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Hunslet Poor Law Union and Workhouse

Hunslet Union
The English Poor Law and its Administration
The Poor Law 1601
The Parish Workhouse
Hunslet Workhouse dietary 1761
Poor Law Reform Act 1834
Inscription on Memorial Tablet
Board of Guardians 1900

1 L 3 Hunslet Union - 
Descr of new workhouse Infirmary at Rothwell 1903
Hunslet Union - New Workhouse and Infirmary Rothwell Haigh Description and Opening Souvenir 1st October 1903. 24 pp + plan
Frontispiece - Plan drawing J H Morton - Architect - South Shields Opened by John Farrer esq - Chairman of the Board of Guardians

facing p 2 Entrance Hall
facing p 3 Dining Hall
facing p 6 Infirmary Blocks
facing p 7 An Infirmary Ward
facing p 10 The Old Workhouse
facing p 11 Old Infirmary and Schools
facing p 14 Kitchen
facing p 15 Laundry (wash-house)
facing p 16 Old Workhouse Dining Hall
facing p 17 A Dormitory in Old Workhouse
facing p 20 Nurse's Sitting Room
facing p 21 Lunacy Block

p 3- The English Poor Law and its Local Administration.
The interference of the State in the province of the Poor Law was in the first instance of a purely negative character.
It took the form of measures, not for the benefit of the poor, but for the repression of mendicancy. These enactments belonged to a time when the positive duty of relief was in the hands of the Church, which devoted a portion of its ample resources to the support of the poor by its own agencies.

The view of charity fostered by the Church, which saw in parting with superfluities in alms-giving for its own sake without regard to consequences, a work well pleasing to God, doubtless caused the stream of charitable gifts to flow copiously, but determining as it practically did the mode in which these gifts were distributed, it deadened the sense of personal responsibility in ever-widening circles of the population the result being an increase of pauperism and an aggravation of the very evil that had to be cured.

The number of persons living in idleness and beggary, although perfectly capable of work, increased to such an extent that even the funds of the Church were insufficient for their relief. Beggars grown unaccustomed to work began to roam about the country asking for alms as soon as they ceased to find support at home, and became rogues and vagabonds who endangered public order and safety as well as the property and lives of the citizens.

The State was therefore obliged to interpose in the public interest. The main object throughout was to protect society against the swarms of beggars. 

The decay of the Church and the decline of the ecclesiastical influence reduced the means available for the assistance of the poor, while at the same time the demands upon these means were increased through the abolition of the villeinage and consequent cessation of the duty which that system had imposed upon the lords towards their necessitous labourers. The particular provisions of the numerous laws passed by the rulers of the country up to the time of Henry VIII were purely of a repressive nature. The secularization of the Church property by Henry VIII from 1532-1539 threw on the State the further obligation of taking measures for the regulation of poor relief. Henry attempted to make individual parishes responsible for the maintenance of their poor, not by levying rates for their relief but by -
"gathering and procuring voluntary alms of the good Christian people with boxes every Sunday and holiday or otherwise.

In 1572 the punishment on first conviction as a rogue and vagabond was whipping and a burning through the right ear, a second offence involved punishment as a felon, and a third involved death and confiscation of property. It is not surprising though that the laws enforcing these penalties remained without practical effect, for even in that age the penalties were too barbarous to be enforced.

It was not until the latter end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth that an attempt was made to put the system of the relief of the poor on a rational and common-sense basis.

The Poor Law 1601

The Poor Law of Elizabeth "An Act for the Relief of the Poor" 43 Elizabeth cap 2 (1601) consolidated and gave effect to the  provisions of several previous enactments. It consists of 20 sections, of which only the first have a general application, while the others deal with particular questions.

The 1st section provides that Overseers of the Poor shall be annually nominated for each parish by the Justices. Besides the Churchwardens, from two to four substantial householders according to the size of the parish, are to act in that capacity
Their duty is :- 
1 - to take measures, with the consent of two Justices, for setting to work children whose parents are unable to maintain them.

2 - Also to set to work persons who, having no means of support do nothing to earn a livelihood.

3 - To raise weekly, or otherwise, by taxation of every inhabitant and occupier, such sums as they shall think fit.
a) For obtaining a convenient stock of flax, hemp, wool and other necessaries for the poor to work upon.
b) For relieving the lame, impotent, blind, and others, being poor and unable to work.
c) For putting out poor children as apprentices.

For these objects the Overseers are to hold meetings once a month at least, and at the end of the year are to prepare a statement of account.

The 2nd section gives power to the Justices, where a parish cannot afford to bear the burden of its own poor, to raise as a rate in aid from other parishes in the same hundred, or even in the same county. Under the authority of the Justices, the Overseers are to collect the rate and to distrain upon persons who neglect to pay. If the distraint is without result the Justices may imprison the defaulters in the county gaol.

Under Section 3, poor children may be bound apprentices, if boys till their 24th year; if girls, till their 21st year or their marriage.

