Union Workhouse in Salford

Carrying on from my Carey Family, Elizabeth Carey my grandmother who was born in the Union workhouse in Salford, just added some information on this.

After 1834

The edicts of the new Poor Law of 1834 met with considerable opposition in many northern manufacturing areas, both from the workers who had failed to gain the vote under the 1832 Reform Bill, and also from the rate-payers who would have to finance the system. Salford, in fact, became a centre of resistance and a Salford Anti Poor Law Movement was formed, led by the Chartist, RJ Richardson.

The Salford Poor Law Union finally received its official declaration from 12th July 1838. Even after the Union was formed, its 18-strong Board of Guardians representing the four constituent parishes of Salford, Broughton, Pendlebury and Pendleton, refused to co-operate with the Poor Law Commissioners and operate the new law as prescribed. The old and inadequate buildings at Greengate and Pendleton continued in use until a new Union workhouse finally opened in 1853. Greengate appears then to have been closed down, and Pendleton used to accommodate the elderly.

The New Road Workhouse

The new Union workhouse was erected at a cost of £16,500 in 1851-53 to the south-west of Salford, sandwiched between Eccles New Road and the Manchester to Liverpool railway. Designed by Messrs Pennington and Jarvis it was intended to accommodate 300 inmates. A contemporary report described it as follows:

The establishment, which consists of five detached portions, is built of brick with stone dressing, and is in the Elizabethan style. The front portion of it, which is to be used as union offices and receiving wards, is two storeys high. The front of the buildings has stone facings. Passing through the centre of the front building and the court-yard, crossing a space of some 50 feet, to be laid out ornamentally, the main building is approached, which has an arcade entrance of polished Yorkshire stone, surmounted by a trellis battlement, cut and moulded. The front of this building extends to the length of 400 feet, and has a wing at each end, which comes forward from the main building 60 feet. The central portion is three, and the wings two stories high: the roofs are high-pitched, and have projecting gables and carved barge boards. On the centre of the building there rises a clock tower, with an octagon shaft. Last week’s Manchester Courier contains a pretty full description of the whole buildings and of the general arrangements. The grounds round the main building are to be laid out in yards for each class of paupers, the aged and infirm and the able-bodied of both sexes. In the yards for the latter class work. shops have been erected, which comprise, for women, washhouses, drying-houses, mending-rooms, and clean linen stores; for men, there are rooms provided for tailors, shoemakers, carpenters, painters, oakum-picking, &c. ; and incorporated with the workshops for each sex is a cell for refractory paupers. In the men’s yard there is a deadhouse and post-mortem examination room. There are large airing grounds for boys and girls, with suitable workshops for each sex. To the right of the main building, at about 100 feet, are three erections, the infirmary, the building appropriated for idiots, and the fever hospital. To each of these buildings, which are two stories high. there are yards attached for each sex. Between them are washhouses for linen used in infectious disease. The front boundary of the buildings is to be inclosed by a dwarf wall, with iron palisadings, and the yards and garden are to be fenced in with high walls. The whole has a southerly aspect, and stands upon 7 acres of ground, 5 covered by buildings and yards. Ventilation in the various apartments is effected by means of perforated glass in the top compartments of the windows And the whole establishment will be heated with hot-water pipes. It is expected that possession will be taken in September next.

The location and layout of the new workhouse is shown on the 1888 map below:

Salford Union workhouse site at New Eccles Road, 1888.

The main entrance to the workhouse was at the centre where the porter’s lodge and offices faced onto the street. To the rear, were clothes stores, food stores, kitchen and dining hall. Men were accommodated at the west of the workhouse and women at the east. On the men’s side, the old and infirm were placed at the south nearest to the road. The able-bodied were housed to the rear where there were workshops, stone cells, piggeries and a bakehouse. On the women’s side were a wash house and laundry as well as the Master’s house and garden. Further to the east were blocks for old and infirm women and a probationary ward for children. Casual wards lay at the far eastern end together with a row of stone-breaking cells. There was also a covered labour-test shed where men not resident in the workhouse worked during the day in return for food and a small amount of money.

A detailed plan of the workhouse is shown below (click on the image for a larger version):

Salford workhouse plan

Salford Union workhouse (left of centre) from the west.

In April 1880, new casual wards were opened which adopted the then new “cellular” design, as reported in the Local Government Chronicle:

New casual wards, on the cellular system, have been opened this week at the above union workhouse, from designs by Mr. H. Pinchbeck, King-street, Manchester. These wards are the fourth built on the cellular system, and are each fitted with a wood bed, well lighted and ventilated. The doors are strong, and secured with a double lock on the outside. Food doors are inserted, and inspection slides, which enable the attendant to see every portion of the cell without opening the door. To each is fixed a label apparatus, and by turning a handle from the inside a label is thrown out, and the gong placed in the corridor of the administrative department is struck, calling the attention of the attendant, and indicating the cell where he is required. On one side of the building, running the full length, are three rooms, in which mills will be placed for grinding corn, with connecting rods and handles fixed inside the cells, which the vagrants will have to turn and grind a given quantity of corn before leaving the building. On the first floor are the women’s cells, eighteen in number, seven being double, for women with children, approached by a wide flight of stone steps, with waiting, bath, and storerooms, and fitted in every respect like the male wards. All the cells throughout are lighted by windows and by gas brackets made purposely, fixed in the corridor, apertures being left in the walls, covered with fine wire, through which the gaslight is admitted. All the cell windows have been designed to open and close simultaneously from the corridor by the attend ant, and under his control only. All the floors, except in the administrative department, are laid with cement concrete. Great care has been taken in thoroughly ventilating the cells and other parts of the building, and the whole building is heated by hot water. The contract price for the whole of the works being £4,840. The building stands on a sloping site, and advantage is taken of this to arrange the basement above the outside ground line. This contains heating cellar, coal cellar, stone rooms, cooking kitchen, disinfecting room, and three work-rooms under the cells, each 45 feet long and 24 feet wide. There are three entrances, that in the centre being for the attendant in charge of the building. The entrance on the left is for male and that on the right for female vagrants. The male vagrants enter a spacious corridor, and pass into a waiting-room 21 feet long and 14 feet wide, thence to the bath-rooms, which are directly opposite. There are two, each containing two baths, and fitted with wash-basins, supplied with hot and cold water. Adjoining the waiting-rooms and opposite the bath-room is a large store-room, where rugs and clothing will be kept. On leaving the bath-rooms, the vagrants pass into the cells. There are 36 for males, which are arranged on each side of a corridor 125 feet in length. The building has been designed with a certain degree of taste. The front and side elevations of the administrative department are faced with bright red stocks, relieved with ornamental bands, and the doors, windows, and porches have stone dressings.

The workhouse closed after the First World War and the building was demolished soon after the abolition of the Board of Guardians in 1930. It was replaced by the three-storey flats of the Langworthy Estate, a large-scale rehousing project, which were officially opened in 1938.


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