The Workhouse at Bainbridge in Wensleydale
The tramps used to travel round the area on what was known as a circuit.
This included Bainbridge, Kirkby Stephen, Barnard Castle, Reeth, Richmond Quarry Hill workhouse at Leyburn then back to Bainbridge about every two months. (Confirmation here please)
The vagrants that stayed at the workhouse had to do work to pay for their bed, bath and board before they moved on.
Before they could enter the workhouse they had to walk to the police station at Askrigg for a permit and then they could stay at the workhouse and get a bed and a bath.
When they left to go back on the road the vagrants had their cans filled up with tea and given sandwiches wrapped in newspaper.
When they were outside the workhouse wall they would look inside the sandwich and more than likely throw it away if it was jam or similar and then pester local people for food.
Mrs. Thompson from Skellgill was very kind and she would fill their cans and find them something to eat.
Jobs included sweeping the yard, and chopping up wood for firewood. It was made into bundles and put on a sledge that the Master of the workhouse would then take round the villages and sell at 1/2d each to make more income for the workhouse.
One man who lived at the workhouse was called Boaty Ned.
Ned used to ride up to Hawes on the bus purchasing a return ticket. Ned would walk back and tell people that he had duped the bus company.
Ned was responsible for collecting the whey in a wheelbarrow from the dairy in Bainbridge. The local youths would sometimes tease him so he would put the barrow down and throw stones at them. The master at the workhouse got complaints about this so to stop Ned putting his barrow down he sawed the legs off it and Ned had to go straight back with the whey.
One day Ned saw the young lads from the village were wearing flat caps with a neb at the back. Actually they had turned them round possibly because it was windy and they were less likely to blow off if turned round to the back.
Ned undeterred went up to Hawes called in at one of the haberdashery shops and asked the shopkeeper for one of these new caps with a neb at the back.
Farm buildings were cleared out of muck (scaling) and little piles were stacked in rows in the field to dry and then the casuals would spread it on the land.
Irish labourers would whitewash (lime mixed with water) the insides of farm buildings.
People from the workhouse were used to help build the weir on the river Bain at Bainbridge.
One tramp was known as peg leg. Some of the local people were quite frightened of this man. He would come to the house and knock on the door. When the door was opened he would stick his wooden leg in the door to jam it open until they gave him something to eat.
Another female vagrant used to wee on the doorstep if you didn’t give her anything.
- High Hall Bainbridge 1809-2007
- The Reform Of The Poor Law
- Inmates and Casuals – anecdotes and snippets from the workhouse
- The Workhouse Conditions – a look at the workhouse in the 19th century
- The Board Of Guardians – Enlarged photos of local people elected on to the Board of Guardians 1907 1922 and 1930
- Ernest Metcalfe – Started work at High Hall in 1965
- Joan Buck – Matron from 1966 – 1973