Why life in the workhouse was bleak

This Is Wiltshire: Margaret Moles, an archivist from the Swindon History Centre, who gave a talk at Swindon Central Library on Wiltshire’s Victorian workhouses Margaret Moles, an archivist from the Swindon History Centre, who gave a talk at Swindon Central Library on Wiltshire’s Victorian workhouses

LIFE in Wiltshire’s Victorian workhouses was explored at a talk at the Central Library yesterday.

Archivist Margaret Moles delved into the bleak history of the institutions and the varied backgrounds of the inmates populating them.

Their significance in Swindon’s history has become evident to residents researching their family tree over the years, according to Margaret.

“With the growth of family history people are finding out that they had ancestors in the workhouses,” said the archivist at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, based in Chippenham. “The one for the Highworth and Swindon area was in Stratton St Margaret. Inmates could be of any age. Some were sent there because they were elderly, some because they couldn’t support themselves and others because they had mental health problems.

“The women would work on the laundry and in kitchens or would sew. The able men did stone breaking or separated ropes, which is called picking oakum. It was physical manual work.”

The Central Library hosts monthly historical talks. For more information call 01793 463238 or email localstudies@swindon.gov.uk

Comments (8)

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8:15am Tue 1 Apr 14

ChаnnelX says...

Inmates could be of any age. Some were sent there because they were elderly, some because they couldn’t support themselves and others because they had mental health problems.

The women would work on the laundry and in kitchens or would sew. The able men did stone breaking or separated ropes, which is called picking oakum. It was physical manual work.


I had VERY high hopes that we would see a return to this kind of society under the current government, especially with Atos' ruthless assessment of the 'disabled'. Disappointingly, even they have now thrown in the towel.

The leftie-socialists who pretend to 'care' about the feckless have allowed our society to regress to it's current *very* sorry state where people are cared for out of the public purse.
[quote] Inmates could be of any age. Some were sent there because they were elderly, some because they couldn’t support themselves and others because they had mental health problems. The women would work on the laundry and in kitchens or would sew. The able men did stone breaking or separated ropes, which is called picking oakum. It was physical manual work. [/quote] I had VERY high hopes that we would see a return to this kind of society under the current government, especially with Atos' ruthless assessment of the 'disabled'. Disappointingly, even they have now thrown in the towel. The leftie-socialists who pretend to 'care' about the feckless have allowed our society to regress to it's current *very* sorry state where people are cared for out of the public purse. ChаnnelX
  • Score: 3

8:30am Tue 1 Apr 14

house on the hill says...

ChаnnelX wrote:
Inmates could be of any age. Some were sent there because they were elderly, some because they couldn’t support themselves and others because they had mental health problems.

The women would work on the laundry and in kitchens or would sew. The able men did stone breaking or separated ropes, which is called picking oakum. It was physical manual work.


I had VERY high hopes that we would see a return to this kind of society under the current government, especially with Atos' ruthless assessment of the 'disabled'. Disappointingly, even they have now thrown in the towel.

The leftie-socialists who pretend to 'care' about the feckless have allowed our society to regress to it's current *very* sorry state where people are cared for out of the public purse.
Couldn't agree more. Caring is not endlessly throwing money at people and the problem. Caring is educating and informing, teaching the very important alternative 3 R's of Respect, Responsibility and Reality. We should be waging war on poverty not poor people, we should applaud intellect not belittle it, we should stop rewarding laziness and if necessary make people more responsible if they wont take it on board themselves. We dont want a society where more than half live off the other half, far too many of whom have chosen that lifestyle and stop moaning about immigrant workers who are prepared to work harder and longer for less money to provide for their families. We need to deal with problems instead of endlessly making excuses for why we dont or blaming someone else for our lifestyle choices and mistakes.

life should be about working for what you want, not having it handed to you on a plate at other peoples expense. Our society is in danger of becoming a joke and being left behind as the rest of the world moves forward.
[quote][p][bold]ChаnnelX[/bold] wrote: [quote] Inmates could be of any age. Some were sent there because they were elderly, some because they couldn’t support themselves and others because they had mental health problems. The women would work on the laundry and in kitchens or would sew. The able men did stone breaking or separated ropes, which is called picking oakum. It was physical manual work. [/quote] I had VERY high hopes that we would see a return to this kind of society under the current government, especially with Atos' ruthless assessment of the 'disabled'. Disappointingly, even they have now thrown in the towel. The leftie-socialists who pretend to 'care' about the feckless have allowed our society to regress to it's current *very* sorry state where people are cared for out of the public purse.[/p][/quote]Couldn't agree more. Caring is not endlessly throwing money at people and the problem. Caring is educating and informing, teaching the very important alternative 3 R's of Respect, Responsibility and Reality. We should be waging war on poverty not poor people, we should applaud intellect not belittle it, we should stop rewarding laziness and if necessary make people more responsible if they wont take it on board themselves. We dont want a society where more than half live off the other half, far too many of whom have chosen that lifestyle and stop moaning about immigrant workers who are prepared to work harder and longer for less money to provide for their families. We need to deal with problems instead of endlessly making excuses for why we dont or blaming someone else for our lifestyle choices and mistakes. life should be about working for what you want, not having it handed to you on a plate at other peoples expense. Our society is in danger of becoming a joke and being left behind as the rest of the world moves forward. house on the hill
  • Score: 3

9:10am Tue 1 Apr 14

mrwoo says...

