Lews Combination, Ross and Cromarty
The Lews or Lewis Combination was formed in 1894 and comprised the 4 parishes of Barvas, Lochs, Stornoway and Uig. The total population of the member parishes in 1891 was 27,590.
The Lews Combination poorhouse was built on a 4.5 acre site on Coulregrain Road to the north of Stornoway in 1894-96. The two-storey building could accommodate 66 inmates. Its construction cost in the order of £4,000 and was designed by James M Thompson of Edinburgh. Its location and layout are shown on the 1897 map below.
The view below shows the poorhouse in the early 1900s.
Details from the same picture show the male and female inmates, and a horse or donkey feeding outside the entrance.
On June 28, 1904, SS Norge, a Danish emigrant ship, struck a reef off Rockall with the loss of 600 lives. The steamer, with 765 passengers and a crew of 71, had left Copenhagen on June 22, 1904 bound for New York. Six days later, disaster struck when the ship — with Danes, Norwegians, Swedes, Finns, Russians and Polish Jews on board — foundered on the reef and sank in less than 30 minutes. More than 100 of the survivors were landed in Stornoway where they were accommodated in the Poorhouse, Lewis Hospital, the Sailors' Home and several private houses in the town.
In 1911, the poorhouse was licensed to provide accommodation for mental patients.
From 1930, the poorhouse became the Coulregrain House Poor Law Institution. In 1946 an official report found that 'it has 72 beds, of which 25 (in over-crowded ground floor wards of 2 to 10 beds each) are for chronic sick, and 2 are maternity wards'.
The poorhouse buildings no longer exist.
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Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals.
- Hebridean Archives, Lews Castle, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis HS2 0XS. Various Records (1893-1970) — no further details available at present.
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