Chorlton Poor Law Union,Lancashire

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History[edit | edit source]

A township workhouse at Gorton was in operation prior to the enactment of the Poor Law Union Act.

Chorlton Poor Law Union formally came into existence on 3rd February 1837. It comprised the following constituent parishes 

Ardwick St Thomas, Lancashire Genealogy , Birch in Rusholme, Lancashire Genealogy , Chorlton cum Hardy, Lancashire Genealogy , Chorlton upon Medlock All Saints, Lancashire Genealogy
Chorlton upon Medlock St Saviour, Lancashire Genealogy , Didsbury, Lancashire Genealogy
Gorton St James, Lancashire Genealogy , Hulme St George, Lancashire Genealogy ,
Hulme St Mark, Lancashire Genealogy ,Openshaw, Lancashire Genealogy , Stretford St Matthew, Lancashire Genealogy.

In addition the following civil parishes were included

Burnage,Openshaw, Rusholme, Stretford and Withington. Withington St Paul, Lancashire Genealogy Barton upon Irwell, Flixton and Urmston were added in 1841 but removed in 1849. In 1910 the Chorlton Union became the Township of South Manchester for Poor Law purposes.

In 1915 a major reorganisation of the Poor Law Unions took place. The Township of Manchester, the Township of South Manchester and the Prestwich Union were united to form the Manchester Union.Chorlton Union Workhouse

The first Chorlton Union workhouse was located the junction of Stretford New Road and Leaf Street. The building, presumably a former township workhouse, accommodated 300 inmates.As the population grew it became inadequate and a new workhouse had to be built. the Chorlton Union Workhouse at Nell lane opened in 1855. The site also included a cemetery which also served the area as well as the workhouse until 1920. The cemetery was formerly closed in 1970 and the remains removed and re-buried in Southern Cemetery. Some remains had been removed earlier when Princess Road was built and later in the 1970's when some other work was necessary. A record of the memorial inscriptions on the headstones removed to Southern Cemetery can be seen on film at the National Archives on film number RG 37/98 .

In 1971 Cemetery workers of the Manchester Corporation Cemeteries Department undertook the removal of human remains from the burial ground. The remains were removed in accordance with Section 18(7) of the Manchester Corporation Act, 1967 - Part IV. The exhumations were necessary so that a major road improvement scheme at Princess Rd could go ahead. 

A total of 4,422 individuals remains were removed and re-interred in Southern Cemetery.

The Withington Workhouse
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The new workhouse was located on a green-field site at Barlow Moor, Withington, at the north side of what is now Nell Lane. The building was erected in 1854-5 and was designed by William Hayley, Son and Leigh Hall. The workhouse cost about £53,000 and accommodated up to 1,500 inmates.

In 1864-6 a pavilion plan hospital was erected at the north of the workhouse. Designed by Thomas Worthington, it comprised five well-spaced ward blocks, linked by a covered way, and each accommodating 96 patients.

Following the opening of Worthington's hospital, the original hospital blocks were converted for use as lunatic wards.

An isolation hospital was built at the west of the site in 1872, next to the workhouse cemetery. It housed over 50 patients and its construction cost £2,000. Nurses' homes were erected in 1885, 1903 and 1913-15 at the north-west of the workhouse.
The workhouse's medical facilities were further expanded in 1902 by the erection of two new hospital pavilions at the north of the site.

In 1910, ownership of the site passed to the Township of South Manchester. In 1915, the Poor Law Unions in the Manchester area underwent a major re-organization with the formation of a single new Manchester Union. The former Chorlton workhouse was then renamed Withington Hospital. After 1930, control passed to Manchester Corporation until 1948 when the hospital became part of the National Health Service.

Styal Cottage Homes
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In 1895 the Chorlton Union purchased a 190 acre estate in Styal, Cheshire. Here they built cottage homes for children in the care of the Board of Guardians. The colony of social care homes together with the development of Withington as a health care institution with nearby social care at the Rhodes memorial Home gave the Chorlton Union a progressive form of Union approach to the poor and reports about conditions reflect this.

Additional probationary homes were added in 1905. A Church of England chapel was erected near the site entrance. Only Protestant children were accepted at Styal — Roman Catholic children were placed elsewhere.

In 1928, the site was extended to the north and additional cottages built to accommodate 200 children from the Swinton Industrial Schools which was being closed down. A new recreation hall and gymnasium were added in 1930.

It 1929 it was transferred to the Education Committee of Manchester City Council and closed in 1956.

The Greater Manchester County Record Office hold log books for the home, 1904-1956 (ref: Archives GB127.M66/84 - RESTRICTED ACCESS). However, these very rarely mention the names of individual children.

Childrens' Services, hold some admission registers 1903-1956 for the home. Enquiries regarding these records should be made in writing to Childrens Services Department, Contact Centre, Carisbrooke Resource Centre, Wenlock Way, Gorton, M12 5L.

The cottage homes still exist but the buildings and estate site are part of the Styal Women's Prison.

There were about 27 cottages including a couple of nurseries each housing between 13 and 28 children. The estate also included a senior school for more than 350 children, workshops, a laundry, a 16 bed hospital, a church, a swimming baths and the remaining 140 acres was farmed.

Records[edit | edit source]

Chorlton Union workhouse and hospital registers at Withington, 1857-1949 Microfilm of original records formerly held at the Manchester Archives, Central Library in Manchester, England. Withington is a township, and a chapelry in Manchester parish. Manchester Archives Central Library call nos.: M 327/1/1/1-10, M 327/1/2/1-22, M 327/2/2/1-20.

Birth registers, 1857-1902. Death registers, 1857-Sep. 1892.
Death registers, Sep. 1892-Nov. 1927 (includes West Didsbury).
Death registers, Nov. 1927-1949. Birth registers, 1902-1920.
Creed registers, 1869-1880 (to Margaret Heywood).
Creed registers, 1880 (from Margaret Heywood)-Oct. 1883 (to Barbara Haworth).
Creed registers, Oct. 1883 (from Barbara Haworth)-1888 (to William Royle).
Creed registers, 1888 (from William Royle)-1892.
Creed registers, 1892-1896.
Creed registers, 1896-1898.
2354905 Items 1 - 2

•Greater Manchester County Record Office (with Manchester Archives), 56 Marshall Street, New Cross, Manchester, M4 5FU. Relatively few records survive — holdings include: Lists of emigrant children sent to Canada and other countries (1889-1947, indexed); Ledgers (1837-1915) with gaps; etc.

The Chorlton Union Register of children sent to Canada covers the period 1892 - 1947. The Manchester Archives reference is M4/60/2. The register is named indexed and Manchester Archives will do searches in the restricted sections on a request subject to certain conditions. Although the register title suggests that all the children were sent to Canada, a few of the children were sent elsewhere. There are details relating to children who had been at Styal Cottage Homes.

In handling these records they vary considerably in the extent of information recorded but some can be very detailed and include employment in Canada. Typically the records contain favourable/unfavourable reports from Canadian agents about the conduct of the child being supervised and significant changes.

Some other countries also received children from Styal but predominantly these records are Canadian.

Web Sites[edit | edit source] for images maps and plans of the Chorlton workhouse and Nell Lane Schools and Homes, Rhodes Memorial Home and Styal Homes

Gerard Lodge  website content including representative case notes and advertisements for institutions relating to Manchester for several Poor Law Unions at his excellent website