Stockport Poor Law Union, Cheshire Genealogy
Parish workhouses at Stockport for up to 60 and Marple for 9 are found in 1777 Parliamentary reports.
The Stockport Poor Law Union formally came into being on 3rd February 1837.
The union included 16 parishes in both Cheshire and Lancashire and included the following constituent parishes:
Cheshire: Bramhall , Bredbury , Brinnington , Cheadle Bulkley, Cheadle Mosley Cheadle, Cheshire, Hyde St George, Cheshire Hyde, Cheshire, Marple, Norbury , Offerton , Romilly , Stockport , Stockport Etchells , Torkington , Werneth, Cheshire.
Lancashire: Heaton Norris, Lancashire , St Mary, Reddish,Lancashire.
Later additions: Bosden (1877), Compstall (1897), Handforth St Chad, Cheshire(1877), Hazel Grove and Bramhall (1900)
Stockport Workhouse Riot
In common with many northern towns there was widespread opposition to the 1834 Poor Law reform Act and in Stockport at the meeting of 23 January 1837 to elect a Board of Guardians the chairman voiced opposition to the Act. Despite his appeal to elect Guardians the meeting ended in confusion with several opponents voicing criticisms of the Act as “unchristian and unconstitutional”. No Guardians were elected but subsequently ratepayers did elect a Board.
Stockport however was to experience rioting in 1842. The initial workhouse remained the former parish building but in 1841/2 a new workhouse was built. The slump in local manufacturing coincided with the new workhouse building and a rioting mob attacked the workhouse. The riot was eventally brought under control by the deployment of the Cheshire Yeomanry after the theft of food and other property. Mobs were present in Stockport before and after the riot and there grievances were centred on the unemployment of up to 20,000 local mill workers as a result of the manufacturing slump and near destitution of many families in the town and surrounding area in local mills, hat manufacture and printers.
The new workhouse was designed by Henry Bowman who was also responsible for the Congleton workhouse. The new workhouse was built at Shaw Heath and was intended to accommodate up to 690 inmates.
The workhouse later became Shaw Heath Hospital, then from 1954 was known as St Thomas' Hospital. The hospital finally closed in 2004 and now forms part of Stockport College.
Stepping Hill Infirmary
As a result of criticism of the overcrowding in the older workhouse Infirmary the Union planned in 1894 an infirmary at Stepping Hill. Building work on this establishment finally got underway in 1901 on a site at Stepping Hill, to the south-east of Stockport. It was formally opened in December 1905 by Mr Andrews, Chairman of the Stockport Guardians.
The site later became the enlarged Stepping Hill Hospital when the National health Service was formed in 1948.
- Stockport Central Library, Wellington Road South, Stockport SK1 3RS. Most records were destroyed during World War 2. Surviving records include: Workhouse Births and Deaths (1850-1904, indexed); Lists of inmates and removals (1841-3); Lists of paupers (1837-43, 1853-73 with gaps; Register of deaths and diseases (1874-95); etc.
Register of births and deaths in Stockport Union Workhouse, 1850-1904 FHL BRITISH Film
1655519 Item 3. (This film is now unavailable due to some restrictions.)
For more information on the history of the workhouse, see Peter Higginbotham's web site: www.workhouses.org.uk and http://www.workhouses.org.uk/index.html?Stockport/Stockport.shtml for many maps and images of the workhouse buildings.