Prestwich Poor Law Union

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In 1716, some land and cottages were bought at Raineshow [Rainsough] for use as a poorhouse. In 1819, a workhouse for up to 120 paupers was erected on the site. Local workhouses also operated at Cheetham, Failsworth, Harpurhey, Blackley, and Great Heaton

The area which was later to become the Prestwich Poor Law Union initially formed part of the Manchester Union. Although the union's main workhouse was at Bridge Street in Manchester, the former Blackley workhouse on Moston Lane was converted for as a residential school for pauper boys. Following the opening of Manchester's Swinton Schools in 1845, the Blackley premises became a silk mill.

In a similar way, the old Rainsough workhouse was used as a workhouse school for girls.

The large growth in Manchester's population in the 1840s led to the creation of the new Prestwich Union covering the area to the north and east of the city. The new union officially came into existence on 13th February, 1850.

Constitiuent parishes
Blackley , Bradford, Cheetham Crumpsall, Failsworth , Harpurhey, Great Heaton, Little Heaton, Moston, Newton , and Prestwich

Blackley St Peter, Lancashire , Failsworth, Lancashire , Harpurhey, Lancashire ,
Prestwich St Mary, Lancashire , Ringley, Lancashire , Stand, Lancashire , Unsworth, Lancashire

The remaining townships became the Prestwich Union. In 1858 Beswick became part of the Union as did Clayton in 1894. Great Heaton and Little Heaton were removed from the Union in 1891.

In June 1865, the Prestwich Board of Guardians agreed to erect a new building at Crumpsall to the North of Manchester, on a site adjacent to the Manchester Township workhouse.

The Crumpsall Workhouse

The corner-stone of the new Crumpsall workhouse was laid on 24th May 1868 by John Taylor, Chairman of the Prestwich Guardians. Intended to accommodate 312 inmates, it was designed by Thomas Worthington who was also the architect of ground-breaking pavilion-plan infirmary for the Chorlton Union.
From 1904, to protect them from disadvantage in later life, the birth certificates for those born in the workhouse gave its address just as 72 Delaunays Road, Manchester 8.
Prestwich Union effectively ceased to exist on 31st March, 1915, when it was amalgamated with the South Manchester (formerly Chorlton) Union and Manchester township to form a new single Manchester Union.
In 1918, the former Prestwich workhouse was renamed Delaunay's Road Institution and later became Delaunay's Hospital, which in turn, became part of the North Manchester General Hospital. The entrance block survived until around 2005 but nothing now remains of the workhouse buildings.
In 1915 the three poor law unions were amalgamated into the single Manchester Union and at Crumpsall the dividing wall between Prestwich Union Workhouse and the workhouse and infirmary of the old Manchester Union was demolished. Although the workhouse continued to function as a poor law and later public assistance institution until around 1940, it was the infirmary and the provision of medical care that saw real development. Crumpsall benefited greatly from the amalgamation of 1915. The Prestwich Union Workhouse became Crumpsall Infirmary Annexe and was used mainly for incontinent and chronically-sick patients. In total Crumpsall had around two thousand hospital beds and a separate accommodation for mental cases. In 1923 a pathological laboratory was opened at Crumpsall which dealt with pathological work from all the poor law hospitals in Manchester, work previously done at the Public Health Laboratory. Crumpsall Infirmary was also a recognised centre for the treatment of venereal disease and accepted patients not only from the Manchester Union, but also from other poor law unions in Lancashire (ref: M326/3/5/1 Manchester Archive).
From 1922 an auxiliary hospital for paying patients was developed in the institution building which created the anomalous situation, reported on in the Manchester Guardian, 4th July 1935, in which private patients were sharing wards with those too poor to pay for treatment. The Auxiliary Hospital, Crescent Road, as it was known, had a separate maternity ward and there is a surviving register of patients which may refer directly to this ward (ref: M326/3/3/1). The collection also includes some registers from Beech Mount Maternity Home, formerly North Manchester Maternity Home (ref: M326/7/1/1-2). It was not part of the hospital, but was a typical municipal maternity home for non-paying and also paying patients set up to provide an alternative environment for childbirth to the hospital wards.

Booth Hall Infirmary

In October 1908, a new 412-bed union infirmary, known as Booth Hall Infirmary, was opened at Blackley.
Following the formation of the combined Manchester Union in 1915, Booth Hall was redesignated as a children's hospital. By 1930, expansion of the premises had taken its capacity to 700 beds. In 1927, Princess Mary opened new pavilions at the west of the site which included 200 glass partitioned cubicles each containing a bed that could be opened to the air if required.
The Booth Hall Children’s Hospital closed in 2009 and the site  scheduled for redevelopment.


• Greater Manchester County Record Office (with Manchester Archives), 56 Marshall Street, New Cross, Manchester, M4 5FU. The relatively few surviving records include: Year books (1889-1914); Lists of Guardians and officers (1889-1914); etc.

Blackley,Manchester Poor Law Records, Lancashire England

Web Sites Gerard Lodge’s excellent website has images and further information about Manchester Workhouses and the history of the two Crumpsall sites.