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Talk on workhouse history

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: January 04, 2014

A map of Wolverhampton showing the location of the town's first Workhouse, c.1750

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THE Bilston Historical Society is swiftly off the mark this year with its next meeting, and on Wednesday, 8th January, at The Parish Centre at St Chad's, Connaught Road, Bilston, Dr Chris Upton will be on hand to talk about The Workhouses of Wolverhampton.

Wolverhampton's first workhouse was erected as far back as 1700, at the top of Horseley Fields, and its location can be seen on the adjoining map which was surveyed and drawn up around 1750.

Also, a Parliamentary survey undertaken in 1777 recorded parish workhouses in operation at Bilston (for up to 60 inmates), Willenhall (25) and Wolverhampton (60).

The Wolverhampton Poor Law Union formally came into being on 11th December, 1836, and the first Wolverhampton Union Workhouse was erected between 1836-38 on Bilston Road. Its construction cost around £9,000 and at full capacity it could accommodate 750 of the poorest of the parish.

In 1867, Wolverhampton was the subject of one of a series of articles in the medical journal The Lancet investigating conditions in the country's workhouse infirmaries, and although the report was generally positive, it also included a number of critical comments, such as many of the wards were overcrowded, the kitchens and the system of food distribution were inadequate, and the reception and tramp wards were very bad.

The details of the history of Workhouses in Wolverhampton is fascinating and Dr Chris Upton will be elaborating further during his talk.

Visitors pay £2 at the door and the meeting will commence at 7.15pm.

For further details contact 01902 408727 or 01902 496306.

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