And now, unusually, a blog which has nothing to do with housing. In this article I am going to tackle poverty, homelessness, disability and how this was a major problem in our community. It will refer to ‘previous governments’ but on this occasion though the timescale is 1881 in the Union of Catherington (prior to the Parish of Horndean).
William Gladstone (right) was the Prime Minister of a Liberal Government in the reign of Queen Victoria. Topically as we have just had the Scotland Independence referendum, it is wroth noting that in 1881 the United Kingdom government of the day decided to create an act of law preventing the sale of Alcohol in Wales on Sundays. Nowhere else, just Wales. Imagine David Cameron PM laying down legislation to do this in Glasgow tomorrow for the health and good of the population. Alex Salmond would burst with fury. Godalming was the first town to have electric street lighting installed and we were in the middle of the First Boer War.
1881 was a census year, so the records are very good. They show that Clanfield had a population of 219 (now 4,637) and Catherington itself 944 (now Horndean with 12,942) Old records show that spending on the poor was £1.8s.8d per head (One Pound, 8 Shillings and 8 Pence). Such was the extent of financial hardship that workhouses were built extensively for the poor. A new workhouse was built in Catherington in 1835 to accommodate 80 inmates and the Poor Law Commissioners authorised a sum of £1,050 on its construction. (Photo below taken in 1977)
From the map below you can see the T Shaped building was opposite ‘The Good Intent’ on London Road. I wonder how ironic the naming of the public house was with a workhouse opposite…
The 1881 census has a separate listing for the occupants of the workhouse, and at that time there were just 30. This included the Master and Matron of Union House (James and Letitia Westbrooke) with their son George as a teacher, and the inmate residents. If you know anyone on the list then please comment on the article to share any knowledge you might have!
A Modern Day Update.
A few months ago you may have seen a homeless man under the Motorway bridge between Hornean and Clanfield. His name is Nigel and he was there for 3 nights having also spent some weeks on the streets in Portsmouth, Southsea, Havant and then Horndean. During the 3 nights in Horndean he was given food, non alcoholic drinks, money, blankets, pillows and a sleeping bag, all by Horndean residents who took the time to stop and speak to him.
On the third day he was taken to ASDA by a Horndean resident for new clothes, toiletries and other essentials while other residents contacted homeless charities, hotels and hostels to ensure he came off the streets that night, even if it were in a hotel until proper support could be found. While accommodation was being organised he bathed, shaved and dressed in new clothes. The local authority you have lived in and paid Council tax in has the legal responsibility to house you in emergency, so this was Portsmouth and Southsea. A homeless shelter in Portsmouth had one space free and took him in that night. He was driven there by Horndean residents and given some money to support himself over the next few days. The shelter took him to the right council officers to get the right support the next morning.
We have since heard from Nigel, about 6 weeks on. He is grateful to the people of Horndean for the compassion, support and generosity they gave him when in other areas like Southsea he was spat on and had rubbish thrown at him by youths. He was immediately housed in a shared home where he is getting the support he needs for finding work and rebuilding his life and feels very optimistic about the future.
He has not been on the streets since.
I am proud to live in Horndean.