SPEAKER at the recent meeting was Peter Watson and his subject was Abandon Hope — Life in the Workhouse.

The members, when asked, thought the workhouse was a bad thing but Peter proved that the alternative was much worse.

When times were bad, families often became destitute and to apply to enter a workhouse was a better option than starvation.

It was a place where people found shelter and food. They would be given materials in relation to their trade and produce goods to sell which would maintain the house.

Food consisted of cheese, bread, meat and vegetables while beer was the common drink. The standard of food was often better than outside.

The last of the workhouses closed in the 1950s after 200 years.

In the early days, conditions inside were hard and families were segregated, although people could leave if they wished and did do when work was to be found on the outside.

The passage of time brought better conditions and it could be said the workhouse had a good place in its time.

Next meeting will be on February 18.