Gloomy days of the workhouse are thankfully long gone in Westbury, but local people are being asked to come up with any memories to lend a hand with local research.
The workhouse was sited in Eden Vale and part of the building still exists, but in a completely new lease of life as tasteful flats and apartments for older people.
Now Sally Hendry, who has been researching the workhouse for almost two years, is keen to hear from anyone who has memories or local knowledge of the workhouse.
Sally said, “The workhouse shut for good in 1935 so it is sadly pretty unlikely there will be anyone with first hand knowledge of it, but there may be people who have heard tales of it or even who have family memories of it.
“It would be brilliant to be able to speak to anyone who can add extra detail to my research.”
Sally will be sharing her findings at a special presentation at the May meeting of the town’s heritage society.
Research so far has involved everything from poring over century-old minute books, letters and photographs, to talking to local people.
“For many years the workhouse provided shelter and very basic sustenance to many local people, especially in the time of greatest need. Many people think of Oliver Twist when workhouses are mentioned and it’s true there was some cruel and unfeeling episodes in its history, but it was far more than that,” explained Sally, who says her research has come up with scandals, tragic stories and even recipes for workhouse stalwarts such as gruel.
The talk about the workhouse will be at the Methodist Church foyer in Station Road, Westbury on Tuesday 30th May. It starts at 7.30pm and it is open to everyone. There is a small admission charge and refreshments will be served.
If you can help Sally with her research she can be contacted through the heritage centre in the High Street or on 01373 229981.