Victorian Powys for primary  schools
Powys Digital History Project
The workhouse at Caersws
Care of the poor
  A new workhouse for the Union  
Workhouse drawing The better off people in the Newtown and Llanidloes area were the people who paid the Poor Rate. This was like a local tax to pay for the care of the poor. Many of them felt that there should be seperate Poor Law Unions for Newtown and Llanidloes. The government insisted though, and a site was chosen at Caersws between the two towns.
As the new workhouse was being built in 1838 the building was damaged on Sundays when there was nobody on the site. This was probably done by local people who did not want to see it built.

To find out more about workhouses in general, click on the image above
  There was much opposition to the the new system from poorer working people who were afraid of seeing their families locked away if they lost their jobs.
The Chartists, who were trying to get better rights for working people, also saw the workhouses as yet another way the authorities tried to control their lives. When one of the government officials visited the area to see how the new system was being set up, local people threw his gig off the bridge into the river !
For more information on the local Chartists click here.
After this the site was protected by soldiers during a Christmas Day meeting of Chartists at Caersws. The meeting went off peacefully.
Despite some local opposition the workhouse did open on the edge of Caersws in 1840. As we can see from this map it was built in the cross shape which was common to most workhouses built around this time and was designed to house up to 350 paupers. By the time it was ready to open the Chartist disturbances in Llanidloes had taken place and the authorities were very uneasy.
Local people saw the huge new building with great misgivings. It had barred windows and a surrounding wall and looked like a prison.
^2 map of thw workhouse

Life could be difficult for working people both in the towns and the countryside, with poor diet, cramped and damp houses, and disease being major problems. At least they would be in the community with their friends and relatives though.
The poor began to dread the possibility of being locked away
in the grim new workhouse.

More about the new Caersws workhouse...


Back to Caersws workhouse menu


Back to top
Go to Llanidloes menu Go to Newtown menu