Bromley had a workhouse from 1731 (Peckham, 1999). It was located at the west side of London Road, to the north of Bromley College and almost opposite to what is now Farwig Lane.
Cudham's parish workhouse was erected in 1731 at Leaves Green.
A parliamentary report in 1777 recorded parish workhouses in operation at Bromley (for up to 80 inmates), Beckenham (35), Chislehurst (17), Cudham (35), and Hayes (20).
Bromley Poor Law Union was formed on 19th May 1836. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 17 in number, representing its 16 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):
County of Kent:
Bromley (2), Beckenham, Chelsfield, Chislehurst, Foots Cray, North Cray, St Mary's Cray, St Paul's Cray, Cudham, Down, Farnborough, Hayes, Keston, Knockholt, Orpington, West Wickham.
Later Additions: Mottingham (from 1887), Sidcup (from 1925).
The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 14,413 — with parishes ranging in size from Foots Cray (population 308) to Bromley itself (4,002). The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1834-6 had been £8,101 or 11s.3d. per head.
Built in 1844 at Locks Bottom (or Locksbottom), the Bromley Union Workhouse was designed by James Savage and SO Foden. The original building was situated at the west of the site and faced to the north-west. The front block had a corridor plan and was connected by a central spine to a further accommodation block to its rear. A third parallel block was probably the original infirmary. A small lodge lay at the entrance to the site and a chapel was erected at the south-west of the workhouse. The site later expanded considerably to the north and east. The workhouse location and layout are shown on the 1908 map below:
The site later became Farnborough Hospital, now the Princess Royal University Hospital. The chapel in now the sole surviving workhouse building.
By the 1920s, the Bromley Union was operating a number of scattered homes at Farnborough, although their exact locations have not been identified. The union also placed children at the Holborn Union's schools at Mitcham.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.
- Bromley Local Studies Library, Central Library, High St, Bromley BR1 1EX. Holdings include: Guardians' Minutes (1836-1930); Ledgers (1836-1930, with gaps); Births (1879-1936); Deaths (1907-1932); Admission & Discharge books (1882-1930); Apprentice Register (1882-1912, 1927-1930); Registers of lunatics (1899-1931); Letters books (1872-1931); Vaccination registers [1895-1921].
- Higginbotham, Peter Workhouses of London and the South East (2019)
- Langridge, B (1997) Bromley Workhouse and Bromley Union (Part 1) (North-west Kent Family History Society, 7, 12, pp.397-400
- Langridge, B (1997) Bromley Workhouse and Bromley Union (Part 2) (North-west Kent Family History Society, 7, 12, pp.422-425
- Langridge, B (1998) Bromley Workhouse and Bromley Union (Part 3) (North-west Kent Family History Society, 8, 1, pp.7-9
- Hitchcock, T.V. (1985) The English workhouse: a study in institutional poor relief in selected counties. l695-l750. (DPhil thesis. University of Oxford.)
- Peckham, A & Humby, G ((1999) From the Workhouse to the Pye House - a History of Bromley Common
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