Bromyard Poor Law Union was formed on 30th May 1836. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 35 in number, representing its 33 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):
County of Hereford:
Avenbury, Bromyard (2), Bridenbury, Collington, Little Cowarne, Much Cowarne, Cradley (2), Edwin Ralph, Evesbach, Felton, Bishops Frome, Grendon Bishop, Grendon Warren, Hampton Charles, Linton, Moreton Jeffries, Norton with Brockhampton, Ocle Pychard, Pencombe, Upper Sapey, Stanford Bishop, Stoke Lacy, Tedstone Delamere, Tedstone Wafer, Thornbury, Ullingswick, Wacton, Whitbourne, Winslow, Wolferlow.
County of Worcester: Acton Beauchamp, Edwin Loach, Lower Sapey or Sapey Pritchard.
The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 11,940 — ranging from Moreton Jeffries (population 46) to Cradley (1,509) and Bromyard itself (1,434). The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1834-36 had been £4,722 or 7s.11d per head of the population.
A new Union workhouse for 120 inmates was built in 1836 to the east of Bromyard, for which the Poor Law Commissioners authorized an an expenditure of £3,000. The architect was George Wilkinson who was responsible for other Herefordshire workhouses at Leominster, Ledbury and Weobley. His design followed the popular cruciform or "square" plan with an entrance block at the front, behind which lay the four accommodation wings radiating from a central hub, creating yards for the different classes of pauper (male/female, old/young). The workhouse location and layout are shown on the 1902 OS map:
In 1893, there was an outbreak of smallpox. Local news reports from 1893 included the following:
- July 6th
- Board of Guardians:
Indoor Poor 45 (last year, 55)
Outdoor Poor 298 (last year, 333)
Vagrants Relieved 0 (last year, 49) (Closed for Smallpox)
Lunatics in Asylum 42 (last year, 38)
- July 20th
The Clerk was directed to obtain tenders for flooring with concrete and wood blocks the female tramp ward and other wards lately used for Smallpox.
- July 27th
- New Infectious Hospital
In the early Spring of this year we were threatened with an epidemic of Smallpox introduced into the workhouse by Tramps in the casual ward and afterwards it made its appearance in Sheep St. terminating fatally in the person of Thomas Taylor who had been employed in the work of disinfecting the workhouse. Members of the Rural Sanitary Authority strongly pressed by their medical officer and by the Local Govt. Board to take immediate action by seeking some suitable site for the erection of a proper infectious hospital and at once proceed to build. The small property in the possession of Mr W Morris at Burley about ½ mile from the workhouse consisting of about 5 acres of freehold land and a cottage was bought for £260. On obtaining possession they at once put the cottage in tenable repair and 6 bell tents were purchased to be erected in the meadow should any need arise, thus putting the authority in a position to isolate any new cases of disease.
The workhouse later became Bromyard Hospital. The surviving workhouse buildings are now used for residential accommodation.
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.
- Herefordshire Archives and Record Centre, Fir Tree Lane, Hereford HR2 6LA. oldings include: Guardians' minute books (1836-1930); Admissions and discharges (1840-1929); Casual vagrants' admissions (1911-12); Porter's admissions and discharges (1900-16); etc.
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