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Boston Union Workhouse

Following the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act Boston Union was declared 6th September 1836. 

During the 3 years preceding the formation of the Union in 1837, the total average annual expenditure on the poor was about 17,000, but it has since been reduced to about 14,000 per annum. The Board of Guardians meet every alternate Saturday, 5 of them are elected yearly for Boston, 2 each for Frieston, Kirton, Leake, Silsey, Sutterton, Swineshead & Wrangle, & 1 for each of the other 20 parishes. 
Source: White Directory 1856 - p 273/4
Submitted by Betty Longbottom

Boston Poor Law Union comprised the Parishes of Algarkirk, Amber Hill, Great Beats, Little Beats, Bennington, Bicker, Boston, Great Brand End Plot, Little Brand End Plot, Brothertoft, Butterwick, Carrington, Copping Syke, Dogdyke, Drainage Marsh,  Ferry Corner Plot, Fishtoft, Fosdyke, Frampton, Freiston, The Friths, Frithville, Gibbet Hills, Hall Hills, Harts Grounds, Kirton, Langriville, Leake, Leverton, Mown Rakes, North Forty Foot Bank, Pelhams Lands, Pepper Gowt Pot, Royalty Farm, Seven Acres, Shuff Fenn, Sibsey, Simon Weir, Skirbeck, Skirbeck Quarter, Lands South of the Witham, Sutterton, Swineshead, Thornton-le-Fen, Westville, Wigtoft, Wrangle and Wyberton.

The Union Workhouse is a large brick building, with a neat stone front, on Skirbeck Rd, near the south east side of the town. It was built in 1837, at the cost of 8000, upon 4 acres of land called Friar's pasture, purchased at the cost of 1000. It has accommodations for 450 paupers, but its average number of inmates is about 300. It had 169 inmates in 1841, & 377 in 1851, when the census was taken. John George Calthrop esq, is the union clerk & supt.reg. The Rev Frederick Firman, MA, is chaplain, & Mr W S & Mrs Greenwood are master & matron of the Workhouse.
Source: White Directory 1856 - p 273/4
Submitted by Betty Longbottom

George Gilbert Scott (1811-1878) the renowned architect, designed the Boston Union Workhouse on the Skirbeck Road. It was built in 1837 using brick with stone facing, and cost 8,000. The buildings, which could accommodate 350 inmates, comprised an entrance block with archway leading to the accommodation ranges, and an Infirmary to the rear. Later extensions provided accommodation for 490 inmates by 1892.

Henry Bates, Clerk to the Guardians and Assessment Committee
William Henry Smith, Medical Officer
John Henry Speedey, Master of Workhouse
Mrs Speedy, Matron of Workhouse
Thomas Benjamin Hewitt, Schoolmaster
Miss Effie Wells, Schoolmistress
Source: Kelly's Directory 1892
L.V. Brimblecombe, Master of Poor Law Institution                   
Source: Kelly's Directory 1930

The Board of Guardians met every alternate Saturday at the Workhouse for the Union "Board Day".

Letter sent from an Inmate in Boston Workhouse
"When I was a child and became orphaned in 1916, along with several brothers and sisters, I was deposited at that 'place' in Skirbeck Road then known as the workhouse, or Poor law Institution. And a more heartless, cold, inhuman place for parentless children to live in is hard to imagine. In the children's section the regime was unfeeling and harsh, the building was prison-like.   
I remember the flagstone floor of our living room (which we children sometimes had to wash), the playground, or exercise yard, also surfaced with flagstones, enclosed by a high brick wall.
We were always hungry, a condition somewhat relieved when the boys of nine years old upwards graduated to the men's quarters, where there were better opportunities to leave the dining hall with slices of bread up one's jumper, to be augmented after dark by slipping out of the bathroom window into the garden and returning with carrots, turnips, apple, pears etc. What a tucking we often had in our dormitory. If you've read any escape stories you will know what I mean!
To return to the beginning. In the first few weeks of my incarceration the harshness hit me so hard (I was six at the time) that I ran away (or shall I say escaped) and made the journey of nine miles back to the old family home at Wigtoft.
That did not have a happy outcome, so my next escape was in the direction of Freiston Shore. Another failure. After that I just had to grin and bear it, but forever after when I think of my life in the workhouse I think also of Wormwood Scrubs, Colditz, The Lubianka, Oliver Twist - they all go together. "
Source: Sent in by Janet Corney

The remainder of the Boston Union Workhouse buildings are now owned by Lincoln Heritage Trust. 

Useful Links
Link to Boston Workhouse

Lincolnshire Archives, St Rumbold Street, Lincoln, LN2 5AB.
The Grimsby records are at the North Lincolnshire Archives in Grimsby.

Page updated March 12, 2008
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