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The accommodation was required to house 106 males and 95 females, including 102 aged and infirm, 76 able-bodied, 13 infants, and 10 imbeciles and epileptics. Following a visit to Reading, the commission's report gave the establishment a glowing report. Reading Workhouse as War Hospital, c.1915 © Peter Higginbotham. Following the closure of casual wards at Windsor, Easthampstead, Maidenhead, Wokingham, and Henley, a brand new casual ward was opened to the east of Reading at Woodley, near the junction of the Reading and Bath Roads where Norwich Drive now stands.The infirmary was to have male and female wards each with 13 beds, a three-bed and a four-bed itch ward (for scabies), two bedrooms for dirty cases, and a lying-in room for three women and three infants. The winning design was by a Mr Woodman, and building began in April 1866. A new infirmary was added at the west of the workhouse in 1892 and the old infirmary became a female residential block, with the old workhouse being used entirely for males. Unlike many other workhouses reviewed by the commission, Reading had a modern infirmary and a well-resourced nursing section which included a sister, four nurses, and two probationers. Reading Workhouse - 1911 Aged and infirm block, c.1915. Reading Workhouse - 1911 Aged and infirm block, c.1915. On March 1st 1915, the War Office requisitioned the Reading workhouse for use by the military authorities. The new Woodley Institution was officially opened ion 27th March, 1931.The new Reading workhouse followed the design of the East Grinstead workhouse built in 1859 which comprised receiving blocks, an infirmary and a fever block. The following year, the workhouse was renamed Battle Infirmary, reflecting it increasing role as a provider of medical care to the poor in the area, not just workhouse inmates.(Vagrants continued to accommodated at the Forbury until 1892.) A competition between seven local architects took place to produce plans for a building costing no more than £6,700. Reading Workhouse - 1892 Infirmary from the south-east, c.1915. Reading Workhouse - 1892 Infirmary from the south, c.1915. Reading Workhouse - 1892 Infirmary from the south-east, 2000. Reading Workhouse - 1892 Infirmary from the north, c.1915. In 1894, the British Medical Journal set up a "commission" to investigate conditions in provincial workhouses and their infirmaries. Following the abolition of the workhouse system in 1929, the workhouse was taken of by the Reading County Borough Council and became Battle Hospital.[Up to 1834] [After 1834] [Staff] [Inmates] [Records] [Bibliography] [Links] In December 1624, Reading received a bequest of £8,400 in the will of wealthy London draper John Kendrick.The money was designated for several causes but the bulk, £7,500, was to establish a workhouse.
The total cost, including furniture and fittings, was in the region of £14,000. In addition, a new board room, administrative block and master's house were added. Within six weeks, the workhouse was transformed into the Reading Number One War Hospital which, linked together with more than twenty other auxiliary hospitals in Berkshire, constituted one of the country's biggest war hospitals. In 1849, the Reading Union joined with the neighbouring Wokingham Union to form the Reading & Wokingham School District and operated a residential school for pauper children at Gargrave until the early 1900s.common stock to be employed and bestowed in trade of clothing, either in making of coloured cloathes, or whites, as the time shall require; and also in working of Wooll, Hemp, Flax, Iron, grinding of Brasill woods and other stuffes for Dying, or otherwise, as...shall seeme convenient for the employment of poore people, and for the preservation and encrease of the said common stocke.It consisted of rows of workshops around a central courtyard, with Kendrick's remodelled house forming the north and east sides. The premises included a large dye-house containing three furnaces, two woad vats and a float vat), a stockarding house, a medling loft with beating hurdles, several weavers' shops containing six broad looms and a kersey loom, and various clothworkers' shops.The main entrance, at the north side was through an ornate dutch-gabled stone gateway. By 1633, a Widow Lampit had been given the free use of several rooms in the workhouse to teach and set the poor on work is spinning and carding.
Eden, in his 1797 survey of the poor in England, reported of the St Mary's workhouse that: The Poor are chiefly maintained in a workhouse, erected about 20 years ago, for £1,400, of which £650 has been paid off. The parish has a standing overseer, who, it is generally observed, keeps down the rates more than officers elected annually. Tea is generally used here, twice a day, by the Poor; the other part of their diet is, principally, the best wheaten bread, and occasionally a little bacon; it is seldom sufficiently boiled, and is thought to give them the sallow complexion which is much observable here.