‘prohibiting walking in the garden’

A letter from a pauper saying that the men are not allowed to walk in the workhouse gardens, printed in the Shields Daily News, April 25, 1868 Catalogue ref: MH12/9163

Poor Law Union: Tynemouth

Union counties: Northumberland


DEAR CHATHAM, – A Memorial was presented to the Tynemouth Guardians by the inmates of the workhouse, in order to rescind an order given by Mr Watson, the master, prohibiting the men from walking in the garden. He states that so long as all classes of the male inmates had free access to the garden, a proper classification could not be maintained. He suggested that the garden should be set apart exclusively for the convalescent from the hospital and the inmates of the imbecile wards. There is room sufficient for convalescents near the hospital to walk, and railing could easily be put up to keep them from mingling with the other men. With regard to the imbeciles, they are all working man with two exceptions, and they are the most innocent creatures in the establishment, so the inmates are now prohibited from inhaling the pure “air of Heaven” and cooped up in the North yard, a place not so large as the place allowed for common felons in the County goal of Morpeth. I’m not aware that the olfactory organs would rob any of Mr Watson’s flowers of their beauty of scent when taking a turn or two in the garden in the evening after their day’s work in the Oakum-house. I have made a rough calculation of the yard we are now cooped in, and it gives per man about twice the size of his coffin lid. Mr Watson has a very pretty ornamented garden, and a splendid green-house has been built for him, and I am well aware that no one would either injure the one or the other. Some years ago the ground to the south of the buildings, and adjoining the Tynemouth Church Yard, was granted by His Grace Hugh Percy, Duke of Northumberland, to the inmates of the Tynemouth Workhouse for a garden and recreation ground. Then why should it now be tabooed at the caprice of either master or guardians? I am well aware that we have a chairman of the Guardians whose whole career through life is that of a humane gentleman, a gem of the brightest water, and many colleagues likewise, and that they will not allow us to be cooped up, with a privy and urinal staring us in the face at one end, and lofty walls all round, almost excluding the fresh breezes of Heaven, but act up to what the real name of Guardian implies.

For and in behalf of the Inmates of the Tynemouth Union Workhouse,

Alexander Lesslie [Pauper]

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