Gravesend and Milton, Kent
A parliamentary report of 1777 recorded Gravesend and Milton each having parish workhouses capable of accommodating 50 inmates.
In 1797, Gravesend erected a workhouse on Stone Street. In 1847, the building was converted into houses and extended at each end — the original core forming the present 21-23 Stone Street, now used as various commercial premises.
The Gravesend and Milton Poor Law Union was formed on 9th September 1835. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, with four members each representing its two constituent parishes of Gravesend (population in 1831 of 5,097) and Milton (4,348). The parishes' average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1831-34 had been £5,518 or 11s.8d. per head of the population.
Initially, Gravesend and Milton appears to have continued using former parish workhouse accommodation. In 1836, the Poor Law Commissioners authorized the modest sum of £75 to be spent on modifications for its use as a Union workhouse.
The Trafalgar Road Workhouse
In 1846-7, a new Union Workhouse designed by John Gould was built at a site on Trafalgar Road in Gravesend.
It had an H-shaped layout with an entrance block at the south containing the Guardian's board-room, the Master's room, and school rooms. The entrance block was connected via kitchens and dining hall to the main accommodation block at the rear. An infirmary was added in 1855, a new children's' ward in 1882, and accommodation for lunatics in 1891. The workhouse location and layout are shown on the 1907 OS map:
The workhouse later became St James' hospital. The site has now been developed as residential accommodation and the original buildings demolished.
Gravesend & Milton Cottage Homes
From 1899, Gravesend & Milton operated children's "cottage homes" at 32-33 Clarence Place, Gravesend. Cottage home developments were often located in a rural setting and each home housed a "family" of twenty or thirty children under the care of a full-time house-mother. A 1913 directory describes the Gravesend homes as having "matrons" (Mary Grinell and Mary Cochrane) which may indicate a somewhat different type of regime.
The former homes have now become private houses.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals.
- Kent History and Library Centre, James Whatman Way, Maidstone, Kent ME14 1LQ Holdings include: Guardians' minutes (1835-1930); Births (1848-1913); Deaths (1871-1914); Creed registers (1924-39); Children's home superintendent's journal (1899-1916); etc.
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