Swansea Union Workhouse (later Mount Pleasant Hospital)

Workhouse changes 1834 to 1914 ] The 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act Unions ] Workhouse conditions ] The end of workhouses ] [ Swansea Union Workhouse (later Mount Pleasant Hospital) ] Swansea Union Workhouse - A block plan from the 1880s ] Evidence: Signs of the workhouse ] Swansea Union Workhouse - A nurse's duties in 1904 (1) ] A Swansea Workhouse Christmas poem 1870 ]

A classic 1834 Act workhouse. This is an extremely rare photograph of Swansea Union workhouse taken between 1895 and 1900. The Mount Pleasant estate was in the process of being built and streets of new terraced houses would eventually obliterate this viewpoint. The left hand side of the picture shows the original barrack blocks built in 1861 and 1862. This workhouse was developed and enlarged to meet the increasing demands placed upon it. The buildings on the right are part of the 1884 enlargement. The fields at the rear of the complex were farmed by the Poor Law Authority and worked by the inmates. Between 1861 and the early 1900s the fields were carefully managed by successive generations of inmates. Even today the soil is of extremely good quality and devoid of the small stones that characterise the surrounding hills: Probably testament to the large numbers of children and old men who would have been put to the task of removing stones which were then used to build the terrace walls and field boundaries that can be seen in the background. 

Although it was expected that the fields would enable a degree of self sufficiency in terms of food supply,  it is unlikely that they contributed much to the running costs. However, the fields did supply a useful source of employment for inmates, an important priority for the early workhouse masters who were expected to make inmates work for their keep. 

 

 

The View for Sunday 4 December 2000

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