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page updated 3 mar 2022
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Adamthwaites in the Workhouse
by Bob Adamthwaite
One particular family in my YELLOW line of Adamthwaites had close associations with Kensington and Paddington Workhouses. Edward Adamthwaite was born at Adamthwaite, Ravenstonedale in February 1771. We know that he walked to London, presumably to find employment, however the 1841 census shows him resident in the Kensington Workhouse. He died there on the 2nd June 1845. How long was he in the workhouse?
His wife Mary Newbury is shown in the 1861 Census as being an inmate Shoe Binder of Paddington Workhouse where she died six years later on 10th June 1867 aged 87 years. Where was she before this?
One of their sons, Joseph James Adamthwaite died in Paddington Workhouse aged 56 years on the 20th March 1865. He was a Domestic Servant and died from Congestive Bronchitis.
Another two of their sons died in infirmaries attached to the old workhouses. On the 24th March 1894 Charles Newbury Adamthwaite died in Paddington Infirmary aged 69 years from. The 1891 census shows him as an 'inmate of an institution' aged 61 widower and General Labourer but his address at time of death was 3 Charlotte Place, Paddington. Earlier he was described as a 'Parish Roadsweeper' probably when he was in the workhouse. His older brother, Henry Edward Adamthwaite, died 15th March 1901 in Kensington Infirmary aged 81 years and was described on his death certificate as 'Homeless', cause of death 'Cancer of the Gullet'.
It is interesting to note that the two who died in March both suffered from lung diseases and one can imagine poor undernourished families struggling to keep warm through the winter in inadequate housing, "The Good Old Days"!
The Kensington Workhouse was an all male establishment. Was the Paddington Workhouse for ladies only in those days? There is lots more to be found out from the Workhouse Records … here is some background information about Kensington and Paddington Workhouses:
Kensington Vestry erected a workhouse in 1778 on the southern end of Butt's Field. A substantial H-shaped structure, it continued in use until 1849 when it was replaced by a new building on Marloes Road. The old workhouse was then demolished and the site redeveloped into the narrow square now known as Kensington Gate.
Kensington Poor Law Union was formed in 1837 from the parishes of Fulham, Hammersmith, Kensington and Paddington. Following this, paupers were housed in a number of former parish workhouses: males in a workhouse at Kensington, women at Chelsea, boys at Hammersmith, and girls at Fulham.
In 1845, the Kensington Union was dissolved with
Fulham and Hammersmith forming a new Fulham Union. Paddington and Kensington began operating as an independent Poor Law Parishes, with Kensington adopting the name Parish of St Mary Abbots.
The Marloes Road Workhouse
In 1846, St Mary Abbots purchased a new workhouse site at the east of Wright's Lane (now Marloes Road) from Mr Gunter. In May 1847, after inspecting 35 other recently built Metropolitan workhouse, the Board of Guardians advertised for plans for a new building to cost no more than £9,000. The winning design, by Thomas Allom, was a Jacobean style red-brick construction.
The building was:
"to contain upwards of four hundred paupers, and has an infirmary with airing grounds detached from the main building. The first tender as accepted by the Board was 10,600 and some odd pounds; the second, with additions, amounted to 11,020l. The total length of frontage is 262 feet, the whole of which is given to the aged and infirm, with arcades for exercise and a garden in front. The able-bodied and younger classes are kept more immediately under the eye of the master and matron."
In 1868, the recently formed Metropolitan Asylums Board set up six new Sick Asylum Districts for the purposes of providing hospital care for the poor on separate sites from workhouses. One of the new Districts, named Kensington, comprised the parishes of St Margaret and St John, Westminster, together with St Mary Abbots. However, the large new hospital required by the new scheme was felt to be too expensive and the Kensington Sick Asylum District was dissolved. Instead, St Margaret and St John joined St George, Hanover Square to form the new St George's Union. St Mary Abbots then reverted to being a Poor Law Parish.
A new Paddington workhouse was erected in 1845-6 at a site to the south of the Harrow Road, on the north bank of the Grand Union Canal. The sick wards were extended in 1867-8 together with the addition of a dispensary and new relief offices. Further extensions were added in 1874, and in 1886 a new infirmary block was erected to the east, between the workhouse and the adjacent Lock Hospital.
In 1929, the workhouse and infirmary came under the control of the London County Council. In 1935, as Paddington Hospital, it had 603 beds. It became Paddington General Hospital in 1954, then from 1968 was the Harrow Road branch of St Mary's Hospital. It was closed in 1986 and the buildings have since been demolished. Elmfield Way now occupies the site.