A parliamentary report of 1777 recorded parish workhouses in operation at Ashby-de-la-Zouch for up to 50 inmates, and at Hugglescote and Donnington for 30.
Eden, in his 1797 survey of the poor in England, reported of Ashby-de-la-Zouch that:
A new Ashby-de-la-Zouch parish workhouse was built in 1826 at a site to the east of the town at the south side of Nottingham Road.
Ashby-de-la-Zouch Poor Law Union officially came into existence on 28th June 1836. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 30 in number, representing its 23 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):
County of Leicester:
Appleby, Ashby-de-la-Zouch (3), Blackfordby, Staunton Harrold [Harold], Heather, Hugglestone & Donington, Normanton le Heath, Packington, Over and Nether Seal [Overseal and Netherseal](2), Snareston, Swannington, Swepstone, Whitwick (2).
County of Derby: Appleby, Calke, Oakthorpe & Donisthorpe, Hartshorn (2), Measham (2), Packington, Smisby, Ticknall (2), Willesley.
County of Derby and Leicester: Ravenstone.
Later Additions: Ashby Woulds (from 1894), Bardon (from 1862), The Boundary (from 1858), Coalville (from 1894), Chilcote, Coleorton (from c.1837), Osgathorpe (from c.1837), Stretton en le Field, Thringstone (from c.1837), Woodville (from 1897), Worthington (from c.1837).
The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 18,402 with parishes ranging in size from Calke (population 58) to Ashby itself (4,400). The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1833-5 had been £6,801 or 7s.5d. per head of the population.
The new union took over the existing Ashby-de-la-Zouch parish workhouse which lay at the east of the town on the Nottingham Road. In 1837, the Poor Law Commissioners authorised an expenditure of £1,600 on its enlargement. The site layout and location are shown on the 1881 map below.
The building was broadly cruciform in layout with its rounded entrance range protruding to the north. Substantial accommodation wings for male and female inmates lay to each side of the centre.
Later additions included an infectious hospital at the east of the site in 1893.
The workhouse buildings appear to have been demolished during the 1930s and a depot subsequently occupied the site.
In 1842, the Commissioners investigating the employment and conditions of children in mines and manufactories, discovered that workhouse boys, some as young as eight, were being sent on "apprenticeships" of up to twelve years working in coal mines. As a result, some unions in the coal-mining districts of South Staffordshire and adjacent areas were asked to provide detailed information on the children who had been apprenticed in the mining industry in recent years. The return for the Ashby-de-la-Zouch Union is included below. It related only to the year 1840, since which time no children had been sent to the mines.
|Name of Child||Age||Name of mine.||Apprenticeship Term.||Premium.||Name of Master.||From what parish sent.|
|Thomas Webb||10||Monmoore Green||11 years||none||Benj. Jackson||Coleaston [Coleorton]|
|Josh. Newbold||9||Darliston Field||not bound||none||Jonathan Lowe||Worthington|
|Wm. Bradley||9||Wolverhampton||12 years||none||Thomas Davis||Hartshome|
|Wm. Atkins||9||Wolverhampton||12 years||none||Benj. Jackson||Hugglescote|
|Wm. Savage||11||Wolverhampton||not bound||none||John Davis||Ashby-de-la-Zouch|
|Wm. Hill||11||Wolverhampton||10 years||none||James Rawlings||Appleby|
|Josh. Poxon||12||Darliston Field||9 years||none||Jonathan Lowe||Ashby-de-la-Zouch|
In 1914, the Ashby-de-la-Zouch Union established a children's home at Burton Road, Ashby-de-la-Zouch. The union rented two houses, one for boys and one for girls. A house-mother was appointed to each home, Miss Louise Smith for the boys and Miss Annie Stilton for the girls.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals.
- The Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland, Long Street, Wigston Magna, Leicester, LE18 2AH. Holdings include: House of Industry minutes (1814-26); Guardians' minutes (1838-1930); Ledger (1925-1930); Births (1868-1936); Deaths (1868-1936); Creed register (1900-36); Admissions and discharges (1837-1936); etc.
- Freer, W (2012) Ashby de la Zouch Workhouse and the Ashby Poor Law Union. (Further details and ordering information.)
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