Somerset

Victorian workhouse memorial unveiled in Bridgwater

l-r Cllr Mike Cresswell, Cllr William Wallace and Cllr Graham Granter Image copyright Sedgemoor District Council
Image caption The memorial includes three information boards about the site's history and the town's brick-making past

A memorial dedicated to a former Victorian workhouse has been unveiled.

The site of the Bridgwater Union Workhouse in Bridgwater, Somerset, is being replaced with a primary school, due to open in September.

County councillor William Wallace said it was "right we don't forget the past" and the opening of a new school would be "a bright new chapter".

The workhouse was built in 1837, at a cost of £7,500, and housed about 300 people.

After the repeal of the Poor Law in 1930, and the eventual abolition of workhouses, the site became a hospital and registry office.

'Lasting reminder'

The medical site was relocated to the east side of the town in the 1980s and parts of the old buildings demolished.

Sedgemoor District Council and Somerset County Council decided to demolish the remnants of the site in the Northgate area because it was "not possible or affordable to redevelop the existing building".

Councillors said a new school was "much needed in the town" due to a 20% increase in demand for school places in the past five years. It will have 14 classrooms and a nursery.

Bridgwater's mayor Graham Granter said: "Life in the workhouse was very harsh, and it is better that there is a new school on the site, rather than the remnants of the workhouse.

"The bricks used to make the memorial came from the hospital workhouse building, so it is a lasting reminder of those times."

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