Slumps in the local textile trade could lead to hundreds of handloom weavers suddenly in need of relief.This was more than the workhouses could cope with and would anyway have been very expensive for the Union - the cost of keeping someone in the workhouse was much more than giving them modest out-relief either as food or as a small cash payment.The surviving buildings have now been converted to housing known as Strickland Court.As noted above, the former Gilbert Union workhouse at Milnthorpe was retained by the Kendal Union for accommodating the aged and infirm, infants, able-bodied women, and unmarried mothers. The site included a block at the south with a semi-hub at its centre — a relatively unusual feature in workhouses of this period but found at a few other places such as Caistor. In 1918, the site became Milnthorpe Hospital for the Mentally Subnormal, later Milnthorpe Hospital.Dinner—Sunday, Wednesday, Friday, milk pottage and bread ; Monday, Thursday, Saturday, broth, boiled beef, potatoes and bread ; Tuesday, hough stewed, potatoes and bread. There were in the house on 4th April, 1795, 136 persons, viz., 57 males, 79 females, of which 38 were under 10, 26 between 10 and 20, 12 between 20 and 30, 8 between 30 and 40, 15 between 40 and 50, 4 between 50 and 60, 17 between 60 and 70, 10 between 70 and 80, 6 between 80 and 90. Men are generally employed out of the house ; women spin and make Kendal cottons, etc.; children are generally sent to the different manufactories, where they earn about 1s. Encouragement money is paid to the industrious, viz., 1d. The whole is built on an excellent plan, and is well conducted by the Governor, Mr. The paupers grind all the corn used in the house at a small hand-mill, and many of them are employed in weaving coarse linen-cloths, checks, linsey-woolsey, &c. Kendal, which in 1849 could accommodate up to 335 inmates, catered for able-bodied men, and children over 7 years.
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In 1861, Nicholson's Annals of Kendal described the workhouse as: ...a large, uniform building, two stories high, occupying three sides of a quadrangle, the fourth, which is the entrance, being open to the street.
It contains, for the purposes of the paupers, one large general dining-room, kitchens, store-rooms, sick-rooms, &c.
on the first floor ; and on the second floor thirty-five well-ventilated lodging-rooms, which contain eighty-nine good beds, supplied with sufficient comfortable clothing, and capable of accommodating two hundred persons ; together with suitable apartments appropriated to the use of the governor and his family.
In the yard behind the Workhouse stands a commodious School-room for boys, and the contiguous building, which was formerly the harden manufactory, is, the lower part of it, appropriated as a play-ground, and the upper part is used for dormitories.