Thursday, 3 May 2012

The Workhouse

Yesterday was my second time with The Bakewell Day Centre, run by Age UK for the project 'working memories'. I scribbled down their reminiscences between games of bingo, cups of tea and a la very welcome large Sunday style lunch. Coincidentally to another of our current projects 'warm and the cold' one of the themes in conversation that emerged was homelessness- this time in the 1930s/40s. 

I remember the tramps coming and knocking at the door and mother giving them bread and cheese. Mother wondered if they put a mark on this house as they always came to ours, walking past the house on their way to Chapel en the Frith. Going to the workhouse (now Newholme hospital) they slept there a night or two, then onto Chapel. Mother gave them old shoes if she had them. They were unshaven, disheveled. My grandma saying 'he's a gentleman, come down in life'. They didn't ask for money, just asked for something. Only came on their own, never a group, we'd say 'there's a tramp coming'. Everyone helped one another. Grandma said 'they'd come from somewhere'. Fill a glass bottle with tea, it was cold but they'd drink it.  Flora


We used to live at the back of the workhouse as a child in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. Would stand on little stools and watch people walking round in pairs, they never raised their heads, never looked up. Always so sad watching them, terrible. Mother was strict, we were not to make fun of these people, ‘their poor souls’. Many were quite elderly people, in drab looking clothes, never looking up. Mother would say ‘count your blessings’. Agnes

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