By Section 4 the Churchwardens and Overseers are empowered , with the consent of the Lords of the Manor, to erect on waste lands, houses for persons incapable of work, and to charge the cost to the parish, the hundred, or the county. 

Section 5 provides for Appeals to the Quarter Sessions against  the rate.

Section 6 regulates the legal responsibility of maintaining parents, grandparents and children.

The above are the essential provisions of the Law and we may summarise the chief points in which it amended the previous system. Poor relief is recognised in principle as a public concern. It is to be administered by individual parishes through Overseers, who are to be appointed and constantly controlled by the Justices. 

The burden of relief is distributed by taxation. In the first instance however, the nearest of kin are made responsible for the maintenance of their relations, and in case a single parish is overburdened, the neighbouring parishes may be called upon to contribute proportionately.
The persons to be relieved are divided into 3 classes.
a) Children
b) Able-bodied
c) Infirm

The kind of assistance consists, in the case of children, in apprenticing them; in the case of the able-bodied, by setting them to work (which they must perform under penalty for refusal) and in the case of the infirm, in maintaining them, with power to place them in poor houses. (The erection of poor houses is only permissive)

The principles laid down in the Act of Elizabeth could only be brought gradually into operation. The administration of the existing Laws at that period was very defective. In the writings of that time we often meet with complaints that the poor rates were not regularly paid, and that sufficient materials for the employment of the able-bodied were not provided.

We have briefly referred to the Act of Elizabeth to show the system of poor relief adopted 300 years ago, because it was undoubtedly due to the defects in this Act of Parliament, or rather the misadministration of it, that legislation by 
William and Mary in 1691 made some attempt to reform that part of the Act of Elizabeth with regard to the employment of the able-bodied. About 1646 it was suggested by a writer, as a remedy for existing difficulties, that Workhouses be erected in towns, villages, and other suitable places.

Here we meet for the 1st time with the Workhouse which has played so important a part in the English Poor Law Relief System as since developed. The proposal seems to have met with great favour, for several writers and well-known men of the period wrote in favour of such provision being made. It was not until 1697, however, that a Workhouse was erected at Bristol, under a special Act of Parliament, which formed the several parishes in Bristol into a Union having a common Workhouse, and the management being vested in a corporation appointed for the purpose. The good results which followed in that city, especially in the diminution of mendicancy, led to the adoption of a similar measure in 1703 in Worcester, in 1707 in Plymouth, Norwich in 1711, and Hull, Exeter and other places shortly afterwards. After the Workhouse had been successfully tried in particular places, the legislature passed an Act of Parliament in 1723 ordering that parishes should be entitled, singly or in combination, to build, buy, or hire Workhouses, and that any poor person refusing to enter one of such houses should "not be entitled to ask or receive collection or relief"

The introduction of Workhouses or industrial houses as they were sometimes called at this period met with some opposition. Defoe especially attacked it. He pointed out the effect of the competition of the industrial houses with the trades already established. He said "If they will employ the poor in some manufacture which was not made in England before, or not bought with some manufacture made here before, then they offer something extraordinary, but to set poor people at work on the same thing that other poor people were employed on before, and at the same time not to increase the consumption, is giving to one what you take away from another".

There is no doubt very great improvement in Poor Law administration followed the introduction of Workhouses. This is strongly  indicated by the steady decrease in the Poor Rate in spite of the increase of the population. The expenditure for poor relief which in 1698 was estimated at 819,000 had by 1750 sunk to 619,000.

It is interesting here to note that after this period abuses appear to have crept into the administration of the Poor Law, and we find a retrograde movement. Expenditure increased largely. 
In 1785 it was 1,912,000 in 1803 4,077,891 and in 1817 it was 7,870,801 or nearly as much as it is at the present day (1903).

The Parish Workhouse

It was not until 1760 that the Township of Hunslet decided to build a Workhouse. Before this date the Overseers hired a Workhouse for the able-bodied poor. Carr Hall, a house still standing on Hunslet Moor-side, is said to have been used for this purpose. However on the 17th March 1760, a Meeting of several Proprietors of Land of the Township of Hunslet was held at the sign of the Organ (now the Wellington Hotel). Thirteen gentlemen were present and it was unanimously agreed to erect a Workhouse for the benefit and more convenient relief and employment of the poor. 

The entry in the old minute book, in the possession of the Guardians, goes on to say that "several plans being produced for the said purpose one was pitched upon and jointly approved by Charles Brandling and Joseph Bilton esquires, Lords of the Manor, who were generously disposed to grant a piece of land and to make a free gift of all bricks towards completing the said building. The building does not appear to have cost much money. It was - finished under the care and by the directions of Mr Richard Markham and Mr Thomas Bradley, and they appear to have paid the bricklayers, Robert Fenteman and Allen Longley 62 - Thomas Proctor the joiner 78 and Wrigglesworth the stone cutter 42.

