Following on from researching my stories about the Ashton Poor Law Guardians and the Workhouse on my sister page Gay and Mike's Family History, I came across an unusual entry in the 1851 census fiche for the Knott Lanes Division of Ashton-under-Lyne. This was the existence of a fever hospital on Crickets Lane, but hardly any of the names could be read. The fiche for these enumeration districts had been transcribed by members of Manchester & Lancashire Family History Society from the original water damaged books. These books had previously been too damaged to microfilm and the volunteers had done a marvellous job.
Ray Hulley has been co-ordinating a group of volunteers at the Public Record Office at Kew for a number of years now, trying to retrieve as much information as they could from the water damaged sections of the 1851 Census. They have recently been given permission to recheck these sections using UV light and the capture rate has gone up significantly. Ray himself took the opportunity to recheck the Ashton returns and has now managed to fill in most of the names of the occupants of the Fever Hospital on census night 1851. The results of his labours can be seen at his webpage, please click here.
I was already aware of the fact that Ashton Poor Law Union maintained a separate building to be used as the Workhouse Hospital, but not not of its location, and the addition of a Fever Hospital as another separate institution came as a surprise.
Apparently in 1846 there was a new outbreak of Typhus in the parish, becoming increasingly severe over the next couple of years. Cholera and Famine Fever added to these difficulties, succeded in 1849 by "Irish Mange". With their usual tardiness the Ashton Guardians were dragging their feet. In March 1847 when typhus and cholera were epidemic in the town, the Medical Officer boldy suggested that the Guardians should employ a nurse to tend to sick inmates. This they eventually did at a derisory salary of three shillings a week. However the successful applicant sufferred from severe epileptic fits, so this arrangement didn't last long. Eventually the Guardians acted and rented three houses on Crickets Lane which were to be designated the 'Fever Hospital'.
As pressure continued to increase on the old Poor Law Workhouse on Market Street, the Guardians were forced to acquire a property on Warrington Street, to become the 'Workhouse Hospital' to treat the sick and injured inmates and relieve pressure on the old Workhouse, with Dr Robert Wood of Henry Square appointed its surgeon. Doctor Wood gave his opinion that the old Workhouse could house no more that 170 occupants, and as a result of an appeal to the Government, a new workhouse began to built in the fresh air of the Chamber Hills area of the town, intended to house 500 inmates. It was eventually completed in 1851, and patients from the old Fever Hospital on Crickets Lane were transferred to a ward in the new building.
Source: Winifred Bowman's "England in Ashton-under-Lyne"
Many thanks to Ray Hulley for his transcription.