Manchester Poor Law Union
A workhouse was built in 1792 on New Bridge Street in Manchester. It was opened for the reception of the poor on February 14th, 1793.
The Manchester Poor Law Union was formally declared on 11th December, 1840. By 1850, the population growth lead to the township of Manchester becoming a Poor Law Parish in its own right. The other members, covering an area to the north and east of the city, separated to form the new Prestwich Union.
The union at formation had 12 constituent townships
Blackley, Bradford, Cheetham, Crumpsall, Failsworth, Harpurhey, Great Heaton, Little Heaton, Manchester , Moston, Newton (in the Parish of Manchester), Prestwich.
The post 1850 Manchester Union had the following constituent parishes:
Ancoats St Andrew, Lancashire , Lancashire Beswick, Lancashire , Cheetham Hill St Mark, Lancashire , Manchester Our Lady, St George and St Denys, Lancashire
Manchester All Souls, Lancashire , Manchester St Ann, Lancashire ,
Manchester St Barnabas, Lancashire , Manchester St George, Lancashire
Manchester St James, Lancashire , Manchester St John, Lancashire ,
Manchester St Mary, Lancashire , Manchester St Matthew, Campfield, Lancashire ,
Manchester St Michael, Lancashire , Manchester St Paul, Lancashire ,
Manchester St Peter, Lancashire , Manchester St Peter, Oldham Road, Lancashire
Manchester St Philip, Lancashire ,Manchester St Philip, Bradford Road, Lancashire ,Newton All Saints, Lancashire
The Manchester Union took over the Bridge Street workhouse which was enlarged in 1843. New fever wards were added to the buildings in 1851. By the 1860s, the New Bridge Street workhouse could accommodate 1,644 inmates.
The workhouse had a large Infirmary with fever, veneral and general wards and was particularly geared to caring for the sick elderly and infirm of the city.
In 1875 the Board of Guardians sold the main part of the site was sold to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway for an extension to Victoria station. In 1881, the remaining part of the site was redeveloped with the erection of new casual wards, relief department, female lock (venereal) wards, lying-in wards, and lunatic wards. The New Bridge Street premises continued in use until the First World War when the War Office took over the premises. These were demolished in the 1920s to expand the Victoria Station's goods yards.
As well as Bridge Street, two other existing workhouses were retained by the Manchester Union as children's establishments. The former Blackley parish workhouse on Moston Lane was converted for used as a school for the union's pauper boys. A small lunatic asylum was located to its west.
In addition the old Prestwich parish workhouse at Rainsough was used as a residential school housing about 160 pauper girls.
The Blackley workhouse closed in around 1845 after the opening of the Swinton Industrial School, Lancashire,England and was subsequently leased for use as a silk mill. The Rainsough workhouse was used for period to house adult inmates but was given up in 1847. After the formation of the Prestwich Union in 1850, Rainsough became the new union's workhouse.
Tib Street House of Industry
At the height of the Irish famine in 1847, Manchester experienced a large increase in poor relief claimants, partly due to an influx of immigrants and partly due to a widespread outbreak of typhus fever in the city. As a result, the Bridge Street workhouse could not cope with the demand for places and additional accommodation was needed. In January 1847, the union began leasing the former Barratt's mill premises at the north end of Tib Street as a temporary auxiliary workhouse for 600-800 inmates. The Tib Street workhouse, also known as the House of Industry, was mainly used as a 'test' workhouse for able-bodied men who were required to perform labour in return for poor relief. The workhouse was vacated in early 1851.
From July 1847, further workhouse accommodation was established in premises on Canal Street. This continued in use until October 1858 after the new workhouse was opened at Crumpsall.
Minshull Street Workhouse
From about a year from July 1847, a temporary workhouse for about 200 inmates operated on Minshull Street. Over the same period, a temporary fever hospital was in use on Millgate — this establishment closed in June 1848.
In 1855-7, the Manchester Board of Guardians erected a new union workhouse on an out-of-town site at Crumpsall, to the north of the city. The workhouse, designed by Mills and Murgatroyd, could accommodate 1,660 inmates, comprising: 745 able-bodied men and women; 152 women including 76 with infants; 248 idiots, imbeciles and epileptics; 255 children under 16; 60 probationers; 200 sick.
The first inmates at Crumpsall, in 1857, were able-bodied males who worked on the workhouse farm. Inmates only began living in the main workhouse from around August 1858.
After the closure of most of the New Bridge Street site, a large pavilion-plan infirmary was erected at Crumpsall, to the north of the workhouse.
From 1904, to protect them from disadvantage in later life, the birth certificates for those born in the workhouse gave its address just as 123 (later 223) Crescent Road, Crumpsall.
In 1915, the Poor Law Unions in the Manchester area underwent a major re-organization, with the South Manchester (formerly Chorlton) and Prestwich Unions amalgamated under the control of the Manchester Board of Guardians. As part of this change, the Crumpsall site was renamed the Crescent Road Institution.
In 1930, the workhouse abolition lead to the Manchester workhouse being managed by Manchester Public Assistance Committee. The infirmary came under the Hospitals sub-committee of Public Assistance Committee.
Now known as Crumpsall Institute, the former workhouse, which had always had its share of lunatic inmates, started to become a centre for treatment of the mentally ill. Crumpsall Institute was renamed Park House in 1939, and with the introduction of the National Health Services in 1948, became Springfield Hospital.
• Greater Manchester County Record Office (with Manchester Archives), 56 Marshall Street, New Cross, Manchester, M4 5FU. The few surviving holdings include: Workhouse admissions and discharges (1841-5); Creed registers (1881-1914, with gaps); Lists of children sent to Swinton Industrial School (1846-64); etc.
• Lancashire Record Office, Bow Lane, Preston, Lancashire, PR1 2RE. Swinton Industrial School admissions and discharges (1846-8, 1850-1934); indexes (1848-1935); etc.