Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: May 12, 2020
Webpage updated: May 12, 2020

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The parish of Stoke Damerel originally had a Poor House but this was replaced in 1777 by the Stoke Damerel Parish Workhouse in Duke Street. 

The expenditure on the poor of Stoke Damerel parish was 9,841 in 1848.

It was reported in 1850 that there had been as many as 470 paupers in the old workhouse.  Although it had been enlarged many times it had become too small and inconvenient and was to be replaced by a larger and more commodious one.  At that time the Governor and Matron were Mr and Mrs James Lancaster.

In 1858 a Doctor Rowe impeached the manor authorities for allowing the abandoned workhouse in Duke Street to be colonised by 227 persons.   It was not demolished, however, until circa 1875-1899.

A new workhouse was erected on the west side of Wolseley Road between 1852 and 1854 by Mr Stidson (Stitson ?)of Plymouth at a cost of 9,595 exclusive of fittings.  Mr Alfred Norman was the superintending architect.  Although 10,000 had been allowed for the building of the workhouse, the tenders received ranged from 19,389 19s 4d to 22,159 16s 8d!  The site, which were fields 403 and 404 of the  Manor of Stoke Damerel map, covered 4 acres and housed 600 inmates.  The workhouse was first occupied in October 1854 and was to have room for 500 paupers and 35 inmates in the attached lunatic asylum.  In January 1855 it was reported that although 10,000 had been spent on the workhouse, it had useless lavatories and no separation of the sexes in the building.

Part of the main buildings of Devonport Workhouse.

Part of the main buildings of Devonport Workhouse,
which was demolished during 2006.
  City of Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery.

The main block was three storeys high and faced south-east.  At the rear was an infirmary that was originally two storeys high but had a further storey added later.  This may have been in 1898 when 4,000 was recorded as having been spent on building additions.

It later became known as the Ford House Public Assistance Institution.  The main buildings were demolished during 2006.