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

Life for ordinary people in the district was harsh in Victorian times. With a poor diet,a lack of clean drinking water, and cramped and damp houses, it was not surprising that disease was common. Medical knowledge at the time was nowhere near as advanced as it is today, and poor people could not afford the doctor. It has been estimated that life expectancy in Brecon around 1850 was only about 30 years !
In some ways the paupers in the Caersws workhouse had better healthcare than many outside. At least they had clean quarters and drinking water, clean clothing and a regular if poor diet.
Life in the workhouse was designed to be stark, but the inmates were looked after.
The workhouse itself had sick rooms and a Medical Officer so if inmates were sick they could get better care than they might outside the workhouse. Even so, many inmates died there, and many young children who were born there died in the first weeks of life.

  Healthcare outside the workhouse  
  The Newtown and Llanidloes Union also appointed medical officers out in the community to try to improve the health of the poor. In this extract from the records of the Union we can see the arrangements being introduced for vaccinating people across the area.
Each Medical Officer looked after a district, and here we can see the vaccination stations in each district.
In the first or Mr Llyman's district: Newtown at the surgery, Kerry village, The Sarn, Dolfa & Moughtrey [Mochdre]
In the second or Mr Evans's district: Llanidloes at the surgery. Llangirrig village, Trefeglwys, Llandinam
In the third or Mr William's district: The Workhouse, Caersws, Carno village, Bettws,
In the fourth or Mr Jones's district: Tregynon village, Manafon, The Adfa, Llanweddelan.

The extract does not say which disease was being vaccinated against, but it was probably smallpox. This was a deadly disease in early Victorian times. Those who survived it were often left scarred, like the man in the drawing above right.

Back to Caersws workhouse menu


Back to top
Go to Llanidloes menu Go to Newtown menu