In 1835, Holyhead had a workhouse at Black Bridge with Benjamin Griffith as its Governor.
The Holyhead Poor Law Union officially came into existence on 29th September, 1852. It was formed from the western part of the existing Anglesey Union which originally covered the whole of Anglesey. The union's operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 26 in number, representing its 25 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):
Anglesey: Aberffraw, Bodedern, Bodwrog, Ceirchiog, Heneglwys, Holyhead (2), Llanllibio, Llanbeulan, Llanddeusaint (Llanddeusant), Llandrygarn, Llanfachreth, Llanfaelog, Llanfaethly, Llanfair-yn-Neubwll (or Llafir-yn-Eeubwll), Llanfigael, Llanfihangel-yn-Nhowyn (or -Nhywyn, -Howyn), Llanfwrog, Llangwyfan, Llanrhyddlad (or Llanrhuddlad), Llantrisaint (or Llantrisant), Llanynghenedl (or Llanynghenedle), Llechylched, Rhoscolyn, Trewalchmai.
The population falling within the union at the 1851 census had been 21,114 with parishes ranging in size from Llanllibio (population 75) to Holyhead itself (8,863). The average poor-rate expenditure for the period 1849-51 had been £5,388 or 5s.1d. per head of the population.
Like its parent Anglesey Union, the new Holyhead guardians initially resisted the provision of a union workhouse. However, they eventually acceded and in around 1868, a workhouse for 70 inmates was erected at Valley to the east of Holyhead, at a cost of around £2,000. Its location and layout are shown on the 1926 map below by which time it was known as Holyhead Poor Law Institution.
The picture below, date unknown, shows the Board of Guardians and other officials posed in front of the workhouse.
Some of those in the photo have been identified as follows (numbers indicate row positions numbered left to right):
1 - Mrs MH Williams, Matron|
3 - Mrs Gardner, of Gardner's Mill, Valley
7 - Mrs Fearhall, of Newry Street, Holyhead
11 - Miss Lloyd, Assistant Matron and Head Cook
1 - Mr Richard Williams, Master|
10 - Vicar of Valley
12 - Nurse Jones (later Mrs Roberts, Postmistress, Trefor)
5 - Dr Parry Edwards, Workhouse Medical Officer and local GP)|
7 - Mr Owen John Hughes, Clerk to Anglesey County Court)
8 - Mr Williams, Postmaster in Valley
10 - Mr Robert Hughes, Registrar, Valley
12 - Mr William Rowlands of Ty Groes, Head Surveyor, Anglesey
The workhouse later became the Valley Hospital. It finally closed in the mid-1990s and the buildings have now been demolished.
- 1881 Census
- 1895: Master - Hugh Jones; Matron - Ellen Jones.
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.
- Anglesey Archives, Industrial Estate Road, Bryn Cefni Industrial Estate, Llangefni, Anglesey LL77 7JA. Holdings include Guardians' minute books (1852-1930); Admissions/discharges (1870-1931); Indoor relief list (1870-1916); Creed register (1899-1906); etc.
- Higginbotham, Peter The Workhouse Encyclopedia (2014, The History Press)
- Thanks to Peter Heseltine for Holyhead pictures.
Unless otherwise indicated, this page () is copyright Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.