Victorian Powys for primary  schools
Powys Digital History Project
The workhouse  
  Who went to the workhouse?

For many people the workhouse was the place of last resort. Inmates were generally classed as two different groups:

The "impotent poor" were those unable to look after themselves, like the very old, the very young, the sick, crippled, unmarried mothers, the blind and insane.

The "able bodied poor" were those who had no work and therefore did not have any money to live on.

Impotent - powerless or helpless.
Able-bodied - fit for work or skilled.

  Drawing of workhouse inmatesAs paupers arrived at the workhouse they were washed and their hair was cut short. All their belongings were taken away and they were given a workhouse uniform to wear.  

Usually for women this was a shapeless, waistless frock reaching to their ankles and for men, shirts and ill-fitting trousers tied with cord below the knee.

There is more about the people who went to workhouses on the next page...

More about the people in workhouses...


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