Bring back the workhouse and have social housing for hardworking people on low wages.
Bring back the workhouse and have social housing for hardworking people on low wages. mrwoo
  • Score: 2

10:29am Tue 1 Apr 14

Hmmmf says...

It's too late to turn the clock back. The 2011 Riots demonstrated precisely how ineffective the 'forces of law and order' really are, and how threadbare the thin blue line. Governments (of all political stripes) live in fear of a recurrence of those events and know that 'social media' would coordinate and see the best part of 5.4 million benefit claimants 'robbing from the rich' if any serious attempt were made at returning to Bevan's original plan for the welfare state.
Cheaper for the government to buy them off by robbing from the working taxpayer instead..
It's too late to turn the clock back. The 2011 Riots demonstrated precisely how ineffective the 'forces of law and order' really are, and how threadbare the thin blue line. Governments (of all political stripes) live in fear of a recurrence of those events and know that 'social media' would coordinate and see the best part of 5.4 million benefit claimants 'robbing from the rich' if any serious attempt were made at returning to Bevan's original plan for the welfare state. Cheaper for the government to buy them off by robbing from the working taxpayer instead.. Hmmmf
  • Score: 1

1:52pm Tue 1 Apr 14

Davey Gravey says...

house on the hill wrote:
ChаnnelX wrote:
Inmates could be of any age. Some were sent there because they were elderly, some because they couldn’t support themselves and others because they had mental health problems.

The women would work on the laundry and in kitchens or would sew. The able men did stone breaking or separated ropes, which is called picking oakum. It was physical manual work.


I had VERY high hopes that we would see a return to this kind of society under the current government, especially with Atos' ruthless assessment of the 'disabled'. Disappointingly, even they have now thrown in the towel.

The leftie-socialists who pretend to 'care' about the feckless have allowed our society to regress to it's current *very* sorry state where people are cared for out of the public purse.
Couldn't agree more. Caring is not endlessly throwing money at people and the problem. Caring is educating and informing, teaching the very important alternative 3 R's of Respect, Responsibility and Reality. We should be waging war on poverty not poor people, we should applaud intellect not belittle it, we should stop rewarding laziness and if necessary make people more responsible if they wont take it on board themselves. We dont want a society where more than half live off the other half, far too many of whom have chosen that lifestyle and stop moaning about immigrant workers who are prepared to work harder and longer for less money to provide for their families. We need to deal with problems instead of endlessly making excuses for why we dont or blaming someone else for our lifestyle choices and mistakes.

life should be about working for what you want, not having it handed to you on a plate at other peoples expense. Our society is in danger of becoming a joke and being left behind as the rest of the world moves forward.
Appalled at the pair of you. You should be ashamed of yourselves but of course you are not.
[quote][p][bold]house on the hill[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]ChаnnelX[/bold] wrote: [quote] Inmates could be of any age. Some were sent there because they were elderly, some because they couldn’t support themselves and others because they had mental health problems. The women would work on the laundry and in kitchens or would sew. The able men did stone breaking or separated ropes, which is called picking oakum. It was physical manual work. [/quote] I had VERY high hopes that we would see a return to this kind of society under the current government, especially with Atos' ruthless assessment of the 'disabled'. Disappointingly, even they have now thrown in the towel. The leftie-socialists who pretend to 'care' about the feckless have allowed our society to regress to it's current *very* sorry state where people are cared for out of the public purse.[/p][/quote]Couldn't agree more. Caring is not endlessly throwing money at people and the problem. Caring is educating and informing, teaching the very important alternative 3 R's of Respect, Responsibility and Reality. We should be waging war on poverty not poor people, we should applaud intellect not belittle it, we should stop rewarding laziness and if necessary make people more responsible if they wont take it on board themselves. We dont want a society where more than half live off the other half, far too many of whom have chosen that lifestyle and stop moaning about immigrant workers who are prepared to work harder and longer for less money to provide for their families. We need to deal with problems instead of endlessly making excuses for why we dont or blaming someone else for our lifestyle choices and mistakes. life should be about working for what you want, not having it handed to you on a plate at other peoples expense. Our society is in danger of becoming a joke and being left behind as the rest of the world moves forward.[/p][/quote]Appalled at the pair of you. You should be ashamed of yourselves but of course you are not. Davey Gravey
  • Score: -1

2:00pm Tue 1 Apr 14

house on the hill says...

