In 1829, Ravenglass, a small seaport and market town in the parish of Muncaster, had a large workhouse where the paupers of Muncaster, Irton, Drigg, and Waberthwaite were lodged and fed at a weekly cost of 1s. 8½d. per head.
Bootle Poor Law Union formally came into being on 12th June 1837. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 16 in number, representing its 12 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):
Bootle (2), Birker and Austhwaite, Corney, Drigg and Carlton, Eskdale and Wasdale, Irton and Santon (2), Millom (2), Muncaster (2), Ulpha, Wabersthwaite, Wickham or Whickham [Whicham], Whitbeck.
Later Additions: Millom Rural (from 1894), Seascale (from 1901).
The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 5,083 — with its parishes ranging in size from Birker and Austhwaite (population 102) to Millom (915) and Bootle itself (737). The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1834-36 had been £1,802 or 7s.1d. per head of the population.
Bootle initially used two small existing workhouses — one at Bootle, which could hold thirty inmates, and one at Millom, which accommodated forty. A new union workhouse was erected in 1856 at the west of Bootle on the road to the railway station. The Bootle site's location and layout can be seen on the 1899 map below.
The main building had an entrance block to the east with a T-shaped corridor-plan main building to its rear. An infirmary block stood the north of the site.
A new casual ward block was erected at the south-east of the workhouse in 1880.
The main workhouse has been demolished but the infirmary block has been converted to a house. The casual ward block is now an industrial unit. Some derelict outbuildings at the north of the workhouse entrance block, possibly the original casual ward, also survive.
- 1881 Census — Bootle Workhouse
- 1914— Master: John N Duerdin; Matron: Emma Duerdin.
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.
- Whitehaven Archive and Local Studies Centre, Scotch Street, Whitehaven, Cumbria CA28 7NL. Relatively few records survive — holdings include: Guardians' minutes (1837-1930); Creed registers (1869-1930); etc.
- Higginbotham, Peter The Workhouse Encyclopedia (2014, The History Press)
Unless otherwise indicated, this page () is copyright Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.