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Designed by Richard Peddar, it was described as "a neat, airy, and pleasant building, large enough to contain 80 persons." In 1776, Peddar drew up plans for an additional wing. The paupers were "farmed" by a contractor who was paid by the township. The union erected a workhouse in 1811 at a cost of £2,150.

A parliamentary report of 1777 recorded local workhouses in operation in Old Hutton (for up to 10 inmates), Kirkby Lonsdale (15), and Lambrigg (6), although no mention was made of the Kendal workhouse. Kirkby Lonsdale former Gilbert Union workhouse, 2004. Milnthorpe (or Milnthorp) with its close neighbour Heversham also formed a Gilbert Union in conjunction with fifteen other townships (in Westmorland: Beetham, Burton, Crook, Natland, Hincaster, Levens, Sedgewick, Stainton, Scalthwaite-Rigg with Hay, Underbarrow with Bradley-Field, and Witherslack with Ulpha; in Lancashire: Dalton and Yealand-Redmayne). Kendal Poor Law Union formally came into being on 15th July 1836.

The cross wing contained the Master's quarters and office. Local people remember in the early 1900s groups of paupers sitting on Kendal Green breaking stones from the quarries.

The west wing included accommodation for the able-bodied and for "imbeciles" including a padded room. Huge stones were brought by cart and they sat there winter and summer. The Kendal workhouse later became Windermere Road Institution and after 1948 was known as Kendal Green Hospital.

A now much altered block at the north of the site was probably the infirmary erected in about 1865. Like many other northern manufacturing areas, Kendal found it difficult to operate the "workhouse or nothing" principle of relief enshrined in the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act.

Slumps in the local textile trade could lead to hundreds of handloom weavers suddenly in need of relief.

A productive garden is attached to the Workhouse, cultivated by the labour of the inmates. Until the 1860s, children at the Kendal workhouse were all taught in the workhouse's own school-room.

The workhouse location and layout can be seen on the 1911 map below. The main wing at the east contained accommodation for the elderly and infirm, dining hall, stores and workshops. In 1865, female orphans were placed at the new orphan home on Milnthorpe Road established by Mary Howard of Levens Hall. For the boys, a military-style band was established.

In 1861, Nicholson's Annals of Kendal described the workhouse as: ...a large, uniform building, two stories high, occupying three sides of a quadrangle, the fourth, which is the entrance, being open to the street.

This was more than the workhouses could cope with and would anyway have been very expensive for the Union - the cost of keeping someone in the workhouse was much more than giving them modest out-relief either as food or as a small cash payment.

The weavers themselves were far from being totally destitute.

[Up to 1834] [After 1834] [Staff] [Inmates] [Records] [Bibliography] [Links] The first workhouse in Kendal (then known as Kirkby in Kendal, or Kirkby Kendal) is said to have been on the Fell Side. Children teased the wool by hand then the adults wove the yarn on hand-looms.

Paupers had their weekly allowances doled out, in the overseer's office (also in that quarter of the town) on Sunday afternoons. The annual disbursements for the Poor, which were £369 odd in 1764, rose gradually till they reached £1,066 in 1780, and were £1,751 in 1795, which included £100 for a new bridge, and several small sums not immediately applicable to the Poor. This occupation continued for the next half a century.

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