The mas­ter or ma­tron did a roll-call

Black Country Bugle - - YOUR LETTERS -

20 sacks. One bushel would have pro­vided about 42 pounds of flour or 60 to 73 loaves of bread de­pend­ing on the size. Bread it­self, once again sec­onds but best sec­onds, 500 4 lb loaves per week. Su­gar, 800 lbs, and loaf su­gar (the usual form in which re­fined su­gar was pro­duced un­til the late 19th cen­tury), amount 65 lbs. Salt but­ter, 800 lbs; cheese 700 lbs; fine mus­tard; tea, 60 lbs; lin­seed meal; vine­gar; cof­fee berries, 30 lbs; pep­per corns; soda; salt per cwt; and peas, blue, white or grey per bushel (30 bushels).

Mouse pieces

Fur­ther food items in­cluded 3 sacks of coarse oat­meal; 800 lbs of English and Amer­i­can ba­con; beef de­scribed as rounds, crops and mouse pieces per lb, and mut­ton, fore quar­ters, quan­tity 500 lbs per week; and suet. Al­co­hol in­cluded porter per gal­lon; ale (East In­dia Pale) per gal­lon; and port wine, sherry wine, gin and brandy (French) all per gal­lon.

Mis­cel­la­neous items in­cluded pale yel­low and good mot­tled soap, 500 lbs and 550 lbs re­spec­tively; soft soap, 100 lbs; best starch; black lead; and can­dles, 260 lbs. There was also a re­quest for ten­ders to sup­ply cloth­ing and ma­te­ri­als in­clud­ing 100 men’s mole­skin suits; 50 men’s grey suits; 50 boys’ jack­ets and trousers; 5 doz. men’s hats, 6 doz. pairs of men’s grey worsted stock­ings; 6 doz. pairs of women’s black worsted stock­ings; 3 doz. pairs of girls’ black worsted stock­ings; 600 yards of stout brown cal­ico; 200 yards of white cal­ico; 400 yards of dou­ble-width hur­den sheet­ing; 300 yards of sin­glewidth hur­den sheet­ing; 400 yards of flan­nel; 300 yards of hur­den; 50 pairs of blan­kets; 3 doz. pairs of men’s clogs; 3 doz. pairs of women’s clogs; 3 doz. pairs of boys clogs; 3 doz. pairs of girls clogs; and 3 doz. pairs of chil­dren’s clogs. 1 dozen pairs of boys’ boots and 1 doz. pairs of girls’ boots.

That is quite a shop­ping list and must have had the var­i­ous sup­pli­ers in and around Stour­bridge chomp­ing at the bit to ten­der their wares and ser­vices.

The pub­lic no­tice, by or­der of W. B. Col­lis, clerk of the Board of Guardians, stip­u­lated that all ten­ders would have to be re­ceived no later that De­cem­ber 17 or they would not be ac­cepted. All the ar­ti­cles were also to be de­liv­ered free of ex­pense, at such times and in such quan­ti­ties as the Guardians di­rected. Fi­nally it stated that the Guardians re­served to them­selves the power of re­ject­ing the low­est or any other ten­der. The rules on ten­der­ing were strict and had to be ad­hered to.


In the era of the par­ish work­house Christ­mas Day was the tra­di­tional oc­ca­sion of a treat for most in­mates. How­ever af­ter the new union work­houses were es­tab­lished no ex­tra food was or­dered and the in­mates spent a mis­er­able day. This was the case in some but not all work­house unions, and judg­ing by the amount of food and drink, etc., ex­pected to be de­liv­ered to the Stream Road site, the se­vere rules seem to have been relaxed some­what. Fol­low­ing the mar­riage of Queen Vic­to­ria and Prince Al­bert in 1841, the Vic­to­rian cel­e­bra­tion of Christ­mas took off in a big way, with the im­port­ing of Ger­man cus­toms such as Christ­mas trees and giv­ing presents, etc. Per­haps the main hall where the in­mates were fed was decked with holly and at some stage a Christ­mas tree may have been in­tro­duced.

By the mid­dle of the cen­tury, Christ­mas Day and more of­ten Boxing Day had be­come a reg­u­lar oc­ca­sion for the Board of Guardians to visit the work­house and dis­pense food and kind­ness. In 1877 Ge­orge R. Sims, a cam­paign­ing jour­nal­ist, pub­lished his fa­mous mono­logue “In the Work­house: Christ­mas Day” and the first verse is as fol­lows:

“It is Christ­mas Day in the work­house,

And the cold, bare walls are bright

With gar­lands of green and holly,

And the place is a pleas­ant sight.

For with clean-washed hands and faces,

In a long and hun­gry line

The pau­pers sit at the ta­ble,

For this is the hour they dine.”

A lit­tle cheer at Christ­mas in the work­house

Mem­bers of the Board of Guardians visit in­mates of the work­house at Christ­mas

Christ­mas in the work­house

List of goods for ten­der 1857

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