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A portrait of life in the workhouse and its school in the early 1860s, from a child's point of view at least, appeared in the Poor Law Board's Annual report in 1874. Describing himself as "a ragged little urchin without shoes and cap", he recalls his arrival at the workhouse at the age of seven: After dinner an old woman came and took all my clothes and then showed me into the bathroom, telling me to get in and not be afraid.
It was written by a former inmate, who signed himself "W. R.", and who later graduated to the large district school run by South Metropolitan School District of which Greenwich was part. I should think I was not afraid, indeed, I had been too much used to water.
(The parish of Greenwich is sometimes referred to as "East Greenwich" in some old documents, to distinguish it from neighbouring West Greenwich — more usually known as Deptford.) The workhouse inmates were employed in spinning mop-yarn. per annum), a superintendant of spinning yarn (£8 8s.), his assistant who also read prayers (£8 8s.), a superintendant of spinning jersey (£7), her assistant (10s.), a beadle (£25), and a collectors (£38 on average).
In 1777, a parliamentary survey listed parish workhouses in use at Deptford—St Nicholas (up to 130 inmates), Deptford—St Paul (125), and Woolwich (100).
Accordingly, this Summer, a commodious House has been built near the Church, at the Charge of the Honourable Gentlemen aforesaid ; and at Midsummer, all such Poor, as receiv'd Weekly Pensions from the Parish, were admitted into it, to the Number of 900 odd, and are at present employ'd in the picking of Oakum, winding Silk for Throwsters, Spinning Jersey, and such other Work as they are capable of under Mr. THIS Undertaking being its Infancy, it does not yet appear what will be the Success of it ; but one good Effect it has already had, viz.[Up to 1834] [After 1834] [Staff] [Inmates] [Records] [Bibliography] [Links] Greenwich's first parish workhouse was opened in 1723, next to St.Alphege's Church, In 1725, the first edition of An Account of Several Workhouses...The workhouse of the parish of St Nicholas, Deptford, was established in part of a former mansion house dating from the 1650s known as Sayes Court.The Greenwich Poor Law Union was formed on 18th November 1836.