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Link back to main ROSSBRET websiteWalsall


Walsall  Workhouse and Poor Law Union 

The Walsall Union Workhouse was erected in 1838, a quarter of a mile from the Town on Pleck Road, from designs by W. Watson, architect who was also the architect for Warwick Union Workhouse. It was built on a Double cruciform plan, and is a large and substantial building in the Elizabethan style, costing 7,600.

It was enlarged in 1842, and again in 1881 and 1903, an adjoining Chapel was erected in 1876 on the corner of Pleck Road with Moat Road. By this time the workhouse could accommodate 464 inmates.

A new Infirmary building with 130 beds was erected in 1896 from designs by Mr. H. E. Lavender, architect. A further extension to the Infirmary was erected 1902 comprising four wards, and the two blocks were linked via a corridor.

The Board of Guardians met each Friday at 10am at "Crescent House" next to the Workhouse. The population of the Union in 1901 was 118,607, area 22,079 acres and the rateable value in 1903 381,329. The Clerk to the Guardians and Assessment Committee at this time was Alfred Hunt Lewis, who was also the Superintendent Registrar. The Collector to the Guardians was Charles Laban. The Walsall Union comprised the parishes of Aldridge, Great Barr, Bentley, Darlaston, Pelsall, Rushall, Walsall Borough and Walsall Foreign.

A three storey building was erected to the rear of the Infirmary in 1926 for use as a Nurses Home, and the following year the Medical Officers House was erected at the corner of Moat Road with Wilbrahim Road. A new entrance to the Infirmary was erected in 1929 with access from Moat Road.

Walsall Union did not provide Cottage Homes for Children, but joined with West Bromwich Union to form the Walsall and West Bromwich School District, the school being erected at Wigmore. It opened on May 1st, 1872 when 56 children were transferred from Walsall Union.

"Lunatics" who could not be cared for in the Workhouse were transferred to the Staffordshire County Asylum at Burntwood, just outside Lichfield, and from 1929 the 54 "idiots and imbeciles" were transferred to the new Great Barr Park Colony.

Following the Local Government Act 1929 the Infirmary was transferred to Local Authority Control and was renamed The Manor Hospital. The Workhouse buildings, under separate administration were renamed Beacon Lodge. It was renamed again in 1950 as St John's Hospital, but in 1957 was merged with The Manor Hospital. 

Many changes have taken place at the Manor Hospital following the National Health Service, and large new buildings have been erected to provide Walsall residents with modern healthcare, some of the older buildings having to be demolished in the process. However, much of the original workhouse survives, and is known as St John's Block within Walsall Manor Hospital. The Medical Officers House now serves the Occupational Health Department. Crescent House, which once accommodated the Board of Guardians is now boarded up and standing derelict.


Workhouses, List of those visited in 1867 With Name of the Workhouse and numbers of  insane, idiotic, and imbecile inmates.
Walsall 6 8 14
Source: 22nd Report of the Commissioners in Lunacy to the Lord Chancellor. Submitted by Alan Longbottom.


Workhouse Staff 1881
John Parrock PRITCHARD Married 48 Chetwynd, Shrops Master of Workhouse
Louisa PRITCHARD Married 34 Atherstone, Warks Matron of Workhouse
William LEAD Unmarried 37 Wolverhampton, Staffs House Porter
Charles EDKINS Unmarried 43 Birmingham, Warks Nurse
Harriet Bickley Unmarried 20 Brownhills, Staffs Nurse
Amelia Mary THOMAS Widow 45 Great Malvern, Worcs Servant Cook
Workhouse Master and Matron 1896
Mr. Cozens Forced to resign due to Wife's Ill Health
Mrs Cozens Ill Health and subsequent death in 1903
Workhouse Staff 1903
Rev. W. Felton Chaplain  
G. M. Fox Medical Officer Died 3rd October 1925
William Totterdell Master of Workhouse Attacked by two Tramps, and subsequently died 1907
Mrs Elsie Totterdell Matron of Workhouse Retired due to Husbands Death.

Link to Photo Album for photographs of Walsall Union Workhouse

Walsall Cemetery

A cemetery for the Town, formed in 1857, is at the Pleck, and covers an area of 13 acres. It has two mortuary Chapels and a keepers lodge, and is under the control of the Town Council. It has now been closed to general interments.

In 1894, the Corporation, as the Urban Sanitary Authority, acting under the Public Health (Interments) Act, laid out a new cemetery at Ryecroft, of about 40 acres, with three Chapels for the Church of England, Catholics, and Nonconformists respectively, and a registrars office.


Records for Walsall Union are held at the Walsall Local Archives, which include Minutes 1836-1839, and Register of Lunatics 1877-1928.
Most of the records which would contain information regarding individuals have not survived.

Walsall Local History Archives
Essex Street
West Midlands
Telephone: 01922 721305 

The standard work on hospitals in the Walsall area is Percy Carpenter's A history of Walsall Hospitals (1838-1998). This is available from Walsall local history at 7.99 plus postage (1.75 1st or 1.40 second.) Cheques or money orders made payable to Walsall MBC (Libraries) please.


Page last updated 12 March, 2008
Copyright Rossbret 2001. All rights reserved.