The Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History
The Elizabethan Plymothians took the view that the best way to deal with poor of the Town was to find them some work to do. In 1618 they made their first attempt to do this in the Plymouth Castle but as no more is heard of it the project presumably was unsuccessful. But thanks to the generosity of a Mr Berry they had the funds to open what they called the Hospital of the Poor's Portion. Founded in May 1630, it was situated in Catherine Street, right opposite the Church of Saint Andrew.
In the parish of Saint Budeaux a Poor House was established in about 1650 adjacent to the Church.
Plymouth Corporation obtained a private Act of Parliament in 1708 which authorised them to appoint a Corporation of Guardians of the Poor and to turn the Hospital of the Poor's Portion into a residential workhouse, thenceforth known as the Plymouth Workhouse.
It is said that the parishes of Stoke Damerel, Plympton Saint Maurice and Plymstock all had poor houses or workhouses in 1777. In fact the one at Plympton may have dated back to 1736 when the land upon which it was erected was granted for that purpose. Even East Stonehouse had a Poor House at that date as an old one was pulled down in 1801 and a new East Stonehouse Workhouse erected in Clarence Place.
Likewise, in 1823 the Plymstock Poor House was replaced with a new one in what is now Stentaway Road, leading from Billacombe Villas to Plymstock Parish Church.
The Plympton Saint Mary Union was formed on October 10th 1836 and when the Plympton Board of Guardians met on October 21st 1836 it was recommended that one central workhouse be established in or near Ridgeway. Another meeting was held on January 13th 1837, at which it was decided to lodge all the male inmates at Plymstock Workhouse and the females and children at Ridgeway.
On April 14th 1837 it was ordered that all the inmates of the Poor Houses in Newton, Wembury, Yealmpton, Ermington, and Holbeton should attend at the Union Workhouses -- the men at Plymstock and the women at the old workhouse, Elm Terrace, Ridgeway. However, where the men and women were married they should both attend the Plympton Workhouse.
After some deliberations over the choice of a site, the Plympton Union Workhouse was first occupied on Monday March 22nd 1841, when the inmates of the two buildings in Plympton and Plymstock were transferred.
On Tuesday March 16th 1852 the Governor of the Workhouse laid the foundation stone of a new Workhouse adjacent to the also new Borough Prison at Greenbank. Formal opening was on Tuesday January 3rd 1854 by which date 380 inmates had already been moved there from the old Workhouse.
Assistance for the poor of Plymouth came from other bodies as well as the Workhouse, like the Royal Mendicity Society, founded in the City in 1870.
Under the Local Government Act 1929 the Boards of Guardians were abolished and their functions were transferred to the county borough councils the following year. The Workhouses then became either a Hospital or a Public Assistance Institution.
|© Brian Moseley, Plymouth, UK|
Any problems viewing this webpage should be notified to the webmaster at plymouthdata dot info