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After more than a year's work, the Alfred Williams Heritage Society's project about the Swindon & Highworth Union Workhouse is complete.

The project has been supported by funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) as part of their All Our Stories series of projects.

The chief result of our researches is a 224-page book called In The Shadow of the Workhouse, launched by the Mayor of Swindon, Cllr Teresa Page, on December 11, 2014.

The Mayor actually features in the book as her reminiscences of working at St Margaret's Hospital (which was on the site of the former workhouse) are included in a chapter called Stories and Memories, along with transcriptions of interviews with many other people who came forward to our appeal to people who had personal connections with the workhouse site.

The book takes, as its starting point, the visit that Alfred Williams made to the workhouse infirmary, which he wrote about in his 1912 book, A Wiltshire Village.

We looked at the conditions and the changing scene of the workhouse a century ago, including an analysis of inmates in the 1911 census; traced the story of the site after the workhouse; and made a number of visits to premises to see 21st century care/welfare compares with the workhouse.


The following are images from the book, reproduced courtesy of Swindon Libraries/Local Studies.