The House was opened on May Day 1761, and at a meeting held on the 28th April, among the provisions ordered to be bought were ten 12 gallon casks of beer of Mr Arthington. Afterwards beer was brewed on the premises, as we find an iron pott for brewing and washing was ordered to be purchased. 

In answer to an advertisement in the - Leeds Intelligencer - William Matthews was appointed Master of the House at a salary of 12 per annum, to be increased by forty shillings if he proved satisfactory. He was allowed to "bring his wife into the House at bed and board, in consideration of which she is to act as Mistress of the House and to overlook the brewings, washings, and keep all decent and in order in the kitchen.

26 people came into the House, 5 men, 12 women and 9 children. In addition to these there were 11 out pensioners, who appear to have received from 2/- to 5/- a month as relief.

p 8 The diet ordered by the Trustees was a fairly generous one. We are enabled to give the diet in force at Hunslet in 1761, together with the one in operation at the Leeds Workhouse in
1788, so that the reader may compare them. 

Hunslet Workhouse Dietary 1761
To Breakfast To Dinner To Supper
Fryday Milk porridge Pudding or dumplings Milk porridge with treakle sauce, with a small piece of bread and butter or occasionally a pye of
broaken meat.

Saturday Milk porridge Drink porridge & bread Milk porridge

Sunday Milk porridge Boyld beef or mutton Broth with bread & beer, pottatoes or greens, broth served first.

Monday Broth or Milk Rice milk and broaken Milk porridge porridge meat with drink 

Tuesday Milk porridge Bread, Cheese & drink Milk porridge
N.B. Instead of the above, 2 calves' hearts
boyld with 2lbs bacon

Wednesday Milk porridge Dumplins with sauce Milk porridge and old milk

Thursday Water porridge Beef or Mutton,boyled Milk porridge with pottatoes or greens

Leeds Workhouse Dietary January 6th 1788

Breakfast Every day Milk pottage and bread

Dinner Sunday Mutton & broth, bread & beer
Monday Rice milk, bread & beer
Tuesday Dumplings and beer
Wednesday Bread, cheese and beer
Thursday Beef and broth, bread & beer
Friday Rice milk, bread & beer
Saturday Drink pottage & bread

Supper Sunday/Thurs Bread & Broth, or Broth & Beer Other days Milk pottage and bread

The proportion of bread for each meal is - One wheat cake, weight 3 lbs, divided into 8 parts viz. 2 of 7 oz for men 4 of 6 oz for women and 2 of 5 oz for children.

The proportion of flesh meat is 16 lbs of beef or mutton for 20 persons on an average.

The proportion of 1 lb of rice and 10 oz of sugar with pimento, salt and flour for 20 persons on an average.

The proportion of 14 oz of paste each dumpling for adults and 8 oz for children.

The proportion of one gallon of milk for pottage for 20 persons

The proportion of One-third of a quart (ale measure or beer at each dinner (Saturday excepted)

The proportion of 6 oz of cheese for adults and 4 oz for children. With full liberty to adults to exchange their portion of beer for bread or bread for beer.

The Leeds Workhouse, on the above date, 6th Jan 1788 had 152 inmates viz. 49 men, 65 women and 38 boys and girls.

p 10 The Committee appointed to govern the Hunslet Workhouse appears to have consisted of 8 Trustees, a Provider who was appointed for six months, a Treasurer who was appointed for 12 months, and 2 Overseers.
Mr Peacop was the first Provider, and Mr Stoney was the first Treasurer. The Committee met at 3 in the afternoon.

The education of the children in the Workhouse had the attention of the Committee at an early date, for we find that an infirm inmate named Susannah Walker appointed to teach the children to read.

Evidently, sheets were in those days not in frequent use in the House, for we find the Provider is ordered to obtain a couple for the use of the House. Fires could be had for the asking by any sick person in the infirmary, night and morning; in winter all day. Evidently the liberal diet allowed by the Committee did not meet with the approval of some of the inmates. It was ordered that if Elizabeth Walker (an old woman of 72) will not sup no broth of mutton at night, it be kept till the next morning for breakfast.

The Trustees appear to have their time at the meetings to giving orders for admission to the House, sending people out, granting cloth and linen for clothes, giving out pensions, and ordering assessments to be made. They do not appear to have attended the meetings very well after the first few months, for we find resolutions dealing with the non-attendance passed by those present at meetings. The first Master of the House appears to have stayed 2 years. On account of the bad attendance of the Trustees he appears to have done things which ought to have been done by the Trustees themselves. There are several resolutions recorded defining the Master's duties.

The Master of this House has no power to execute an Indenture on the part of the Township, but may witness and indenture.
Again - That the Master do at all times make a Minute in his memorandum book of all such necessaries as may be wanted for the use of the House in order that the gentlemen of the Committee may consider whether thye be really useful and wanting, and that the Overseers and Providors do receive orders from the Committee
for purchasing the same, and not from the Master of this House.

The Workhouse was evidently not so well built, for the same bricklayer who built the House is ordered to - examine and mend this House, within a year of its building.

