The first Board meeting of the Guardians of the Dartford Union took place in May 1836 and the Union continued to be run by the Guardians until 1 April 1930 when its responsibilities were transferred under the Local Government Act of 1929 to Kent County Council. Under this new system the parishes which comprised the old Dartford Union became part of the Dartford and District Area under the control of the Kent County Council Public Assistance Committee.
PARISHES WITHIN UNION
- East Wickham
- Horton Kirby
- Stone near Dartford
- Sutton at Hone
The parish poorhouses continued to be used until June 1836 when the parish poorhouse of Dartford was used to accommodate the old, infirm and able bodied men, the Bexley poorhouse to accommodate the children and the Swanscombe poor house for the able bodied women until the Union Workhouse was built. The inmates from the Bexley and Swanscombe poorhouses were admitted to the newly enlarged Dartford Workhouse during May and June 1837.
From November 1915 the inmates were removed from the Workhouse as the buildings were taken over by Vickers Limited as accommodation for their munitions workers. The Workhouse was again occupied by the Union in 1920 with the old men and old women being accommodated in the former Scattered Homes of Manor Gate and the Mount use prior to the War to accommodate the children.
The workhouse buildings were taken over by Kent County Council in 1930 and became known as the Dartford Public Assistance Institution. At a later date it was also known as the County Hospital, Dartford, King Edward Avenue Hospital and West Hill Hospital.
The remaining buildings are now privately owned.
BURIAL OF INMATES DYING IN THE WORKHOUSE
The normal practice for persons dying in the Workhouse was for them to be removed to their parish of settlement (if within the Union) for burial or in the parish where the Workhouse was situated, which for the Dartford Union was Dartford. If a person died in an institution which was situated out of the Union’s area they were normally buried in the parish of that institution.
Following the Burial Acts of 1852-1857 burials may also have taken place at a cemetery built and operated by the local Burial Board.
BAPTISM OF CHILDREN BORN IN THE WORKHOUSE
The Baptism of children born in the Union Workhouse would normally only take place under exceptional circumstances unless the licence given to the Chaplain of the Workhouse included permission to carry out baptisms in the Workhouse Chapel. Baptisms could also take place in the parish church closest to the Workhouse, in this case Dartford, or the parish of settlement.
From 1 January 1905 the address recorded on the birth certificates of children born in the Workhouse was entered as “37 West Hill, Dartford”.
The children at the Bexley Workhouse attended the National School in Bexley from August 1836. On the removal of the children to the new Dartford Union Workhouse in 1837 the children were educated in the Workhouse.
From 1869 the children attended the local schools.
Between January 1842 and May 1842 the boys were removed from the Workhouse and sent to Mr Drouet’s (Grove House) at Brixton, Surrey. They returned to the Dartford Workhouse in July 1844.
From October 1869 orphaned and deserted children were boarded out with foster parents where possible.
In March 1903 the girls were removed to the Union’s new children’s home at Manor Gate, Wilmington.
From May 1913 the boys were accommodated at the Union’s new children’s home at Mount Pleasant, Wilmington
In November 1915 the children were removed to the Shirley Homes, run by the Bermondsey Union, following the acquisition of the Workhouse by Vickers Ltd. Later on children were also sent to the St Georges in the East Union School at Upton Park.
Children were also sent to other specialist institutions run by other Unions, charities or private individuals.
INMATES RECEIVED FROM OTHER UNION WORKHOUSES
INMATES SENT TO OTHER UNION WORKHOUSES
From November 1915 the inmates were removed from the Workhouse and sent to the Bermondsey, Bromley, Gravesend and Medway Unions and also to some of the institutions run by the Metropolitan Asylums Board.
LOCATION OF SURVIVING UNION RECORDS
Kent History and Library Centre, Maidstone, Kent
DOCUMENTS WHICH HAVE BEEN TRANSCRIBED
Bexley Workhouse Admission and Discharge Register – 1836 to 1837
Swanscomb Admission and Discharge Register – 1837
Dartford Admission and Discharge Registers – 1836 to 1841
Minutes of the Board of Guardians – 1836 to 1841
Correspondence Out Letters – 1839 to 1841
– SEE “LIST OF SURNAMES”