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The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1834-36 had been £22,574.The new union workhouse was erected in 1840 junction of Woolwich Road and Vanbrugh Hill.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 layout comprised a two-storey entrance block containing the board-room, porter's lodge, probationary wards, refractory wards and vagrants' wards.
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.THE Weekly Bill of Fare for this House is much the same as in other Places. By May 1729 there were 70 inmates in residence, including 26 children who were all "decently lodged, fed, cloathed, and taught." In 1753, Greenwich promoted a parlimentary Local Act (26 Geo.2 c.101) to place administration of poor relief into the hands of a Board of Guardians elected from the local ratepayers.THE House Expences for one Week, when 90 were in Family, was as follows. The 1723 workhouse proved inadequate for the demands placed on it and in 1765 the Greenwich Guardians began renting land off Maidenstone Hill occupied by a building known as the Pest House.THAT a Vestry be holden in the Parish-Church the first Sunday in the Month, by the Gentlemen aforesaid, and as many of the Parishioners as please to attend, to inspect the Overseers Accounts for the Month past ; and likewise examine the Houshold Expence of Provisions received by the Master, and that a Voucher do appear for each Article then delivered.THAT there be a Minute-Book kept, to enter all such Matters as shall happen in and out of the House, in order to be laid before the Committee at the next Meeting.