A cow is also ordered to be purchased, and the Master ordered to get a rattan trap made for one shilling.

The Present Board of Guardians pursue a generous policy in regard to granting recommendations to the various Convalescent Homes in the district. Many poor people are sent away each year for the benefit of their health. A hundred and fifty years ago the same generous policy was practiced by the Committee having charge of the Old House. The Overseers are ordered to - give Anthony Brook 10/- to send his son to Ilkley Wells, and to give him no more pay until the 1st day of October. Anthony had only 2/- per month from the Overseers; evidently he had to starve whilst his son was being cured. The following year Brook's son again went to Ilkley Wells, and again the old man's pay was stopped for nearly 4 months. How he lived in the meantime there is no record.

Dr Bullough was the first Medical Officer to the Poor House.
On 29th July 1762, it was ordered that he - be appointed to attend this House as apothecary and surgeon, and to give medicines or do anything that is needful to any person in this House for which he is to be paid the sum of five pounds. He was reappointed each year by special resolution. He held office for many years. Nine years after his appointment his salary was raised to eight guineas, but again reduced to five guineas four years later. In 1769, he acted as a Trustee, but we are sorry to say he attended the meetings badly. The Overseers, the same year, gave him three pounds ten shillings in order to hire a substitute, as he was drawn for the Militia.

The Overseers were doubtless a very enlightened body of men though perhaps a bit faddy, for the doctor was ordered to -
Provide some sea water for the use of this House - What it was to be used for is not stated.

The work provided for the inmates about this time appears to have been spinning and carding wool, weaving woolsey, cropping cloth and grinding corn. Economy evidently was strictly observed, as the Master is ordered at Christmas 1762 to buy - two pair of tongs at a sale - In September 1763, an advertisement was inserted in the Intelligencer for a fresh Master, but there is no record as to who was appointed. Probably he was not married, for shortly after, Ann Stokes came into the House - to be as Mistress at three pounds per year.

Gentle compulsion was evidently necessary to get the inmates to Church, as it was found necessary to order that - All people of this House who are able to walk go to some place of protestant publick worship every Sunday or to have no dinner.

The Settlement Acts were strictly administered by the Committee. There are many entries Minutes dealing with people who became chargeable and did not belong to the parish - for instance - Ordered that the Overseers agree with a carrier to convey Sarah Smith and her two children to Liverpool, and find them  meat and pay for their passage to Ireland.

In those days the poor were required to reside in the parish in which they were settled, and change of residence was repressed as much as possible. Poor persons removing out of one parish into another were liable to be sent back within forty days. They generally fortified themselves with a - certificate - signed by the Overseers and Two Magistrates to save inconvenience and annoyance before removing.

We append a copy of such a certificate issued in 1713 by the Hunslet Overseers.

Burgus of Leeds.
To all whom it may concern, more especially to the Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor of the Parish of Rothwell, in the West Riding of the County of York.

In pursuance of an Act of Parliament made in the 8th and 9th yeares of the Raigne of our late Soveraigne Lord King William the Third Entituled an Act for Supplying some Defects in the Laws ffor the Reliefe of the Poore in this Kingdome.
These are to certifie that James Ouldridge, clothier, had his last lawfull settlement in the Township of Hunslett in the Burrough aforesaid. And wee whose names are underwritten
Churchwarden and Overseers of the Poor for Hunslett aforesaid doe hereby obleige ourselves and our successors to receive and provide for the said James Ouldridge and Alice his wife and
Joseph Ouldridge their son and infant whenever they or any of them shall become chargable to the said Parish of Rothwell, or any other place where they shall happen to inhabitt (provided
they shall not acquire a Legall Settlement there) 
Given under our hands and Seales the 31st day of March Anno Domini 1713.
Witnesses hereof :-
William Kilburn, George Atkinson, John Corkhead and Christopher Good, Chapelwarden.
Wee whose names are hereunto subscribed two of Her Majesties Justices of the Peace for the aforesaid Burrough of Leeds doe allow of the above written Cerificate Witness our hands the day and yeare above written. Ja Kitchingman - R Mitchell.

In November 1769 the Overseers "ordered that Mr Atkinson, Chapel-warden, demand the rent of Aaron Akeroyd for the house he now lives in, that was left by Mr Jno Brooke for the Poore of Hunslet, and in case he refuse, to make distress according to law" The Overseers were successful in getting rid of "Aron" for at the next meeting Mr Garnett was asked to "view the house where Aron Akeroyd lately dwelt, and that he bring an estimate of the charges of repairing itt" What has become of this estate of the poor it would perhaps be difficult to say.

p 13 Troublesome people came into the Workhouse now and again. There was provided a "chaine and lock to secure Henry Frankland in the stable, and for him to have straw to lye upon"

Again, "Sarah Wilkinson earn four pence a day or she is to go without dinner every day" However, Sarah was incorrigible, a month later the Committee ordering that she be given "two shifts a pair of shoes, a pair of stockings, a petticoat, a woollsey apron, and that she leave the House with her youngest child on Monday morning next" She came into the House four months before this, with two children and had to be sent to the House of Correction within a month.

