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Belford, Northumberland

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Up to 1834

No information.

After 1834

Belford Poor Law Union formally came into existence on 19th November 1836. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 35 in number, representing its 34 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):

Northumberland: Adderstone, Bamburgh, Bamburgh Castle, Beadnell, Belford (2), Bradford, Budle, Burton, Chathill, Detchant, Easington, Easington Grange, Elford, Ellingham, Elwick, Fleetham, Glororum, Hoppen, Lucker, Middleton, Mouson, Newham, Newstead, Outchester, Preston, Ratchwood, Shaston, Spindleton, Sunderland, Swinhoe, Tughall, Warrenford, Warrenton.
Durham: Ross.

The population falling within the union at the 1831 census had been 6,422 with parishes and townships ranging in size from Chathill (population 30) to Belford itself (402). The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1834-36 had been £2,326 or 7s.3d per head of the population.

Belford Union workhouse was built in 1838-9 at the south side of West Street in Belford. The workhouse location and layout are shown on the 1922 map below, by which time it had become known as Belford Poor Law Institution

Belford workhouse site, 1922.

The main building was a modest single-storey T-shaped structure accommodating up to thirty inmates.

Belford main building from the west, 2001.
© Peter Higginbotham.

A separate infirmary block was erected to the east of the main building.

Belford infirmary block from the north-west, 2001.
© Peter Higginbotham.

Belford from the from the north-west, 2001.
© Peter Higginbotham.

In 2001, the premises were being used as a social services day centre. However, the buildings have now all been demolished.




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.


  • Bowen, J (2005) 'A Poor Little House...' - The Story of Belford Union Workhouse and its people from 1836 to 1930 (Writers Printshop, Belford). [An excellent account of the story of one of England's most northerly unions and smallest workhouses. 248 pages, with many illustrations, extracts from original documents and records etc. More details.]


  • None.

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