Exploring a 19th century workhouse - Brindle, nr Chorley

As a Chairperson of the Lancashire Archaeology Society I had been approached by local historian, Mr Bernard Fleming, who was keen to do some fieldwork on the workhouse site, close to his home in Brindle. The workhouse at Brindle began in 1734 and had a most unsavoury reputation for its cruelty and poor conditions. Its position high above Preston is very bleak and cold - conditions were grim for the inmates. The work house was destroyed in 1871and the stones from the buildings sold. Mr Fleming wanted to know if there were any remains left below the surface which could help him to determine the internal layout of the structure.

So, students from UCLan volunteered to come along over a weekend in April and do a little research work. Firstly, we conducted a geophysical survey over the site and then dug some very small test pits in seemingly interesting areas. We also section drew the back wall of the field which we thought might be part of the original structure. Finds came from some initial field walking and produced pottery in the 18th- 19th century range. One piece was the rim of a 17th century pot which demonstrated the change in kiln technology in this period, the rest was domestic yellow glazed dairy ware and domestic tin glazed pottery.

We found some areas of cobbling which may have been associated with courtyards and paths of the workhouse and certainly the pottery is within the range of its existence. Most evidence though had been destroyed through the subsequent use of the site as stabling, piggeries and allotments. However, the activity attracted a lot of community interest, people stopped to ask questions and to give their views on the work, which perhaps is the point of community archaeology !

Archaeology Research Group