mrwoo wrote:
Bring back the workhouse and have social housing for hardworking people on low wages.
Why should you have a 2 tier society where those on low wages have it handed to them on a plate and those who work harder don't? No wonder the country is such a fvcking mess with ideology like that!
[quote][p][bold]mrwoo[/bold] wrote: Bring back the workhouse and have social housing for hardworking people on low wages.[/p][/quote]Why should you have a 2 tier society where those on low wages have it handed to them on a plate and those who work harder don't? No wonder the country is such a fvcking mess with ideology like that! house on the hill
  • Score: 0

2:54pm Tue 1 Apr 14

mrwoo says...

house on the hill wrote:
mrwoo wrote:
Bring back the workhouse and have social housing for hardworking people on low wages.
Why should you have a 2 tier society where those on low wages have it handed to them on a plate and those who work harder don't? No wonder the country is such a fvcking mess with ideology like that!
At the moment we have a society where those who choose not to work get it handed on a plate.
[quote][p][bold]house on the hill[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]mrwoo[/bold] wrote: Bring back the workhouse and have social housing for hardworking people on low wages.[/p][/quote]Why should you have a 2 tier society where those on low wages have it handed to them on a plate and those who work harder don't? No wonder the country is such a fvcking mess with ideology like that![/p][/quote]At the moment we have a society where those who choose not to work get it handed on a plate. mrwoo
  • Score: 1

7:06pm Tue 1 Apr 14

semitonic says...

Davey Gravey wrote:
house on the hill wrote:
ChаnnelX wrote:
Inmates could be of any age. Some were sent there because they were elderly, some because they couldn’t support themselves and others because they had mental health problems.

The women would work on the laundry and in kitchens or would sew. The able men did stone breaking or separated ropes, which is called picking oakum. It was physical manual work.


I had VERY high hopes that we would see a return to this kind of society under the current government, especially with Atos' ruthless assessment of the 'disabled'. Disappointingly, even they have now thrown in the towel.

The leftie-socialists who pretend to 'care' about the feckless have allowed our society to regress to it's current *very* sorry state where people are cared for out of the public purse.
Couldn't agree more. Caring is not endlessly throwing money at people and the problem. Caring is educating and informing, teaching the very important alternative 3 R's of Respect, Responsibility and Reality. We should be waging war on poverty not poor people, we should applaud intellect not belittle it, we should stop rewarding laziness and if necessary make people more responsible if they wont take it on board themselves. We dont want a society where more than half live off the other half, far too many of whom have chosen that lifestyle and stop moaning about immigrant workers who are prepared to work harder and longer for less money to provide for their families. We need to deal with problems instead of endlessly making excuses for why we dont or blaming someone else for our lifestyle choices and mistakes.

life should be about working for what you want, not having it handed to you on a plate at other peoples expense. Our society is in danger of becoming a joke and being left behind as the rest of the world moves forward.
Appalled at the pair of you. You should be ashamed of yourselves but of course you are not.
I actually thought this was an April fool's joke.. until 'house on the hill ' chimed in and supported it.

Back to the Victorian workhouses for the elderly and mentally ill and stone-breaking able bodied men?

Only under Tories, UKIP or the BNP maybe.
[quote][p][bold]Davey Gravey[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]house on the hill[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]ChаnnelX[/bold] wrote: [quote] Inmates could be of any age. Some were sent there because they were elderly, some because they couldn’t support themselves and others because they had mental health problems. The women would work on the laundry and in kitchens or would sew. The able men did stone breaking or separated ropes, which is called picking oakum. It was physical manual work. [/quote] I had VERY high hopes that we would see a return to this kind of society under the current government, especially with Atos' ruthless assessment of the 'disabled'. Disappointingly, even they have now thrown in the towel. The leftie-socialists who pretend to 'care' about the feckless have allowed our society to regress to it's current *very* sorry state where people are cared for out of the public purse.[/p][/quote]Couldn't agree more. Caring is not endlessly throwing money at people and the problem. Caring is educating and informing, teaching the very important alternative 3 R's of Respect, Responsibility and Reality. We should be waging war on poverty not poor people, we should applaud intellect not belittle it, we should stop rewarding laziness and if necessary make people more responsible if they wont take it on board themselves. We dont want a society where more than half live off the other half, far too many of whom have chosen that lifestyle and stop moaning about immigrant workers who are prepared to work harder and longer for less money to provide for their families. We need to deal with problems instead of endlessly making excuses for why we dont or blaming someone else for our lifestyle choices and mistakes. life should be about working for what you want, not having it handed to you on a plate at other peoples expense. Our society is in danger of becoming a joke and being left behind as the rest of the world moves forward.[/p][/quote]Appalled at the pair of you. You should be ashamed of yourselves but of course you are not.[/p][/quote]I actually thought this was an April fool's joke.. until 'house on the hill ' chimed in and supported it. Back to the Victorian workhouses for the elderly and mentally ill and stone-breaking able bodied men? Only under Tories, UKIP or the BNP maybe. semitonic
  • Score: -1

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