New! Info on 1000s of former children's homes/orphanages/reformatories etc.

The Author

Hi, I'm Peter Higginbotham, the creator of this web site which, at the last count, contained over 2800 web pages, 6000 photos and illustrations, and 1800 maps and plans.

I first became interested in workhouses while researching my family history. I discovered that my great-great-grandfather had died in a workhouse and that his death had been registered by the matron. I also became fascinated by the buildings after seeing an old Victorian Ordnance Survey map of the town where I then lived. At the edge of town was a huge hexagonal shape which dwarfed everything in the area. Eager to discover more, I visited the local libraries but found that they had precious little information about the large and fearsome building which had stood there for the best part of a century.

This web site, which began life at the start of 2000, is the result of my researches and visits to hundreds of former workhouse sites across the British Isles, from Truro to Thurso, and from Dover to Donegal. All this work has been done entirely in my spare time and is totally self-funded. Apart from compiling this web site, I've written a number of books and articles on the subject, as well as contributing to numerous radio and TV programmes, such as Radio 4's Making History and Tracing Your Roots, and BBC TV's Heir Hunters, Who Do You Think You Are?, Coming Home, Timeshift, Servants: The True Story of Life Below Stairs, Britain's Oldest Family Businesses and 24 Hours in the Past. I also regularly present talks on the subject — more information on the separate talks page.

Some of my on-screen contributions can be viewed on YouTube by following the links below:

Quite separate from my historical researches, I have written several pieces for the stage including Steam Radio (an affectionate parody of Brief Encounter) and Making Ends Meet (set in the world's most unsuccesful dating agency).

In 2014, I launched a major new website, providing information on the 1000s of varied establishments that became home for the nation's children.

In 2015, I had the honour of being awarded with the Society of Genealogists' prestigious 'Certificate of Recognition' for my 'dedication in compiling extensive information on workhouses and children's homes and making it widely available.' The award was presented by Dr Nick Barratt in conjunction with my talk 'Welfare before the Welfare State' at Westminster, part of the parliamentary 'Festival of Freedoms'.

Receiving my SoG award from Dr Nick Barratt.

At Gressenhall workhouse with Mary Berry for BBC TV's Who Do You Think You Are?.

At Bristol workhouse with Neil Kinnock for BBC Wales' 'Coming Home'.

At York workhouse with Una Stubbs for BBC TV's Who Do You Think You Are?.

At Neath workhouse with Michael Sheen on BBC Wales' 'Coming Home'.

With John Humphrys for BBC Wales' Coming Home.

With Joanna Toye for BBC4's Britain's Oldest Family Businesses.

On location with Sam Womack for BBC TV's Who Do You Think You Are?.


A great number of people have contributed in numerous ways to this project and I'd like to say a very big thank you to you all. One person who deserves particular mention is Kathryn Morrison at English Heritage whose trail-blazing work both educated and inspired me.

This web site is dedicated to the memory of my father,
Harold Leslie Higginbotham,

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