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Rugby Workhouse Lock

Object of the month

This lock was removed from the front door of Rugby workhouse in Lower Hillmorton Road before the building was demolished.

The workhouse opened in June 1819 following an agreement between the ten parishes of the Rugby Union to build a “House of Industry” to accommodate their poor

The workhouse was intended to accommodate 120-130 people, although it was only fitted out with 50 beds. The men living at the workhouse were tasked with producing hemp sacks while the women did spinning work. Later on, vagrants were also provided with a night’s accommodation in return for work such as stone-breaking.

In March 1836, a new Rugby Poor Union was formed by 39 parishes in Warwickshire, Northamptonshire, and Leicestershire. The new union, which was overseen by the Poor Law Commission, took over the existing workhouse and paid £160 a year in rent to the original Rugby Union parishes who owned the site until 1849, when the new Union purchased it for £4000.

The workhouse building was expanded in 1873 and again in 1895, when an extension was made to the sick bay. The number of people using the workhouse grew to around 148 in 1904-5, and this prompted the building of a new 66-bed hospital block with wards, operating theatres and nurses’ rooms.

The workhouse also had its own school between 1872 and 1892, averaging around 30 children. Later, in around 1912, the Union established three children’s homes, two of which were on Charles Street and the other on Cromwell Road.

In 1930, the workhouse became a Public Assistance Institution run by County Council and from then on only provided care to the ill, elderly, and infirm.

The infirmary was designated an Emergency Hospital during the Second World War, and in 1949 became St Luke’s Hospital under the new National Health Service.

The original main building was demolished in 1982 and St Luke’s Hospital closed in 1993. 

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