Introducing The Workhouse Network

The Workhouse Network brings together museums, heritage organisations, archives and universities interested in welfare history.

By The Workhouse Network

The Network exists to share expertise, develop skills, knowledge and understanding and to promote the understanding of the history and contemporary relevance of poverty, welfare and the poor.

Female inmates at Ripon Union Workhouse (1900-01-01) by UnknownThe Workhouse Network

The More Than Oliver Twist project provided training for six workhouse sites to research the lives of inmates in their institutions in the 1881 census.

Nurse and two inmates in the female yard of Southwell Union Workhouse (1927-01-01) by UnknownThe Workhouse Network

Six different workhouses sites were involved in The More Than Oliver Twist project:

Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse is part of Norfolk Museums Service. This rural life museum is housed in the former Mitford and Launditch Union Workhouse.

Mitford and Launditch Union Workhouse with porter and inmate (1930-01-01) by UnknownThe Workhouse Network

Llanfyllin Workhouse is a developing community centre and venue for arts, education, environment and heritage in Powys, Wales. It is housed in the former Llanfyllin Union Workhouse.

Llanfyllin, Union Workhouse (1900-01-01) by UnknownThe Workhouse Network

The Workhouse is a National Trust place located in Southwell, Nottinghamshire. It is the most complete workhouse in existence. It is the former Southwell Union Workhouse.

Staff of Southwell Union Workhouse (1900-01-01) by UnknownThe Workhouse Network

The Spike Heritage Centre in Guildford, Surrey is a community centre and heritage site that explores the experiences of vagrants within the workhouse system. It is all that survives of the Guildford Union Workhouse which was demolished in 1966.

Guildford Union Workhouse (1835-01-01) by Henry ProsserThe Workhouse Network

The grim atmosphere of Ripon Museums' Workhouse Museum and Garden, North Yorkshire has been carefully maintained in order to give visitors a sense of what life in a Victorian Workhouse could have been. It is the former Ripon Union Workhouse.

Ripon Union Workhouse (1900-01-01) by UnknownThe Workhouse Network

Thackray Museum of Medicine in Leeds explores the history of healthcare to the advances that have shaped the way we look after ourselves, and each other. It is housed in the former Leeds Union Workhouse.

Guardians, Leeds Union Workhouse (1900-01-01) by UnknownThe Workhouse Network

Oliver Twist is, without doubt, the most famous of all paupers from the nineteenth century. The More Than Oliver Twist project provided museums with the skills to research the real lives of workhouse inmates. These turned out to be complex and diverse – much “More Than Oliver Twist”.

Able Bodied Female Ward, Leeds Union Workhouse (1900-01-01) by UnknownThe Workhouse Network

Volunteers from across the country have researched and written over 276 fully-referenced biographies relating to the lives of those inmates housed in their institutions.

Inmates from Mitford and Launditch Union Workhouse (1914-01-01) by UnknownThe Workhouse Network

These biographies form the first and largest UK-based collection of its kind. They are stored in an online database to aid development within the fields of welfare and workhouse research and improve public access to and understanding of collections.

https://ehive.com/communities/1167/more-than-oliver-twist

Inmates and staff at Thetford Union Workhouse (1900-01-01) by UnknownThe Workhouse Network

Six biographies researched by Network volunteers were chosen to be represented creatively as Google Arts and Culture exhibits: Hannah Wade, Levi Newham. Benjamin Newell, Stephen Barry, Louisa Ledger and Harriet Perkins.

Artists Mel Rye and Morgan Tipping designed and created the exhibits alongside regional volunteers.

Inmates at Thetford Union Workhouse (1900-01-01) by UnknownThe Workhouse Network

Explore the exhibits to find out more.

The project is funded by Arts Council England and supported by Nottingham Trent University and The National Archives.

Inmates at Thetford Union Workhouse (1900-01-01) by UnknownThe Workhouse Network

Credits: Story

Enormous thanks to everyone involved in the project across the six sites who made invaluable contributions through many hours of research into the biographies, and by supporting the development of the creative commission.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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