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Brecon and district
Care of the poor
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The Brecknock Poor Law Union  

When a poor family was taken into the workhouse at Llanfaes they would be separated. The men would be housed away from their wives and children and only allowed to see them if the workhouse Master allowed.
The inmates would be washed and given workhouse clothing and all their belongings taken away. From this point on the inmates would have to endure the harsh life of the workhouse, with no escape unless work outside could be found.

  Brecon workhouse smockThe men of the Brecknock workhouse were given thick smocks to wear like this one, which is in the Brecknock Museum. In a way it was like a prison uniform. If any inmate escaped he could be spotted easily. The smock is stamped with the name of the Brecknock Union. (see right)
The inmates all had to work long hard days for their keep and the food was not very pleasant. If they did not obey the rules they could be punished
stamp on the smock
  Besides running the workhouse the Brecknock Union had other duties, and as the Victorian period went on these other duties became more important.
Outdoor relief was paid to families who could not support themselves because of temporary illness. As time went on attitudes to the poor relaxed a little and by the end of the Victorian period fewer period were being shut in the workhouse.
  extract from directory  

The extract from a 1895 business directory above shows that Unions had a medical role also by this time.
Here we can see doctors employed by the Union around the area to look after the sick who could not afford to pay a doctor to treat them. They also vaccinated people against major diseases like smallpox and cholera.
(See the section on the Brecon cholera outbreak to see what a danger this could be).

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