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Work in the workhouse

Within the workhouse various work tasks were undertaken. Female inmates would often be involved in the daily running of the workhouse, such as doing the cleaning or helping in the kitchen and laundry. Some workhouses had workshops for spinning and weaving where products would be made to provide an income for the workhouse. Many of the men would work in the workhouse's vegetable garden and piggery, helping to provide food for the workhouse.

In rural areas such as Herefordshire the inmates would often be employed in agricultural labour such as: stone breaking (used for road surfaces); corn grinding; bone crushing; and gypsum crushing (for use in plaster). These were physically demanding tasks, often given to the men of the workhouse. They were not paid for the work that they did but any money made went towards the running of the workhouse.

A poster from Hereford Union Workhouse in 1909 states the work that was required of casual paupers. It says:

"The task of work for casual paupers when Breaking Stone shall be the following, viz:

"3cwt. when detained one night only.
"10cwt. daily when detained for more than one night.

"Such Stone must be broken to such a size as to pass through holes in the screen provided for that purpose, such holes being two inches in diameter.

"By Order, R. Moore, Clerk."

(Hereford Record Office, BC79/11/11)