851. The new building was designed by Henry F Lockwood and William Mawson who were the architects of a number of northern workhouses including those at Barnsley, Carlisle, Dewsbury, Haslingden, North Bierley, and Penistone. Its location and workhouse are shown on the 1906 map below.
White's 1854 Directory described the workhouse as "a spacious, handsome, and admirably arranged building, and stands upon 14 acres of land purchased at the cost of £4000. It has room for about 350 inmates, and attached to it is a spacious infirmary."
A entrance and administration block, mostly one storey high, lay alongside the road on Little Horton Lane. To its rear lay the main workhouse building, an elongated H-shaped block facing to the north-west.
The new workhouse had problems with its staff — the master in 1851 was suspended for habitual drunkenness and immoral conduct. In 1852, other workhouse staff were accused of neglect after the death of an inmate. In the same year, the Guardians demanded the resignations of the master and matron for incompetence, and the workhouse tailor was dismissed for "an improper connection with a young female inmate".
In the 1860s, four additional blocks were erected at the south of the workhouse, taking its capacity to 1,000.
In 1904, a new T-shaped infirmary block was erected at the east of the main building.
A collection of single-storey utility and workshop buildings were located at the west of the site.
The workhouse casual wards were at the south of the site with their entrance on Park Lane.
From 1904, to protect them from disadvantage in later life, the birth certificates for those born in the workhouse gave its address just as 217 Horton Lane, Little Horton.
During the First World War, the workhouse was used to accommodate military war casualties, with additional temporary wards being set up in huts erected in the grounds.
In 1920, there was a severe shortage of hospital accommodation in Bradford. The Bradford City Council's solution was to make use of the facilities at the workhouse which, at the end of the war, had 1,700 beds. The council negotiated a lease of the site from the Bradford Guardians and on 1st April 1920, England's first municipal general hospital was inaugurated - initially for a five-year experimental period. St Luke's, as the hospital became known, received patients on the recommendation of a medical practitioner, with patients making a small payment based on their family income. The workhouse entrance and administration building was adapated for use as an out-patients department.
Homes for the Aged Poor
In the early 1900s, the Bradford Guardians pioneered the provision of a separate "cottage homes" establsihment for the elderly poor. The site chosen was at Daisy Hill, two miles to the north-west of Bradford.
The cottages were arranged around three sides of a rectangle. The central area, open to the south, contained grass and trees.
A house at the centre of the northern side presumably contained the site superintendent's lodgings and offices.
The cottages were later known as Hill Top Cottages. The site has latterly been used by local social services.
Daisy Hill Workhouse
In 1910, the Bradford Guardians erected a further workhouse at Daisy Hill, not far from the Union's homes for the aged (see map above). It was designed by Fred Holland and intended for use as a 'test' workhouse for the union's able-bodied paupers, while the Little Horton site was to be reserved for the sick and infirm.
By 1917, Daisy Hill was being used to accommodate 'feeble-minded' male paupers.
The buildings, much enlarged, now house Lynfield Mount Hospital which provides psychiatric care.
Bradford Cottage / Scattered Homes
Bradford operated a number of children's homes in the early 1900s. Local trade of the period directories list both "children's homes" at 40 Woodroyd Road and 7 West View, "cottage homes" at 151 Kensington Street, 86 Lister Avenue, 385 Killinghall Road, and 6 Lapage Street, and a "cottage home for boys" at 22 Ellercroft Terrace. In fact, these establishments appear to resemble what are more usually described as scattered homes.
In 1912, the union's aged poor were also being accommodated at premises on Back Lane, Manningham.
In 1902-3, the Bradford Guardians erected a sanatorium near Eastby in north Yorkshire for the treatment of phthisis, or tuberculosis of the lungs. Eastby was possibly the first such establishment to be set up by a Poor Law Union. The Eastby site operated as branch of the Little Horton workhouse, with all patients having to be examined there first. The sanatorium's washing was also done at the workhouse laundry.
The eight-acre site occupied an elevated yet sheltered position with the wards facing to the south-east. The buildings, designed by Frederick Holland, comprised an administration block connected to an adjacent dining-room, a ward block, various outbuildings, and several shelters in the surrounding woods.
The single-storey timber-built ward block could house 26 patients in rooms holding from one to five beds. Bathrooms lay at the centre-rear of the block, with a nurses' room above.
By the mid-1920s, the sanatorium had become Eastby Sanatorium and School, providing 83 beds for boys aged 4 to 16 suffering from tuberculosis.
The sanatorium closed during the 1940s, and most of the buildings demolished, Only the former administration block now survives, converted to use as a private house.
Bowling Park Institution
By 1917, the union had opened an institution for 'feeble-minded' females at 283 Rooley Lane, at the south side of Bowling Park.
The site later became known as the Park and closed in the 1970s.
In around 1912, the union had plans to build a home for 'delicate' children at Thackley.
- West Yorkshire Archive Service — Bradford, Central Library, Prince's Way, Bradford BD1 1NN. Holdings include: Various minutes (1837-1930); Admissions and discharges (1857-1930); Births and deaths (1838-1930); Creed registers (1869-1930); Punishment book (1888-1930); Register of adopted children (1899-1930); etc. Newly catalogued: Ref. 42D94/1/5; c1900-1902; Notes regarding the Bradford Poor Law Union: with details of the three Bradford wards which are represented by 21 guardians who themselves are divided up into four sections who sit every week to hear and receive applications for relief. There are seven committees: assessment, infirmary, childrens, finance, visiting, vaccination and revision. There are also details of numbers of inmates in the Workhouse, numbers of children in the Central Home, and the Cottage Home. The cost of boarding out the boys and the efforts to reverse the "stigma of the Workhouse"; the rules of the workhouses; the cost per head; the positive arguments in the light of criticisms of the ratepayers; the routine for new arrivals at the Workhouse; food and diet of the inmates and the work they carry out, for example the cutting of granite.
- Carter, P (Ed.) 2004 Bradford Poor Law Union — Papers and Correspondence with the Poor Law Commission, October 1834 to January 1839, Yorkshire Archaeological Society.
- Cudworth, W (1886) Ramble Round Horton
- Cudworth, W (1896) Manningham, Heaton and Allerton
- King, Steve (1997) Reconstructing Lives: The Poor, the Poor Law and Welfare in Calverley, 1650-1820 in Social History, vol.22, no.3, pp318-338.
- Rayner, Simeon (1887) The History and Antiquities of Pudsey
- Strong, Ruth (1982) Pudsey Workhouse (in Old West Riding, vol.2, no.2)
- White, W. (1847) Directory an318-338.d Topography of Leeds, Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield, Wakefield, and the whole of the clothing districts of the West Riding of Yorkshire
- Wood, Malcolm (no date) Workhouse (unpublished typescript, Bradford Local Studies Library).
- Ripon Workhouse Museum, Sharow View, Allhallowgate, Ripon HG4 1LE.
- Thanks to Pudsey Civic Society for use of Pudsey and Calverley archive images.
This page () is copyright Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.