You are here: Home > This Month's Highlight > 2015 Archive > March 2015: Behave or be punished

March 2015: Behave or be punished

public assistance poster 1

The reasons for admission into the workhouse varied immensely. Many people were old or infirm, some had mental health issues, some were unmarried pregnant women who had been disowned by their family. The most common denominator was the fact that they were poor and unable to support themselves.

The workhouse was set up to provide relief for such people in their time of need. But upon arrival inmates were stripped, bathed and given a uniform - their own clothes being washed and stored for their release. People did not take the decision to go to the workhouse lightly as it was often a traumatic experience.

Inmates were expected to contribute to their upkeep by working within the workhouse. Women did the cleaning, laundry and kitchen work whilst men did hard labour such as wood chopping and stone breaking which could be used to make roads.

The workhouse had rules that were read out daily so that illiterate inmates had no excuse for not knowing them. Part of those rules referred to acceptable behaviour. Looking at this c.1930 Public Assistance poster (reference C/PA/Z3/2/2) behaviour was very important to those in charge as the punishment for misbehaving was quite severe. Being disorderly or refractory could result in food being rationed or even a spell in solitary confinement.

public assistance poster 1

public assistance poster 2


Leave a Comment

Fields marked with a * are required

0 response(s) so far…


Latest News
Stocktake and Christmas closure dates announced
Dates now available for when we will be closed this year
Distance Survey 2017 Results
BRO does very well in the latest survey of distance users
Visitor Survey 2016 Results
The results of the UK Visitor Survey 2016 are now available
We're Accredited!
The BRO is now an Accredited Archive Service
10,000th collection received at the BRO
The Berkshire Record Office celebrates receiving its 10,000th accession
Oscar Wilde and Reading Gaol online exhibition
New online gallery showcases Oscar Wilde and Reading prison

Latest Galleries

Oscar Wilde and Reading Gaol

Oscar Wilde and Reading Gaol
Biographies of Wilde and Berkshire's Victorian prison

Small Objects of Power

Small Objects of Power
An Exhibition about Medieval Seals

Enemies of the State

Enemies of the State
Irish Patriots in Reading Gaol

The Berkshire Echo

The Berkshire Echo 84
July 2018: Coleshill House and Estate - Conserving Coleshill - New to the Arc...