Bridgend and Cowbridge Poor Law Union, Workhouse/ Public Assistance Institution, and Cottage [Children's] Homes Records

Scope and Content

Records of the Bridgend and Cowbridge Poor Law Union and of the Workhouse/ Public Assistance Institution and Cottage [Children's] Homes, 1836-1952, including Board of Guardians minutes, 1836-1930; ledgers, 1883-1930; salaries register, 1928-1930; and printed lists of paupers, 1894, 1895, 1915; Workhouse/Public Assistance Institution (including Workhouse Infirmary/Glamorgan General Hospital) admissions and discharges, 1921-1930; creed registers, 1904-1934; registers of births, 1914-1947; registers of deaths, 1903-1950; registers of patients, 1936-1948, and operations, 1923-1948; emergency hospital register of casualties, 1939-1943; maternity registers, 1912-1944; master's report books and journals, 1914-1931; and account books, 1911-1936 (no records have survived for the workhouse for the period 1838-1903); Cottage homes/Preswylfa, admission and discharge registers, 1879-1946; creed registers, 1879-1919; indoor relief registers, 1931-1948; superintendents report books and journal, 1923-1948; visitors' report books, 1913-1935; inventory, 1887-1899; and account books, 1925-1952; relieving officers' lists and account books (incomplete), 1924-1930; vaccination registers (incomplete), 1892-1948; [rating] assessment committee minutes, 1862-1927; rural sanitary authority and Penybont Rural District Council minutes, 1872-1895; ledgers, 1880-1895; letter books, 1880-1901; and school attendance committee draft minutes and related papers, 1882. No records for the Bridgend Assessment Committee have been deposited in the Record Office.

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1836, the County of Glamorgan was divided into five Poor Law Unions: Bridgend and Cowbridge, Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Neath and Swansea. The Bridgend and Cowbridge Poor Law Union comprised 43 parishes. The Board of Guardians of the Bridgend and Cowbridge Unions consisted of members for each of its constituent parishes. Most matters (particularly in the early years) were dealt with in the main meetings of the Guardians, but a separate committee was set up for the management of the 'cottage homes' (children's homes) in 1878, and for the workhouse in 1896. Separate committees also dealt with the Board's non-Poor Law functions: rating assessment, school attendance, and its responsibilities as rural sanitary authority. A Union workhouse was built on Quarella Road, Bridgend, in 1838, and an infirmary was added later. Cottage homes for children were opened in 1879, also in Bridgend. Outdoor relief was administered by local relieving officers, each responsible for a relief district. In 1930, the poor relief responsibilities of the Bridgend and Cowbridge Union were taken over by the Public Assistance Committee of the Glamorgan County Council, which continued to run the workhouse (renamed the Public Assistance Institution) and the cottage homes, and to provide outdoor relief. The workhouse infirmary which became the Public Assistance Hospital and the Public Assistance Institution taken over by the National Health Service, becoming the Bridgend General Hospital. The cottage homes (renamed 'Preswylfa'in 1950) continued to be run by the County Council, which retained responsibility for the care of children. As far as the non-Poor Law functions of the Bridgend and Cowbridge Board of Guardians were concerned: from 1840, until 1930, they were responsible for vaccination in the whole of the union (responsibility for this function then passed to Glamorgan County Council); they were also responsible for rating valuation throughout the union from 1862 until 1925 (when responsibility for supervision of rate assessment passed to the Bridgend Area Assessment Committee, advised by Glamorgan County Council); in 1872 they became responsible as the rural sanitary authority, for matters relating to public health in all of the union except the areas covered by the Bridgend Local Board of Health and the Cwmdu Local Board; three further areas were subsequently made urban sanitary authorities and excluded from the rural sanitary area: Ogmore and Garw Local Board, set up in 1887; Cowbridge Borough in 1888; and Porthcawl Local Board, established in 1893. In January 1895, the Guardians' responsibility for public health in the remaining areas of the Union passed to the newly-created Penybont Rural District Council. From 1876, until 1903, they were responsible for school attendance in those areas of the Union not covered by School Boards.


Arranged by type and date.

