Cookham (renamed Maidenhead in 1899), Berkshire
A parliamentary report of 1777 reported that Cookham had a parish workhouse accommodating up to 90 inmates. The building, originally a mansion house owned by Robert Lutman, was located on the east side of what is now North Town Road. After the formation of the Cookham Union in 1835, it was sold to James Darby who demolished the property and built himself a new home on the site known as Latimore House.
The 1777 report also noted the existence of a parish workhouse at Bray.
Cookham Poor Law Union was formed on 20th July 1835. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 15 in number, representing its 7 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):
Bisham (2); Bray (3); Cookham(3); Hurley (2); Shottesbrook; Waltham, St Lawrence (2); Waltham, White (2).
Later Additions: Maidenhead (from 1894).
The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 10,517 — ranging from Shottesbrook (population 138) to Bray (3,480) and Cookham itself (3,337). The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1832-35 had been £3,946.
The new Cookham Union workhouse was built in 1835-6. The architects were Messrs. Cooper and Son of Henley, and the cruciform design was based on the model "square" design of Poor Law Commission architect Sampson Kempthorne. Initially intended to accommodate 200 inmates, the Poor Law Commissioners authorized an expenditure of £4,893.8s.7d on its construction. The building, constructed of yellow brick, with slate roofs was erected at a site on the north side of St Mark's Road to the west of Maidenhead. The workhouse location and layout are shown on the 1910 OS map — the Union had been renamed Maidenhead in 1th 1890s. Also visible is the isolation hospital which stood on the south side of St Mark's Road.
The entrance block was a long two-storey range facing east.
Behind this, four accommodation wings radiated from a central hub, creating separate yards for the different classes of inmate.
From observation windows in the central hub, the activities in each yard could be viewed by the workhouse staff.
In the mid-1890s, presumably coinciding with the Union's change of name to become Maidenhead Poor Law Union, new buildings were erected the site entrance. To the right of the entrance, was a block containing the Guardians' board-room.
To the right of the entrance were a porter's lodge and receiving wards for new inmates.
To the east of the main workhouse stands St Mark's Church dating from 1873 and built in the Victorian Gothic style.
The former workhouse buildings are now mostly used as administrative accommodation for St Mark's Hospital.
In the early 1900s, the Maidenhead Union operated a number of scattered homes for pauper children at: Cookham Rise, Cookham; Leopold House, Grenfell Road, Maidenhead; The Gables, Court House Road, Maidenhead; Boyne Hill, Maidenhead; Furze House, Cannon Court Lane, Furze Platt.
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.
- Berkshire Record Office, Berkshire Record Office, 9 Coley Avenue, Reading, Berks RG1 6AF. Holdings include: Guardians' minute books (1835-42, 1845-1930); Admissions and discharges (1836-1850); Indoor relief lists (1836-42, 1854-1932); Births (1836-68); Deaths (1836-67); Assessment Committee minutes (1881-1901); etc.
- Higginbotham, Peter Workhouses of London and the South East (2019)
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