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[Up to 1834] [After 1834] [Staff] [Inmates] [Records] [Bibliography] [Links] The first workhouse in Kendal (then known as Kirkby in Kendal, or Kirkby Kendal) is said to have been on the Fell Side. Children teased the wool by hand then the adults wove the yarn on hand-looms.
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Eden, in his 1797 survey of the poor in England, reported of Kendal that: The insides of cottages near the town exhibit every appearance of misery. In 1813, the union erected a workhouse at a cost of £4,990 and designed by Francis Webster of Kendal. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 67 in number, representing its 57 constituent parishes and townships as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians where not one): Westmorland: Ambleside (2), Applethwaite, Barbon, Beetham, Burton, Casterton, Crook, Crosthwaite and Lyth, Dilicar, Docker, Farleton, Fawcett Forrest, Firbank, Grasmere, Grayrigg, Haverbrack, Helsington, Hincaster, Holme, Hugill, Hutton Roof, Kendal (7), Kentmere, Killington, Kirkby Lonsdale (2), Kirkland (2), Langdales, Lambrigg, Levens, Longsuddale, Lupton, Mansergh, Meethop and Ulpha, Middleton, Milnthorpe and Heversham (2), Natland, Nether Graveship, New Hutton, Old Hutton and Holmescales, Patton, Preston Patrick, Preston Richard, Rydal and Loughrigg, Scalthwaitrigg-Hay and Hutton'ith Hay, Sedgwick, Skelsmergh, Stainton, Nether Staveley, Over Staveley, Strickland Kettle, Strickland Roger, Troutbeck, Underbarrow and Bradley-field, Undermillbeck, Whinfell, Whitwell and Selside, Witherslack.
The Poor are either relieved at home or maintained in a Workhouse, which is a commodious building, in an airy situation, and kept with great neatness and propriety. Each township subscribed towards the building according to the average amount of their poor rates during the previous three years. The population falling within the union at the 1831 census had been 26,906 with parishes and townships ranging in size from Fawcett Forrest (population 61) to Kendal itself (10,015).
It contains 55 rooms, 35 of which are lodging rooms, very judiciously distributed. Beans and cabbages are occasionally substituted for potatoes, and bacon for beef, but the usual rotation is : Breakfast—Every day, hasty pudding and milk, or milk boiled with oatmeal. On beef days each person is allowed half-a-pound of beef without any distinction being paid to age or sex. According to an 1829 directory: The house and garden occupy two acres, and, detached from the house, upon a pleasant eminence, is a fever ward, belonging to the institution. The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1834-36 had been £12,728 or 7s.9d. Kendal was somewhat unusual in that it permanently retained two pre-1834 parish workhouses, the one at Kendal and another at Milnthorpe.
Dinner—Sunday, Wednesday, Friday, milk pottage and bread ; Monday, Thursday, Saturday, broth, boiled beef, potatoes and bread ; Tuesday, hough stewed, potatoes and bread. There were in the house on 4th April, 1795, 136 persons, viz., 57 males, 79 females, of which 38 were under 10, 26 between 10 and 20, 12 between 20 and 30, 8 between 30 and 40, 15 between 40 and 50, 4 between 50 and 60, 17 between 60 and 70, 10 between 70 and 80, 6 between 80 and 90. Men are generally employed out of the house ; women spin and make Kendal cottons, etc.; children are generally sent to the different manufactories, where they earn about 1s. Encouragement money is paid to the industrious, viz., 1d. The whole is built on an excellent plan, and is well conducted by the Governor, Mr. The paupers grind all the corn used in the house at a small hand-mill, and many of them are employed in weaving coarse linen-cloths, checks, linsey-woolsey, &c. Kendal, which in 1849 could accommodate up to 335 inmates, catered for able-bodied men, and children over 7 years.
The Act provided for: "...enclosing a piece of waste ground in the Borough and township of Kirkby in Kendal for the benefit of the poor, and cleansing the streets of the town, and for confirming a rule or order of assize and order of the high court of Chancery, relative to the rates and assessments to be raised for the relief of the poor, by the inhabitants of the said township, and the owners of lands, called Park and Castle Lands." Under this Act, the mayor of Kendal and twelve other inhabitants were empowered to make orders for maintaining and employing the poor, along with a range of other matters such as setting out roads, cleansing and lighting the streets, levying fines for nuisances, enforcing the payment of rates and penalties etc. A committee room was added in 1823, and fever wards in 1829.
In 1769, Kendal erected a workhouse on Stricklandgate — at the bottom end of House of Correction Hill — now Windermere Road. As was normal practice, Kendal workhouse tried to find places for older children as apprentices as demonstrated by a handbill, probably dating from the 1820s. In the township of Kirkland, at the south side of Kendal, a workhouse was established in 1809 at the head of what became Poor-House Lane, now Anchorite Place. Kirkby Lonsdale formed a Gilbert Union with sixteen other townships (in Westmorland: Barbon, Casterton, Firbank, Hutton Roof, Killington, Middleton, and Old Hutton; in Lancashire: Arkholm with Cawood, Burrow with Burrow, Cantsfield, Leck, Melling with Wrayton, Tunstall, and Whittington; in Yorkshire: Burton in Lonsdale, and Thornton in Lonsdale).
Designed by Richard Peddar, it was described as "a neat, airy, and pleasant building, large enough to contain 80 persons." In 1776, Peddar drew up plans for an additional wing. The paupers were "farmed" by a contractor who was paid by the township. The union erected a workhouse in 1811 at a cost of £2,150.
A parliamentary report of 1777 recorded local workhouses in operation in Old Hutton (for up to 10 inmates), Kirkby Lonsdale (15), and Lambrigg (6), although no mention was made of the Kendal workhouse. Kirkby Lonsdale former Gilbert Union workhouse, 2004. Milnthorpe (or Milnthorp) with its close neighbour Heversham also formed a Gilbert Union in conjunction with fifteen other townships (in Westmorland: Beetham, Burton, Crook, Natland, Hincaster, Levens, Sedgewick, Stainton, Scalthwaite-Rigg with Hay, Underbarrow with Bradley-Field, and Witherslack with Ulpha; in Lancashire: Dalton and Yealand-Redmayne). Kendal Poor Law Union formally came into being on 15th July 1836.
In 1800, the workhouse began the manufacture of 'hardens', a type of coarse sacking.