16 May 2022
More than 150,000 records from Oldham workhouse have been published online by FindMyPast, offering an insight into the diet, religion, appearance and eventual reason for discharge of inmates in the years 1800 to 1936.
This brand new collection sees over 150,000 records from Oldham workhouse, Lancashire, published online. These records cover over 130 years, from 1800-1936, and include both admissions and discharges. The transcripts provide standard biographical information, as well as the admission or event date.
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Further details can be gleaned from the original record images, which can include details such as notes on the inmate’s state at arrival (including health conditions and financial situation), whether they were on a regular diet or 'infirm' diet, religious persuasion, and reason for discharge.
A history of Oldham workhouse
Thought to have been built as early as 1731, the workhouse in Oldham could house up to 60 inmates by 1776. However, a Board of Guardians meeting in 1846 decided that though the workhouse should be retained, it needed new accommodation. Construction for the new building began in 1848, on the west side of Rochdale Road. It was completed in 1851, to the cost of £13,305.
After a damning report from a Poor Law Board inspector in 1866, citing concerns about poor ventilation and crowded sleeping accommodation, the building gradually saw improvements over the following decades. 1886 saw the addition of a residential school, which had a capacity of 350, along with a chapel, dormitories, wash houses, a dining hall, and workshops.