Workhouse shame still as strong today

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The query from Glennis Radcliffe and Paul Kenny regarding No 2/12 Herries Road being put on death certificates is easily explained, it was part of the Fir Vale Hospital which was the workhouse.

In 1906 it was known as the Sheffield Union Hospital, the Sheffield Union being the Workhouse.

In 1930 it was renamed the City General Hospital and by 1967 it was re-named once more to the Northern General.

People being what they are, if any relative died at No 2 Herries Road, it was given the postal address No 12 in the 1930s.

The relatives still related this hospital to being the old workhouse and proud people didn’t want the thought of their loved ones being classed as dying in the Fir Vale Hospital because of the connection. Even today any old Sheffielders still think of the Workhouse when this address is mentioned.

Even though the workhouses have long gone, the shame of dying in the Workhouse or the Fir Vale Hospital and having it placed on a death certificate was a double shaming, so the address of the hospital was put on the birth or death certificates.

The shame of any connection to the workhouse is still as strong today as it once was.

Vin Malone

by email

Babies also often had this address on their birth certificates.

Unmarried mothers had to throw themselves on the mercy of the workhouse when families disowned them or were unable to support themselves,

It was a nicer way of declaring their place of birth or death, don’t you think, rather than brutally putting the workhouse?

I’m afraid, Paul, your relatives, without help from their families or social handouts had to enter the workhouse when they were out of work or too ill to work.

It makes 2015 seem extremely more appealing to live in when you’re down on your luck or ill or disabled.

Isabella Ranskar

Footnote: Children of the ‘scattered homes’ tells the story of a pioneering scheme, begun in 1893, to take poor children over three years old out of the workhouse and bring them up in homes scattered across the city.

It was broadcast in April and is still available to listen to on BBC iPlayer Radio