Victorian Powys for primary  schools
Powys Digital History Project
The workhouse at Forden
Care of the poor
  Sickness and disease  
Workhouse drawing
To find out more about workhouses in general, click on the image above.

Many of the poor people in the area who got into difficulties were simply too ill to work. In the workhouse they would at least be seen by a doctor.
In the early years of the workhouse medicine was not very advanced though, and the workhouse itself could be a problem.
With inmates living together in wards, disease could spread through the workhouse quite quickly.
The inmates' diet was also limited, and this meant they had little resistance to disease.
In 1817 over 60 inmates died, and 26 of them died in one measles outbreak !
At another time inmates were sent out of the workhouse when smallpox was discovered there. (See the picture of a smallpox victim, above right)

Drawing by
Rob Davies

  As the Victorian period went on, treatments improved and the Forden Union would also treat people out in the community who could not afford to pay the local doctor.
By 1872 the Union was vaccinating poor people against some diseases. In the records here you can see the Union setting up vaccination stations.
  "Montgomery District. The clerk reported that the following stations had been agreed upon:-
Montgomery - Mr Fairles' surgery
Churchstoke - ditto
Chirbury - the school room
Ordered:- That Mr Robert Tomley, Relieving [Officer] be requested to arrange to secure a room for vaccination station at Priest Weston.
Welshpool District. The stations arranged -
Welshpool - Mr Barretts' surgery
Castle Caereinion - Chapel House"
On the list of staff you will see that the Forden workhouse employed a male nurse for the men's ward. His name was John Jones and he was sacked for helping an inmate escape!
  By the end of Queen Victoria's reign most poor people were helped outside the workhouse so that these great buildings were becoming more like hospitals for the poor older people who could not look after themselves.

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