Edward Howden's wife not to have any victuals except she complys with the order of Ye Committee to card for Mary Arlin. She did not comply, for at the next meeting of the Committee she, her husband and her youngest child were ignominiously turned out.

Escaping over the Workhouse wall is evidently an old offence, though not unknown to the present generation of guardians. The Committee ordered "that if any person or persons go over the wall without consent of the Master or Mistress, that they be not admitted till the following Committee day"  

On the 28th January 1768 James Scoles and his wife were appointed Master and Mistress, "upon trial for a few weeks, at eight pounds a year"

In 1769, John Firbis was given 20 shillings and sent to York Infirmary. Why he was sent to York when there was a good Infirmary in Leeds we do not know. John Howard, the great philanthropist who visited Leeds in 1788, said, "This is one
of the best hospitals in the Kingdom. In the wards, which are 15ft 8 inches high, there is great attention to cleanliness, and six circular apertures or ventilators open into a passage
five feet and a half wide. There are no fixed testers, no bugs in the beds. Many are here cured of compound fractures, who would lose their limbs in the unventilated and offensive wards of some other hospitals"

p 14 The following curious entry appears under the date 19th July 1770. "Whereas a clock is purchased by the order of the Overseers, belonging to John Walker, the late Clerk of this town, for three pounds, three shillings, upon condition that the said clock is returned to James Scales for the said money when he quits this House. August 1st 1770 James Scales paid to Jno Atkinson 10/6d towards ye clock. Nov 22nd paid to Mr Dibb 10/6d towards the clock by me, James Scales. Paid the 2nd Feb 1771 10/6d to John Atkinson towards ye clock. August 29th paid for the clock out, 1-11-6d by me James Scales"

That some supervision was exercised over the accounts, we gather from a resolution passed in June 1771. "Thatt the provision bills and casual reliefs be all read over when there is a proper Committee, and also the work done in the House, and that nothing be paid without the order of the Committee"

In August 1771, there was another change in the staff of the House. James Scales and his wife were given a month's notice to leave, and were given a sum for two bedsteads. It was "aggreed the same day with Aron Copley and his wife to serve at eight pounds a year wages" Three years later this was increased to ten pounds a year.

Another quaint entry on the 12th September 1771, is "that no Chapel-warden be at any expense for the future about dinners for the Clerk and Dog-wipper upon a Sacrament Sunday. Ordered that the Clerk and Sexton be allowed for the future the salary of two pounds five shillings per annum for doing the whole duty and that for the future he bring no separate charges in the Chapel-wardens accounts"

The following resolution was passed at a Committee Meeting when Dr Bullough, who was then a Trustee was not present. "That if Dolly Crabby cure Mary Atkinson of her fits to the satisfaction of her mother, the Overseers shall pay her three shillings" It is to be feared that Dolly did not get her money.

At this date, 1773, the Assessment for the Land Tax of the Township of Hunslet paid to the Crown amounted to 82-5s-6d Raised in the Township #85-7s-3d Due to the Town 3-1s-9d.

In addition to other industries carried on in the House, corn was grown. There are entries in the month of August in several years, of resolutions passed to sell the corn "upon the Workhouse Intacks" A resolution passed in March, 1775, will no doubt commend itself to all "that the poor of this House have one ounce of tobacco every week"

P 15 It was evidently the practice of the Trustees to store the furniture of those people coming into the House who had any. There are several entries in the Minutes having reference to this practice. Occasionally furniture was sold and the money devoted to the Inmates' maintenance.

That the domestic arrangement of the Master and Mistress did not always meet with the approval of the Trustees we gather from the following :- In February 1778, it was ordered "that all the beds now in the dining-room be removed upstairs, and that the same be converted into a dining-room for the whole family to dine together; and that Aron Copley and his wife have a bed set up in some part of the same bedroom to lodge in, and that it be immediately put into execution."

The present practice of sending our children out to the Day-schools is evidently an old one, for on the 27th April 1780, it was ordered "that eight children go to school" a great improvement on the then common practice of apprenticing nearly every child coming into the Workhouse.

Again, on the 25th October 1781 six children were ordered to be  sent to school.

On the 15th February 1781 it was ordered "that there be an assessment of seven months for the Relief of the Poor instead of that ordered the first instant for six months, it being found necessary to apply the remaining month toward erecting the wall of the new Burying Ground"

No person was to "have any relief from this Town who keeps a dog or doggs"

On January 3rd 1782, John Kelsall was appointed Surgeon and Apothecary, salary to be ten pounds a year. At the same meeting a "complaint having been made against Aaron Copley, the Master of the Workhouse, for his bringing a machine for turning yarn and working it for his own benefit, but he having agreed to make a present of it to the Town and to work it in future for the public benefit, it is ordered that he have an allowance of one penny for every shilling to be earned by the said machine over and above his usual wages" I do hereby agree to the above proposal - Aaron Copley.

