Sunday, 16 February 2014

Shadows outside the workhouse

A view of one of the derelict buildings belonging to the former St Thomas' Hospital.

The new Stockport Union Workhouse was erected in 1841. It was designed by Henry Bowman who was also responsible for the Congleton workhouse. It was built at Shaw Heath and was intended to accommodate up to 690 inmates.

The workhouse comprised a two-storey entrance block facing the main road at the south-west. Assorted other buildings were subsequently added at each side. The main accommodation building stood to the rear. It was a substantial red-brick building, largely four storeys high. Males were accommodated at the north side and females at the south. Children's quarters and school rooms were located in cross wings at each end of the main block, with the area to the front containing enclosed boys' and girls' exercise yards. To the rear, the men's and women's sides were divided by the kitchens, dining-hall and bakery. A wash-house and drying ground for laundering linen and clothes were located at the women's side, while a smithy and pig-sties were placed at the men's side.

In 1905, a new office and board-room block was erected at the west of the workhouse site at the corner of Flint Street which was featured in a post here on 4th February.

A plan of the workhouse in 1851 and photographs by Peter Higginbotham dated 2001 and 2006 can be found on the Workhouses website.

After 1912, the workhouse was officially known as Stockport Poor Law Institution. It later became Shaw Heath Hospital, then from 1954 was known as St Thomas' Hospital. The hospital finally closed in 2003 and the site acquired by Stockport College as part of their campus expansion plans. Although planned for completion in 2011, the buildings remain derelict.

A contribution to Shadow Shot Sunday.


  1. It;s hard to tell the difference between the branches and the shadows they make. The scene looks like a painting.

  2. Interesting background about this buildings. The photo is perfect.

  3. Just to hear about a workhouse brings sadness to my heart for those who had to live there.

  4. I hope the area eventually comes back to life.