Swansea Union Workhouse - A block plan from the 1880s

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I think this plan dates from the 1884 enlargement. The block workshops give you an idea of the nature of work the inmates were expected to take part in at that time. The mats were rag mats (you can see many examples of this sort of thing at St Fagan's museum), they were made of any old rags or clothes that were around. The oakum workshop was probably the most unpopular place in the workhouse. Inmates hated picking oakum and would do anything to avoid it. In 1855, a woman Ann John, refused to pick oakum and was locked in a blacked out punishment room for four hours. 

The tailor would have plenty of work repairing clothes and making clothes for new inmates, the shoemaker would have a similar task. The presence of a tool store indicates the need for large numbers of tools to work the fields behind at the rear of the workhouse.

 

 

 

The View for Sunday 7 January 2001

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