Ruthin Poor Law Union was formed on 1st March, 1837. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 24 in number, representing its 21 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):
Denbighshire: Aberwheler (Bodfary Parish), Clocaenog Isa Ucha, Derwen, Efenechtyd, Gyffylliog, Llanarmon (2), Llanbedr Dyffryn Clwyd, Llandegla, Llandyrnog, Llanelidan, Llanfair dyffryn Clwyd, Llanferras, Llanfurog, Llangwyfan, Llangynhafal, Llanhaidar in Kinmereh (2), Llanrhydd, Llanychan, Llanynys, Nantglyn, Ruthin (2).
The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 16,019 with parishes ranging in size from Llanrhydd (population 97) to Llanhaidar in Kinmerch (2,066). The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1834-36 had been £10,005 or 12s.6d. per head of the population.
Ruthin Union workhouse was erected in 1838 at the north side of Llanrhydd Street to the east of Ruthin. The Poor Law Commissioners authorised an expenditure of £6,050 on construction of the building which was intended to accommodate 200 inmates. The site location and layout are shown on the 1910 map below.
The workhouse design followed the popular cruciform or "square" layout with separate accommodation wings for the different classes of inmate radiating from a central hub, where the master and matron's quarters were located.
A new infirmary was erected at the south-east of the workhouse in 1914-15. On its completion, the building was lent for use as an auxiliary military Red Cross Hospital.
In 1930, the establishment was taken over by Denbighshire County Council and was redesignated as a Public Assistance Institution, known as Rhyddfan. It continued in use as an old people's home until its closure and demolition in the late 1960s. The site is now a school sports' field. The 1915 infirmary became Ruthin Hospital and is still in operation.
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.
- Denbighshire Record Office, Ruthin Gaol, 46 Clwyd Street, Ruthin, Denbighshire LL15 1HP. Virtually no records survive — it is said they were all destroyed in the 1960s by an overzealous Social Services before the Record Office was established. Only holdings are: Guardians' minute books (1837-44); Financial statements (1866-7); PLC order (1837).
- Higginbotham, Peter The Workhouse Encyclopedia (2014, The History Press)
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