A parliamentary report of 1777 recorded parish workhouses in operation at Loughborough for up to 70 inmates, and at Sheepstead [Shepshed] for up to 80.
Loughborough Poor Law Union officially came into existence on 9th September 1838. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 28 in number, representing its 24 constituent parishes as listed below:
County of Leicester:
Belton, Burton-on-the-Wolds, Charley, Cotes, Hathern, Holton, Knight Thorpe, Long Whatton, Loughborough (4), Prestwold, Sheepshead [Shepshed] (2), Thorpeacre with Dishley, Woodthorpe, Wimeswold [Wymeswold].
County of Nottingham: Corthingstock or Costock, East Leake, West Leake, Normanton-on-Soar, Rempstone, Stanford-on-Soar, Sutton Bonington, Thorpe-in-the-Glebe, Willoughby-on-the-Wolds, Wysall.
Later Additions: Garendon (from 1862), Nanpanton (from 1894), Shepshed Parva 1894-6).
The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 23,580 with parishes ranging in size from Thorpe-in-the-Glebe (population 39) to Loughborough itself (10,800). The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1835-7 had been £7,086 or 6s.0d. per head of the population.
Loughborough Union workhouse was built in 1838 at the south side of Derby Road. The architects were G Gilbert Scott and W Bonython Moffatt who designed many other workhouses including ones at nearby Lutterworth, and at Louth in Lincolnshire. The Poor Law Commissioners authorised an expenditure of £6,550 on construction of the building which was intended to accommodate 350 inmates. Its layout and location are shown on the 1919 map below.
Loughborough was a typical Scott and Moffatt design with a single-storey block along the front, with a central entrance archway flanked by the porter's lodge and chapel to one side, and the Guardian's board-room and offices to the other. To the rear, the main three-storey accommodation block had the master's quarters at the centre, male inmates to one side, and females to the other. The able-bodied would be house nearest to the master's quarters, with the elderly and children at the outer ends. An infirmary and utility blocks lay at the rear of the site.
In 1874, Loughborough erected additional accommodation for vagrants using the new cellular system. The new block, adjoining the workhouse's Regent Street entrance, comprised six male and two female sleeping cells, six labour cells, and a separate drying and disinfecting room. The cells were fitted with bed boards, and bells from each communicated with the attendant's room. In the labour cells, 6 cwt of granite had to be broken into sufficiently small pieces before an inmate could be discharged. Many of the regular vagrants expressed their disgust and their determination to cease paying Loughborough their periodic visits. The new building was designed by George Hodson and cost £535 to construct.
After 1930, the workhouse became a Public Assistance Institution under the name Hastings House. After 1948, it continued as an old people's home and hospital, latterly renamed Regent Hospital. All of the buildings have been demolished and the site is now used for housing.
By the 1920s, the Loughborough Union was operating a children's home at Meadow Lane, Loughborough. In 1924 the home was superintended by Mr and Mrs C.W. Armett and could accommodate 12 children. The property no longer exists.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.
- The Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland, Long Street, Wigston Magna, Leicester, LE18 2AH. Holdings include: Guardians' minutes (1837-1930); Admissions and discharges (1912-18); Births register (1838-1900); Deaths (1838-1900).
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