Entrance to the
Westcliffe hospital complex
"it brings back
memories, I got married from Westcliffe in 1962. My fiancée was a
auxiliary nurse, and lived in the nurses home. She came over from
Ireland. the matron was Miss O'Hagan, she very strict but nice.
Westcliffe was self supporting it had its own farm, and piggery,
gardens, even its own fire station, and fire engine. When the nurses
went out they had to be in before 10pm, that's when the gates were
locked, they had to get a pass from matron, and tell the reason they
were staying out after 10pm"
Proposals for the site include retaining, refurbishing and fitting
out the existing lodge building, retaining boundary walls and access
gates and incorporating central gable features of the 1894 hospital
1894 date stone on
decoration on the
Next to Westcliffe
the remains of the perimeter pillars of the Victorian workhouse at
became a haven for the destitute
Bennett described the Victorian workhouse at Chell as the Bastille,
its grim reputation wasn't deserved in later years.
Life under the
strict regime at Chell might have been hard, but for destitute
families it was a good deal better than living on the streets.
Shufflebottom, former administrator at Westcliffe Hospital,
maintains that the old Wolstanton and Burslem Union Workhouse
adjoining the hospital was a refuge which undoubtedly saved some
"There was no
social security or family allowance in those days," she says, "so
the inmates of the workhouse were thankful to get three cooked meals
Between the wars
it became known as the Turnhurst Institution but continued to
perform the same role. it accommodated up to 350 people, including
many children who were given lessons in a schoolroom. Tramps were
still admitted, provided they were deloused.
Shufflebottom explains that in the 1940's the name was changed to
Westcliffe residential home. Tramps were barred and the last burial
took place in a paupers cemetery on the opposite side of the road.
The old building
continued to operate as a home for poor people until 1975 when the
300 residents were moved into five purpose built homes in other
parts of the city. It was demolished in 1993.
The Sentinel Newspaper, December 1997
more on Poverty and the Poor Law in Stoke-on-Trent