A parliamentary report of 1777 listed local workhouses in operation in: Nantwich (for up to 30 inmates), Audlem (10), Baddily (9), Eaton (12), Faddiley (4), Poole (18), Tarporley (40), Utkinton (12), and Weston (12).
A new Nantwich parish workhouse was erected in 1780 on Barony Road at Vauxhall, Nantwich. It was three storeys high and followed a U-shaped plan, with a single-storey entrance block at its front.
In 1776, Audlem had a workhouse for up to ten paupers. In 1832, it had nine inmates. An 1842 tithe map indicates a 'poor house' just inside the parish of Audlem on Lodmore Lane, Burleydam.
Nantwich Poor Law Union was formed on 18th February 1837. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 88 in number, representing its 86 constituent parishes and townships as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):
Cheshire: Acton, Acton-juxta-Mondrum, Alpraham, Alvaston, Audlem, Austerson, Baddiley, Baddington, Bartherton, Barthomley, Basford, Beeston, Bickerton, Bickley, Blankenhall, Bridgemere, Brindley, Broomhale, Buerton, Bulkeley or Buckley, Bunbury, Burland, Burwardsley, Calveley, Chalmondstone, Checkley-with-Wrinehill, Cholmondeley, Chorley, Chorlton, Church Minshull, Cool Pilate, Church Coppenhall, Monk's Coppenhall, Crewe, Dodcott-cum-Wilkesley, Dodcot-with-Wilkesley, Doddington, Eaton, Eddlestone, Egerton, Faddiley, Hampton, Hankelow, Haslington, Hatherton, Haughton, Henhull, Hough, Hunterston, Hurleston, Larkton, Lea, Leighton, Macefen, Marbury-with-Quoisley, Nantwich (2), Newhall, Norbury, Peckforton, Poole, Ridley, Rope, Rushton, Shavington and Gresty, Sound, Spurston, Stapley, Stoke, Tarporley (2), Tilston Fernal, Tiverton, Tushingham-with-Grindley, Utkington, Walgherton, Wardle, Warmingham, Weston, Wettenhall, Willaston, Wirswale, Wistaston, Woodcot, Woolstanwood, Worleston, Wrebury-with-Frith, Wybunbury.
The population falling within the union at the 1831 census had been 30,972 with parishes and townships ranging in size from Bartherton (population 34) to Nantwich itself (4,886). The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1834-36 had been £14,842 or 9s.7d. per head of the population.
Nantwich Union took over the existing workhouse building and gradually enlarged it. The site location and layout are shown on the 1908 map below:
In 1890-1, an infirmary was built at the east of the workhouse. Its construction cost £4,500 and it had 70 beds plus dayrooms for convalescents and separate wards for special cases.
In 1894, a new tramp ward, mortuary, and other buildings were added, followed in 1895 by a steam laundry costing £2,000.
In 1903-5, a 70-bed women's hospital was erected. It was designed by Charles E Davenport and cost £7,000. It was accompanied by a home for 15 nurses.
In 1853, Nantwich lost a number of parishes to the newly enlarged Whitchurch union.
After around 1912, the workhouse was officially known as Nantwich Poor Law Institution. In 1914, there were 308 inmates and 18 officers in residence.
After 1930, the institution became Barony County Institution and Hospital. Under the National Health Service, it became Barony Hospital which finally closed in 1994. The main workhouse building now accommodates local Health Trust offices.
In 1879-80, a school and home for 60 children were erected at the west of the workhouse site to designs by John Aldersey Davenport of Nantwich. The ground floor contained school rooms, day rooms, the mistress's apartments, the dining hall and the kitchen. The upper floor was occupied by dormitories.
In the early 1900s, the union also set up a children's cottage home at The Mount on Crewe Road, Nantwich.
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.
- Cheshire Archives and Local Studies, Cheshire Record Office, Duke Street, Chester, Cheshire CH1 1RL. Holdings include: Guardians' minutes (1842-1930, with gaps); Register of inmates (1925-49); etc.
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