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Workhouse - part 1

60 second histories

This video covers:

A description of the new poor laws introduced in 1834 together with an overview of the conditions in a workhouse.

The new poor laws introduced in eighteen thirty-four were originally designed to reduce the cost of looking after the poor, take beggars off the streets and encourage the poor to work hard to support themselves. The workhouses are incredibly harsh and only the most desperate people allow themselves to become inmates. Loss of employment is a common cause for an entire family to be admitted to the workhouse. The families are split up and have to wear a uniform, and the food is really very basic; bread, a tasteless gruel and just occasionally meat. The routine of daily life is a grind too; inmates are up at six, work from seven in the morning until six in the evening with a break for lunch, then it’s supper at six and prayers and bed at eight o’clock. The idea was to make the workhouse so bad that folks would do anything to stay out of them, but if there’s no work to be had what can people do? And because they aren’t paid for the work they do so how can they hope to ever get out of the workhouse.
John Walter
Key words: 
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