Llandovery Poor Law Union was formed on 15th December, 1836. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 21 in number, representing its 11 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):
County of Carmarthen:
Conwil Cayo (2), Cylycwm (2), Llanddoysaint (2), Llandingat (3), Llanfair ar y Bryn (2), Llangadock (3), Llansadwrn (2), Llanwrda, Myddfai (2).
County of Brecon Llandulas, Llanwyrtyd.
The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 14,799 with parishes ranging in size from Llandulas (population 159) to Llangadock (2,476). The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1834-36 had been £5,317 or 7s.2d. per head.
The Llandovery Union workhouse was erected at a site to the north of the town in about 1838. The Poor Law Commissioners authorised an expenditure of £3,000 on construction of the building which was to accommodate 120 inmates. The design of the workhouse was based on the popular cruciform or "square" plan with an entrance block facing onto the road at the east. To the rear, accommodation blocks for each class of inmate (male/female, infirm/able-bodied, etc.) radiated from the centre, forming yards between them. The workhouse location and layout are shown on the 1904 map below.
At about 2 a.m. on 25 July 1838, not long before the building work was completed, a fire broke out at the workhouse. Only one wing and the outbuildings were preserved, with most of the remainder needing to be rebuilt. The fire was thought to have been started deliberately, with a reward of £100 being offered by the Guardians for information leading to the conviction of the offenders.
In November 1919, when there were only fourteen inmates in residence, the guardians decided to close the workhouse although the casual ward continued in operation. Land at the south of the workhouse was subsequently donated by the guardians for construction of the Llandovery Cottage Hospital, which opened in 1926.
In 1930, ownership of the workhouse site passed to Carmarthenshire County Council. The majority of the workhouse buildings are believed to have been demolished in 1938. However, the front block, which included the casuals' accommodation, was retained and a council deport created at its rear. After the Second World War, the front block was used for several years as a council-run girls' home then in 1952 became part of the cottage hospital premises. The whole of the former workhouse site is now occupied by Llandovery Hospital and related medical facilities.
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.
- Carmarthenshire Archives Service, Parc Myrddin, Richmond Terrace, Carmarthen, SA31 1HQ. Few local records survive — holdings include: Guardians' minute books (1840-1930); Ledgers (1911-25); 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.