The Trustees and Overseers do not appear to have attended the Committee Meetings very regularly, on many occasions only one, tow or three members turned up, and there are many occasions when there was no one present except an official. However on 1st August 1782, the following resolution was passed, Two Trustees and One Overseer being present - "That the Master of the Workhouse acquaint the Overseers to give their attendance as also the gentlemen of the Committee, or otherwise a publick Town's Meeting will be called upon to look after the business of the Town"

There was a better attendance at the next meeting, but on the 24th October, when only one Overseer and no Trustees turned up, the following entry was made in the Minute Book. "The Overseers of the Poor request a regular attendance of the Gentlemen of the Committee and Freeholders of the Town, as this day none have attended" Business was transacted as usual.

On the 4th May 1786, Thomas Furnish was to have 2/6d per year for catching mouldwarps. In August of the same year there was trouble in the House as to leave. It was ordered "that no person go out of this House on any pretence without a ticket from the Master or Mistress on pain of being discharged this House till the Committee day next following" and also "that no person make an attempt to go out to any place of worship till ten o'clock in the forenoon nor till two o'clock in the afternoon on Sundays, and to return in due time to their meals or otherwise forfeit them"

In October 1786, the Committee ordered "a petition to be sined and presented to Mr Wilberforce, requiring a tax to be laid  upon Doges"

In June 1878 it was ordered "that Jonathan Howton have school wages, paper, ink, pens and paper found by the town.

About this time a wood legg was purchased by the Overseers for John Brough.

In October 1787, malt is two pounds five shillings a quarter. Malt was bought by the Trustees and given to the poor.

The Trustees and Overseers at their meetings appear to have given relief in money, and also money for rent, besides giving large quantities of Knaresborough cloth for shirts, shifts etc, coats, clogs, shoes, peticoats, gowns, handkerchiefs etc, and some were also given their assessment for relief. The times were bad for the poor people apparently, for we find the same people receiving relief for many years. Many widows came into the House often bringing large families with them. The children were not allowed to stay very long in the House, being put out as apprentices to various people in the district. Six and seven years was a common age for apprenticing, and there was one instance of a child aged two years being put out. Obviously this latter case has been simply one of what we should call now boarding out. 

Apparently the town's people were compelled to
take the town apprentices. There are many instances recorded where an unfortunate ratepayer was required to take an apprentice. Even imbeciles were apprenticed but promptly sent back. If a tradesman refused to take one he had to pay ten pounds. Occasionally we find a girl exchanged for a boy and vice versa In one case three guineas was given with the apprentice besides the usual clothes because he had a tumour under his chin, the Committee agreeing to take the boy back if the "said tumour should prove of bad consequences" Dr Bullough had an apprentice aged 7 years and a Dr Billam also had an apprentice put to him.

Poor Law Reform Act 1834

The administration of the Poor Law must have gone on much the same lines till the great Poor Law Reform Act 1834, on which modern administration is to a great extent founded.

The Hunslet Workhouse was evidently enlarged gradually until 1867, when a separate Infirmary was added, followed in 1872 by School Buildings, which have been used for Hospital purposes since the erection of Children's Homes at Rothwell in 1897.

Hunslet Workhouse was simply the Workhouse for the Township of Hunslet until 1869, when the Union was formed by the addition of the Townships of Thorp Stapleton (formerly maintaining its own poor) Oulton with Woodlesford (formerly in the Wakefield Union) Middleton (formerly in the dissolved Great Preston Incorporation) and Rothwell and Templenewsam (formerly in the dissolved Carlton Incorporation) It then became the Union Workhouse and is replaced now by the fine new buildings we are opening today.

p 18 Description of New Buildings.
These buildings have been erected near the junction of Wood Lane and Wakefield Road, at Rothwell Haigh, and the site comprises eighteen and a half acres, which provides ample space for future extension, the present accommodation of the Workhouse and Infirmary being for 450. 

The administrative portion of the buildings, stores, laundry, boiler house etc, have been designed large enough for a building twice the size so it will be seen that the possible need for future extension is well provided for. 
The buildings consist of six groups viz:-
Entrance Buildings, Main Building, Laundry and Boiler House Building, Infirmary, Lunacy Building, and Isolation Hospital. The entrance building, which is on the right of the principal gates, contains porters' rooms, receiving wards, and vagrant wards, where vagrants of both sexes are provided for principally on the cellular system. In this building are also rooms in which to store the inmates' own clothing. The weighbridge is by Messrs S Denison & Sons of Hunslet.

The main building or Workhouse proper has the administrative block placed in the centre, in the front of which are the  committee room, business offices, and Master's house, and in the rear the dining hall (a handsome apartment with an open timbered roof) kitchen, (lighted from the roof and fitted up with all the latest appliances) scullery, work rooms, Matron's office and stores, bakery, and flour stores. Upon each side of the administrative block and connected by glazed observatory corridors are the pavilions for the male and female aged and able-bodied classes, with the necessary day-rooms, officers' rooms, bath rooms, lavatories, and offices. The floors of the entrance hall, kitchen, etc are in Terazzio.

