The Workhouse

Workhouses as places of last resort for the impoverished are still connected in the popular imagination with the figure of Mr Bumble, the pompous and hard-hearted parish beadle in Oliver Twist. The Workhouse Test Act of 1722-23 enabled local parishes to set up workhouses to look after the local poor. Subsequent Acts meant that workhouses could be established across a county through workhouse unions. Kirkham had a parish workhouse from 1726 and, as the major town in the area, came to be the location for the Fylde Union Workhouse built on Moor Lane in 1843-44 and enlarged in the 1860s. Hopefully the ‘inmates’ of the Kirkham workhouse had a better experience than Oliver in the ‘pleasant situation on the west end of town (between Moor Street and Station Road), that was described in Barrett’s 1882 Directory of Preston. The workhouse buildings were used for a time as a children’s home when a new workhouse was built in Wesham in 1907 before being demolished around 1912 when new children’s cottage homes were built on the site. 

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