Former Crickhowell workhouse, Llangattock
The buildings on the hillside west of the canal at the Dardy were originally part of the area’s workhouse, where poor people lived and had to work. The workhouse’s infirmary building is now Tŷ Croeso guesthouse.
The old photos, courtesy of Crickhowell District Archive Centre, show the workhouse in the centre of the view from across the valley, and Edith Davies, the workhouse’s cook before the Second World War.
There were several small poorhouses in this locality, including at Llangattock and Crickhowell, before legislation in 1834 led to parishes merging their facilities in Poor Law Unions. The Crickhowell Union – which included the Brynmawr urban area – bought and enlarged the Llangattock poorhouse, and by 1838 had transferred all the inmates from the Crickhowell one. The union’s relieving officer decided whether individual paupers should be admitted.
New buildings were constructed in 1871-2 and the site eventually included a master’s house, wards for inmates and “casuals” (vagrants), chapel, laundry, infirmary and mortuary.
As well as supporting the poor, Llangattock workhouse acted as a local hospital. In October 1898 relieving officer Francis Vaughan gave Elizabeth Davies of Brynmawr permission to go to the workhouse’s “lying-in ward” to deliver her baby. She left Brynmawr at 3pm but went into labour at the roadside after walking half the distance (c.10km) to the workhouse. The “fully developed” baby died and she spent the entire night walking back to Brynmawr carrying his body.
Many children were admitted to the workhouse after paternal desertion. In 1881 married collier James Mundee, past conductor of the Queen Street Chapel choir in Brynmawr, was ordered to make weekly payments for 16 years for the child he had fathered with 16-year-old Emily Jeffreys, who was a member of his choir before moving into the workhouse.
In 1899 Irvine Blennerhassett, clerk to the Crickhowell Union, charged Francis Vaughan with defrauding the union, but the case was dropped. In 1912 it emerged that Irvine himself had stolen c.£550 from the union and Crickhowell council. He fled to Canada but was tracked down, as you can read on our page about his former home.
The workhouse closed just before the Second World War, when the buildings housed soldiers. The mortuary has been demolished but the other buildings have since been converted into private dwellings and Tŷ Croeso.
Postcode: NP8 1PU View Location Map
With thanks to Helen Burns. Sources include the National Library of Wales and ‘The Crickhowell Union Workhouse:The Spike’ by Rev Margaret Williams and Eliane Wigzell (see link below)