The laundry and boiler house buildings are placed in a central position between the main building and Infirmary. The laundry contains wash house, ironing room, drying room, foul wash house, receiving and distributing rooms, and head laundress' office.

The boiler house has space for 3 boilers, and in close proximity to it is the electric light house, with dynamo and accumulator rooms, the workshops, coal house and water tower. The boilers were made by Messrs Clayton & Sons, Ltd of Hunslet, and are fitted with a Green's patent Coal Economiser and the "Auto" patent Mechanical Stokers.

p 19 The Infirmary is a complete building in itself and is connected with the main building by a covered corridor from which is entered the central portion of the building, and from this point conservatory corridors to the left and right lead to the male and female pavilions, which pavilions are divided up into wards for the various classes of sick. The nurses' home occupies the central building, and contains nurses' bed, sitting, and recreation rooms, etc, medical officer's room, and dispensary. The front of the Infirmary faces the south, and from it access to large covered balconies at the level of the first and ground floors is possible from all wards. All the walls of the wards are of hard impervious plaster. The lavatories, w.c.'s etc, are lined with glazed bricks. All the internal angles of walls and between walls and ceilings, walls, and floors, are quadrants. Projections or mouldings are absolutely dispensed with so that there may be no lodgment of dust, and every part of the building may be swept and kept clean. The heating of the large Infirmary 
wards is by radiators and by means of central Burmantofts Stoves, faced with Faience, with horizontal flues in the thickness of the floors, which are supplied with fresh air direct from the outside. When warm, these flues distribute the heat evenly through the buildings. The floors of the Infirmary wards, as well as the dining hall and other parts of the premises are polished with "Ronuk" Floor Polish. The maternity block is in a convenient and quiet position between Infirmary and the main building.

The lunacy block for 36 inmates consists of ample accommodation for male and female attendants in the centre, with epileptics on each side on the ground floor, and imbeciles above. The short-period lunatics are in one-storey buildings at each extreme end with wards and padded and attendant's rooms. The lunacy block is complete in itself, but is connected with Infirmary by a covered way for administrative purposes.

The Isolation hospital is a complete building in itself and has its own nurses' accommodation, wash house, and mortuary. It is situated in a remote position on the south-east corner
of the site.

The aged married couples' cottages are on a high part of the  site near Rothwell Haigh, entirely separate from the main buildings, and being next to the roadway will have pleasant 
gardens, with a light metal palisading fronting them.

The elevations have been designed with little ornament, and what little there is, is chiefly concentrated on the administrative building, proportion being studied more than ornament for effect. The buildings are faced with Messrs Armitage's (Robin Hood) bricks and stone dressings, and have Westmoreland green slated roofs. The corridors and wards in the main buildings have dadoes of salt-glazed bricks, whilst the kitchens and sanitary offices are of cream glazed bricks.

The system of drainage is a simple one and on the most approved plan. No drains whatever are in the building.

The heating and hot water supply is on the low pressure principle steam being supplied to heat water in generators, two of which are placed under each block, one for heating and one for hot water supply. From these generators the water is circulated throughout the building both for warming and all domestic purposes, including baths and lavatories.

Economy in running is the feature of the scheme, and as far as available exhaust steam - which costs nothing - is utilized, and this effects a very considerable saving, as otherwise it
would, in the ordinary course, go to atmosphere and be wasted, while live steam - which is paid for - would have to do the work it is now doing.

Another and further saving is effected by returning into the boilers the condense water, which, already being at a high temperature, requires much less fuel to raise the steam pressure than if feeding from the cold. In addition, there is a saving  of water and labour; also, the temperature being more equal, the life of the boilers is correspondingly increased.

The buildings are lighted throughout by electricity. There are two combined compound engines, each of about 41 EHP. and 4-pole dynamos in the electric light station next to the boiler house, as well as a set of storage cells for supplying the lights from about 10.30 in the evening to about 6 o'clock next morning, and also for supplying the electricity for other purposes during the day time. The engines will be run in the evening and in the early morning so as to make use of the cells as little as possible.

On the switchboard, in addition to the usual instruments and appliances, a meter is provided for measuring the consumption of electricity in the building. The cells are charged by means of a booster so that the dynamos are always run at constant pressure. There are about 1,130 lamps in the building of various candle powers.

The various blocks of buildings are supplied with current by means of lead covered and braided concentric underground cables, laid in brick troughs, run in with pitch, and protected by brick covers. All joints are made in cast iron boxes run in solid with bitumen.

There are also two electrical lifts at the centre of each Infirmary pavilion, the cages being arranged to take a hand ambulance and two attendants. The usual operating rope used for starting and stopping the lift is dispensed with, the cage being controlled entirely by a simple switch, the lever of which is merely pulled in one direction or the other.

