Site of Bangor workhouse


Link to Welsh translation

Bangor’s workhouse was on the slope where Home Bargains now stands. Poor people lived there and had to work for their upkeep.

Aerial photo of Bangor workhouse in 1963Local parishes helped their paupers until the law changed in 1834 and parishes grouped together in “Unions”. When the Bangor and Beaumaris Union advertised for its first workhouse master and matron in 1845, it offered an annual salary of £80. In 1853 the workhouse had 78 inmates, mostly children.

To celebrate Christmas 1869, the inmates dined on roast beef and plum pudding. The local community had donated fruit, buns, sweets and potted Christmas trees. In 1905 inmates enjoyed a trip to Barron Hill, Beaumaris, hosted by Lady Magdalen Bulkeley. They strolled around the grounds or listened to a gramophone on the lawn.

In 1906 two elderly inmates, from Llanllechid and Menai Bridge, “absolutely declined to quit the house and re-join their wives”! They were allowed to stay, with their sons contributing to their maintenance.

One Anglesey woman asked the workhouse to stop her husband leaving, as he was “better off there”. Despite his promise to her that he could live on two meals a day, she said she “could not keep him”. The perturbed man declared: “My first wife would never do such a thing to me.”

Aerial photo of Bangor workhouse in 1945In 1909 newspapers reported that “one of Buffalo Bill’s cowboys” had discharged himself from the workhouse infirmary. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show had visited North Wales in 1904.

In 1899 it was reported that Sunday dinner in the workhouse consisted of a hunk of dry bread and a “tasteless mass” of “so called” rice pudding.

In 1889 the master and matron were forced to resign after his “excessive drinking”; months later they lost their possessions in a fire at Bangor almshouses, where they used a spare room for temporary storage. All of the workhouse officials were dismissed in 1890 due to their quarrelling. 

The medical officer and the nurse were asked to resign in 1906 following complaints. In 1909 two other nurses were asked to resign and couldn’t be replaced because candidates were put off by the state of the workhouse infirmary and the damage that working there could do to their career prospects.

In 1910 the local government board’s architect condemned the infirmary “from top to bottom”. A site across the road was purchased from the Penrhyn estate for £2,000 for a new infirmary, later called St David’s Hospital. In 1914 the War Office used it as a base hospital for the whole of the western Division. The first wounded soldiers arrived in October 1914.

In 1923 the workhouse inmates were transferred to St David’s and the workhouse’s closure was agreed. The aerial photos are shown here courtesy of the Welsh Government. The upper photo shows the workhouse (lower half of photo) and nearby school in 1963. The other photo, taken in 1945, shows the workhouse (bottom right) and the hospital (top left).

With thanks to Dr Hazel Pierce, of The History House, and the Welsh Government

Postcode: LL57 4SG    View Location Map