Link back to main ROSSBRET websiteHam


Link back to main ROSSBRET websiteHam


West Ham & East Ham Workhouses

Vestry House (now a local history museum, local studies library and borough archives for London Borough of Waltham Forest) was built in 1730 as a workhouse and vestry for the parish of Walthamstow. It was used a workhouse until 1840 when the inmates were transferred to the new Union workhouse in Leyton.
Submitted by Anna Smith, Museum Assistant.
Vestry House, Walthamstow.

Parish of East Ham - Heigham's Charity 132

William Heigham of East Ham, by his will bearing the date 28th
Source: Further Report of the Commissioners for Inquiring Concerning Charities. Vol 29 out of 32 Volumes. 1834. County of Essex Reports 111-268
Submitted by Alan Longbottom

West and East Ham Union Workhouse and Poor Law Union

The Union contains 7 parishes & a population of 25,000. The guardians meet every Friday at Stratford.

Post Office Directory 1846 - p.74
Submitted by Betty Longbottom  

West Ham Poor Law Schools.

A most profitable forenoon was spent visiting the scattered Homes under the control of the West Ham Board of Guardians--a union whence a large number of juveniles have in past years been sent to Canada. As the result of the remarkable change in public sentiment as to the duty of the state to the children, has come the determination to afford children under the poor law with surroundings as nearly as possible like the normal home life of children in their natural homes.

 From the clerk to the guardians of the parish of West Ham, I feel indebted for a clearer insight into the various existing policies of the Local Government Board in respect to the care and training of children in that important and extensive borough.

Provision is made for the greater number of poor law children by 
(1) boarding out the children with the working and middle classes; 
(2) barrack schools where all the children live in one large building; 
(3) village homes in which the children and their attendants form the whole community;
(4) cottage homes which are practically a modification of the village homes, with the advantage of limited intercourse with the outside world; 
(5) scattered homes and small houses taken in various parts of the district in the life of which the children take a natural part.

Mr. Smith, in his most interesting pamphlet, gives his experience as clerk to the West Ham Guardians in the relation to the system and training of their children. He stated: "That good results," under the system just
described, "can only be described as remarkable. Not only has the health of the children improved and epidemic disease been stamped out, but the success of the children in elementary day schools, Sunday school and social circle has far exceeded all expectations. The children have grown up as individual units, able to give a reason for their existence and fully able to rub shoulders with the normal child and hold their own."

In 1912 there were two thousand and forty-eight children under the control of the West Ham Guardians. The children were being trained and cared for in various Homes under the administration of the Board. To this number should be added six thousand six hundred and sixty in receipt of outdoor relief,
making in all a total of nine thousand seven hundred and eight for whose protection the Board was directly responsible.

During 1912, an arrangement was made with Mr. J.W.C. Fegan whereby that gentleman took charge of a few of their boys and placed them on his Farm Training School at Goudhurst preparatory to sending them to Canada.

For many years a limited number of boys and girls have emigrated to the Dominion under the authority of the Board. In 1909, however, a decision was reached that no child under the age of fourteen years should be sent overseas, "owing," it was said, "to the inadequate educational facilities
in the farming districts of the Dominion." This opinion was doubtless come to owing to the neglect of those in whose care the children were placed, to send them to school in accordance with the provisions of the indentures.
However, Mr. Smith reported, "from reports received there is every reason to believe that they will do well in life."

The reports of the officials of this Department show that in the majority of cases West Ham children in Canada have, as stated, turned out satisfactory colonists.

Source: Juvenile Immigration 1914-15, Department of the Interior, Canada, Report of Mr. G. Bogue Smart, Chief Inspector of British Immigrant Children and Receiving Homes, for the year ending March 31st, 1915. In National Archives of Canada PAAP JV 7282 C4C3.
Submitted by Marj Kohli


Workhouses, List of those visited in 1867 With Name of the Workhouse and numbers of  insane, idiotic, and imbecile inmates.
West Ham 24 21 45
Source: 22nd Report of the Commissioners in Lunacy to the Lord Chancellor. Submitted by Alan Longbottom.


Essex Record Office
Wharf Road, 
CM12 6YT. 
Telephone (01245) 244644

Page updated March 12, 2008 by Rossbret