Access Information

Some of the records (in particular records relating to the workhouse and the cottage homes) contain material of a sensitive nature relating to named individuals. These records are closed to the public for 100 years. They may be viewed only at the discretion of the Glamorgan Archivist. These records are stored in an outside repository. They should be ordered at least a week in advance of an intended visit so that they can be brought into the Record Office for consultation in the search room.

Acquisition Information

Minutes, ledgers, vaccination registers and relief lists of the Board of Guardians were deposited by the Glamorgan County Council [Social Welfare] Area Officer, Bridgend in 1947 (acc. nos. 10 and 21), by the Director of Social Welfare/Welfare Services in 1947 and 1949 (acc. nos. 55 and 166), and by the County Treasurer in 1947 (acc. no. 76). Registers and other records of the workhouse were deposited by the Master of the Public Assistance Institution in 1947 (acc. no. 11); minute books, registers and other records of the cottage homes were deposited by the superintendent of the children's homes in 1958 (acc. no. 1213). Board of Guardians Assessment Committee minutes were deposited by the Clerk to the Bridgend Area Assessment Committee in 1949 (acc. no. 160). Rural Sanitary Authority records were deposited by the Clerk to Penybont Rural District Council in 1952 (acc. no. 440). Correspondence, 1861-63 (listed as U/B 17), was deposited by H.J. Randall, solicitor, Bridgend, in 1949 (acc. no. 199); lists of paupers and abstracts of accounts were deposited by a private individual in 1953 (acc. no. 561); and papers relating to school attendance were found loose in a Bridgend and Cowbridge Highways Board minute book in 1955 (acc. no. 861).


Compiled by Hayden Burns for the ANW project. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Glamorgan Record Office, Catalogue of records for Bridgend and Cowbridge Poor Law Union; Riden, Philip, Records Sources for Local History, (London, 1987).

Archivist's Note

Compiled by [INSERT NAME] for the Glamorgan Archives, with reference to [NAME ANY PUBLICATIONS USED].

Conditions Governing Use

Normal Glamorgan Record Office conditions apply.

Appraisal Information

In spite of the different custodial histories of the various deposits, the records were reunited on deposit in the Glamorgan Archives, and together with certain other items of totally different provenance, arranged as one collection.

Custodial History

The custodial history of these records has not been documented, but it appears that they did not remain together as a record group, but were divided between the different successor bodies to the Board of Guardians. The Rural Sanitary Authority records seem to have passed from the custody of the Board of Guardians to Penybont Rural District Council at some point in or after 1895, while the assessment committee minutes seem to have been transferred to the Bridgend Area Assessment Committee in or around 1927. Most of the records of the Board of Guardians as a Poor Law authority (mainly minutes and ledgers) probably remained in the board offices at Quarella Road, Bridgend, passing into the custody of the Glamorgan County Council (specifically, of the Area Social Welfare Officer, Quarella Road), although certain stray volumes appear to have been transferred to County Hall. The records of the workhouse/public assistance institution remained in the custody of the master of the workhouse/institution, and the records of the cottage homes likewise remained in the homes.


Accruals are not expected.

Related Material

Related material in Glamorgan Archives: GCPA, Records of Glamorgan County Council, Public Assistance/Social Welfare Committee; GCCH, Records of Glamorgan County Council, Childrens Committee; GCRA, Records of Glamorgan County Council, County Rate Assessment Committee; GCCV, Records of Glamorgan County Council, County Valuation Committee; GDS, Records of Glamorgan County Council, Public Assistance Department; DHBR, Records of Bridgend General Hospital; RDPB, records of Penybont Rural District Council; UDBRS/1/5, Plans of the workhouse submitted to Bridgend Urban District Council for planning approval; DX 437/1, Statement of accounts of the estate of the late Miss Alice Thomas of Wick [a pauper]; DLOV 10, Photograph of Miss A.N. Davies of the Graham Hotel outside the Bridgend workhouse; DRA 15/11-16, Papers re disputed election to the Board of Guardians, 1886; DXEI 10/55, Abstract of Accounts and list of Paupers, 1872.

Geographical Names