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[Up to 1834] [After 1834] [Staff] [Inmates] [Records] [Bibliography] [Links] Putney had a workhouse from 1729.
The first Wandsworth workhouse was built in 1730 on East Hill, on ground leased from the local lord of the manor, Earl Spencer.
The contents of the ale and porter barrels, I was informed, were not administered generally, but only to old or infirm paupers by order of the medical attendant, and to those who wrought in the garden, or at more than usually severe labour.
As every kind of stimulating liquor is proved to be valueless, except where nature would unavoidably sink without such artificial aid, the beer served out here and elsewhere to all except the positively infirm, may be pronounced so much money of the parishioners' thrown away.
A small block containing the porter's lodge stood at the entrance to the site on St John's Hill.
The workhouse location and layout is shown on the 1866 map below: Wandsworth and Clapham St John's workhouse site, 1866.
Each class of inmates — men, women, boys,and girls — occupied its respective division of the house, with an appropriate airing-ground behind.
In one apartment, I found about thirty elderly men picking oakum, a very light employment; and is another place there were some men, of greater strength, working a pump which propelled water to a cistern, at the summit of the building.
The nursing staff comprised 63 female and 4 male nurses, plus other officers and servants.
The spotless purity of the walls and floors, the numerous water-closets and washing-rooms, the laundry, kitchen, school apartments, and small houses in which travelling paupers and their families could be lodged gratuitously for a night — all gave token of careful management, and concern for the comfort of the inmates.
In the kitchen was the perfume of meat in process of cookery — something very different from the brothy odour which assails the nostrils on entering an Edinburgh workhouse.
The wards were similar to those of other modern infirmaries of the period, except for being longer and having their fireplaces at the centre rather than at the sides or ends of the wards — the large wards had four fireplaces, each of which warmed a quarter of the space.
One ward was set apart for children, varying in age from a few days old to eight or ten years.