|(Catalogue ref: MH12/15070)
Huddersfield Workhouse Horrors.
Scandal at Andover nothing in comparison!
Last Monday, an important parish council meeting of the ratepayers
of Huddersfield took place in the town’s Guildhall. The crowded
hall was attended by some of the most important people of the town.
The meeting had been called by the Overseers of the poor to discuss
with the ratepayers of Huddersfield, the health and general treatment
of the poor. The overseers listed below have been charged by the
ratepayers to carry out an inquiry into the treatment of the poor
at Huddersfield workhouse. The charges made to the Poor Law authorities
suggest worse cruelties than were found at Andover. Further information
on the medical relief in the town has been given by Mr T.R. Tatham,
whom for last four years has been standing up for the poor and the
interests of the ratepayers. Therefore, the overseers feel it is
necessary to call a meeting of the ratepayers to discuss the facts
of the case so steps can be taken to repair the damage done to the
The overseers of the town of Huddersfield having received their
instructions from a ratepayers meeting to set up an inquiry into
charges concerning the sick and poor in Huddersfield workhouse now
present their report.
The overseers heard the evidence of the Medical Officer for the
Northern division of the town, where the workhouse is situated and
several nurses who have looked after the poor in the workhouse and
the fever hospital. They have also made inquiries at the workhouse
itself. They have reached the conclusion that the poor have been
treated very badly. They are still without clothing or bedding and
have been forced to remain in the most terrible state. Patients
have been forced to remain for 9 weeks without a change of bedding.
New patients have repeatedly had to use beds previously occupied
by patients who have died of typhoid. These beds were mere bags
of straw or wood shavings, swarming with lice, and placed on the
floor. Patients suffering from infectious fevers were constantly
forced to sleep in the same bed. It was not unusual for a patient
to be sharing a bed with somebody whom been dead for some time.
For months they have not had properly assigned nurses looking after
them. Male paupers look after female patients. The sick have been
left in a shameful state, having to remain unwashed, often covered
in their own excrement. Drugs ordered by the doctor have frequently
been withheld. In the fever hospital, where patients’ lives
depended on the consumption of wine, supplies were lacking for 48
hours at a time. According to the medical officer this increased
the death rate amongst the patients.