The electric current is also used for working two fans in the  kitchen block and for 3 motors, one driving the economiser, another the bakehouse machinery, and the other the automatic boiler stokers.

There are 19 telephone fixed in various parts of the building, all communicating with a central switchboard at the porter's lodge, the wires from block to block are encased in a lead sheathing, laid in tarred wood troughing, and run in with pitch. Spare underground wires are provided to allow of extensions in the future.

The total cost the buildings is approximately 85,850 or 182 per bed. When the substantial character of the buildings is taken into consideration, and it is remembered that not only is there no accommodation for children, which always brings down the average cost, but that a considerable portion of the accommodation is for Infirmary cases which always enhances the cost per bed, that the administration blocks are built in anticipation of future requirements, and that the figures given include not only the cost of erection, but also the purchase of land, the provision of a great quantity of new furniture, the expenses of raising loans, the labour saving appliances in the kitchen and laundry, and the provision of a system of heating and electric light installation (in both of which the capital cost takes the place of recurring expenditure on fires and lighting) amounting altogether to #16,000, the cost will be found to be a very moderate one and to compare very favourably indeed with other similar institutions.

There is also system of electrical clocks, all worked from a small battery. There are 45 with 12 ins dials, 2 with 18 ins dials, and one very large clock (Potts & Sons Leeds) at the top of the water tower, with dials 6 feet in diameter. The dials are all controlled by one regulator clock which sends a current through all the dials every half-minute, moving on the hands that space. There is in addition a separate independent clock to act as a check to the other, also driven electrically, but not from the same clock battery.

The buildings were designed by Mr J H Morton FRIBA. of South Shields, an architect of considerable eminence and great experience in this class of work. The Consulting Engineers  for the whole of the electrical work were Messrs Shepherd & Watney of Greek Street Chambers, Leeds. The General Building Contractors were Messr Harold Arnold & Son of Doncaster. The Sub-Contractors and Contractors for other parts of the work have been as follows :-
Hot Water Heating and Steam Engineering : Messrs Dargue Griffiths & Co Ltd of Liverpool and London.
Cooking Apparatus : Messrs Barford & Perkins of Peterborough
Laundry Machinery : Messrs W Summerscales & Sons Ltd, Keighley
Electric Engines, Motors etc : Messrs Greenwood & Batley Leeds
Electric Mains and Wires : Mr W B Parker, Bond Street Leeds
Electric Lifts etc : Messrs Wilson Hartnell & Co Ltd Kirkstall
Road Leeds
Electric Clocks - The Synchronome Co, Clerkenwell Rd London
Grates & Stoves : The Teale Fireplace Co Ltd Leeds
Locks etc : Messr Kaye & Sons Ltd Hunslet
Park Fencing : Mr J E Hodgson, Hunslet
Bedsteads, Chairs, and Forms : Mr W Green, Hunslet Rd Leeds
Bedding : Messrs S Dixon & Son Ltd, Boar Lane Leeds
Blankets etc : Messrs Monteith, Hamilton & Monteith Ltd Leeds
Ward & Bedroom Furniture, Tables etc : Messrs W Lawrence & Co Ltd Nottingham
Dining and Drawing Room Furniture : Messrs Denby & Spinks Leeds
Carpets and Linoleums : Messrs Peacock & Sons Ltd Leeds
Ironmongery : Messrs R H Bruce & Co, Hunslet Rd Leeds
Crockery : Mr S Hirst, Mill Hill Leeds
Window Blinds : Messrs W J Howell & Co Albio Street Leeds

p 23 Inscription on Memorial Tablet 
Foundation Stone Laying Hunslet Union - motto - Nihil Sine Deo This Tablet was erected to commemorate the laying of the Foundation stone of these premises by Dr Hawkyard, Chairman of the Board of Guardians and of the New Buildings Committee on Thursday the 8th of November 1900.

The first portion of the Old Workhouse, near Hunslet Moor, was opened on May Day 1761, for the accommodation of 36 inmates. It was enlarged in 1867, and again in 1872, and now has accommodation for 264 inmates.
The Overseers of the Poor in 1761 were Messrs James Armitage and John Robinson. The first master of the workhouse was William Matthews, and the first Medical Officer, William Bullough.
The annual value of the real property in the township was in 1791, 2,906 and in 1815 8,507. In 1801 the Population of the Township was 5,799, and the Rate for the Relief of the Poor was 15/- in the

Board of Guardians 1900 
Chairman Dr Arthur Hawkyard - 
Vice-Chairman George Fryer esq.
Guardians of the Poor - Township of Hunslet.
East Ward - Richard Bamforth, Rev Michael J Dillon, Dr Arthur Hawkyard.
North Ward - A E Charlesworth, Joseph Edwards, John Seddon 

Source: From a book at the Yorkshire Archaeological Society Library
Submitted by Alan Longbottom

Page updated 19 December, 2006
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