The Life of Stephen Barry

A creative interpretation of the life of Stephen Barry, an inmate at Guildford Union Workhouse (now The Spike Heritage Centre) researched and created as part of the More Than Oliver Twist project by The Workhouse Network, funded by Arts Council England.

By The Workhouse Network

This exhibit is part of More Than Oliver Twist, which combines audio narrative and visualisations that interpret historic biographies of UK workhouse inmates from the 1881 census and relates them to 21st century lived experience. We invite you to encounter the multidimensional lives of the people known then as ‘paupers’. The work is drawn directly from the research, museum collections, workhouse buildings, volunteers’ experiences and related contemporary lives. Stephen Barry's exhibit contains material some may find upsetting: crime.

Illustration by Mel Rye.

Illustration - Stephen Barry (2020) by Mel RyeThe Workhouse Network

Inquest radio hears about the life of Stephen Barry.

Audio by Morgan Tipping.
Illustration by Mel Rye.

Radio Interview - Stephen Barry (2020) by Morgan TippingThe Workhouse Network

A full, referenced biography researched and written by Heather Turner of The Spike Heritage Centre is available at:

Illustration - Stephen Barry (2020) by Mel RyeThe Workhouse Network

Visuals by Mel Rye.

People's Perspective - Stephen (2020) by Mel RyeThe Workhouse Network

Originally from Liverpool and of Northern Irish descent, Frankie shares his thoughts on Stephen Barry's life.

Audio and animation by Morgan Tipping.

Frankie on Stephen Barry's Story (2020) by Morgan TippingThe Workhouse Network

If you have been affected by any of the issues touched upon in Stephen's story, you may wish to explore these organisations:

Age UK Surrey:

Guildford Action:

Number 7 Night Shelter:

Share Your Thoughts - Stephen (2020) by Mel RyeThe Workhouse Network

Visuals by Mel Rye.

Researcher's Voice - Stephen (2020) by Mel RyeThe Workhouse Network

Hear John Redpath general manager of The Spike Museum share his insights on the casual ward system and Stephen Barry's life in the context of the Guildford Union Workhouse.

Audios and animations by Morgan Tipping.

John Redpath on Stephen Barry (2020) by Morgan TippingThe Workhouse Network

Explore behind the scenes of the Making of the More Than Oliver Twist exhibits.

Making More Than Oliver Twist (2020) by Megan DennisThe 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.

In this exhibit, special thanks go to:

Experienced family researcher Heather Turner for The Spike Heritage Centre sharing Stephen Barry’s life.

Frankie for sharing his perspectives on Stephen Barry's story.

John Redpath for his insights into the Workhouse context and Stephen Barry's biography.

Regional Contacts, Mentors and Volunteer Researchers:
Regional Contact: John Redpath
Regional Mentor: Heather Turner
Research Volunteers:
Barbara Hester, Catherine Davey, Diann Arnfield, Jo Patrick, Julie Cameron, Pauline Sieler, Val Pink and Viv Bennett.

Thanks to the ‘radio’ host Charlie Tyack introducing Stephen Barry’s story

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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