Machynlleth Poor Law Union was formed on 16th January, 1837. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 15 in number, representing its 11 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):
County of Montgomery:
Cemmes, Darowen, Isygarreg, Llanbrynmair (2), Llanwrin, Machynlleth (2),
County of Merioneth: Pennal, Towyn (3).
County of Cardigan: Scybor y coed.
The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 12,100 with parishes ranging in size from Uchygarred (population 332) to Towyn (2,694). The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1834-36 had been £6,277 or 10s.5d. per head.
Machynlleth was one of the areas of Wales that was strongly opposed to the new workhouse system. This, coupled with difficulties in finding a site and financing the construction of a building, delayed its erection until 1860. The new workhouse was situated at the east end of Maengwyn Street. Its location and layout are shown on the 1901 map below.
The workhouse had a T-shaped main building facing onto the road at the south.
A separate infirmary block was later erected at the east of the workhouse.
In May 1914, the guardians decided to close the workhouse. It was finally shut down in 1916 and the remaining inmates were transferred neighbouring union's institution. In the mid-1920s, the union purchased and renovated another site to accommodate vagrants .
In 1904, the guardians agreed that, following a recommendation from the Registrar General, the registration certificates for births in the workhouse should record the location as 'Gorphwysle' (resting place).
In 1920, the premises were taken over on a 21-year lease by the King Edward VII Welsh Memorial Association who converted it for the treatment of TB patients under the name of the King Edward VII Hospital. A large new block was subsequently erected to the east of the main building. The site was later known as Machynlleth Chest Hospital and in more recent times became Bro Dyfil Community Hospital. A planned expansion of the hospital in 2021 includes the demolition of parts of the workhouse building.
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.
- Powys County Archives Office, Unit 29, Ddole Road Enterprise Park, Llandrindod, LD1 6DF. Holdings include: Guardians' minute books (1837-9, 1843-71, 1876-84, 1938-1901); Ledgers (1839-41, 1844-1930); Deaths (1862-1916); etc.
- Higginbotham, Peter The Workhouse Encyclopedia (2014, The History Press)
Unless otherwise indicated, this page () is copyright Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.