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However, despite redecoration and the purchase of new furniture, it was still described as "an old...straggling, inconvenient building in the centre of the town in a close and bad situation." In 1842, an adjoining "house of correction" or prison was converted to provide vagrants' accommodation. Male inmates worked at stone-breaking while women performed washing, cleaning, cooking and the repair of clothes.A newspaper report of the time recorded: AMONG the improvements lately carried out in Scarborough is a workhouse, which has recently been erected, situated in Deanstreet, leading to the Cemetery.The group of buildings will accommodate from two hundred to three hundred inmates. ; the entrance gateway forming a pleasing feature, being composed of moulded white bricks with a bold keystone over, which is a large shield with the Scarborough arms carved in high relief.Scarborough Poor Law Union came into existence on 10th January 1837.The Union's operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 35 in number, representing its 33 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one): Yorkshire—North Riding: Ayton East, Ayton West, Brompton, Broxa, Burniston; Cayton, Deepdale and Kilberby; Cloughton, Falsgrove, Filey, Folkton, Ganton with Brompton, Gristhorp, Hackness, Harwood Dale, Hutton Bushell, Irton, Lebberston, Muston, Newby, Osgodby, Sawdon, Scalby, Scarborough (3), Seamer, Sherburn, Silpho, Snainton, Stainton Dale, Suffield with Everley, Throxenby, Troutsdale, Willerby, Wykeham The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 17,920 with parishes ranging in size from Willerby (population 38) to Scarborough itself (8,369).The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1834-36 had been £5,444 or 6s.1d. The new union initially continued to use the existing workhouse building at Waterhouse Lane.
However, by the 1780s, the town's workhouse was described as "a substantial brick building capable of holding 150 persons".
An accompanying illustration showed the layout of the site with the entrance block at the front, the central main block, and the infirmary at the rear. The entrance block provided accommodation for new admittants, together with the board-room and other offices.
Scarborough workhouse entrance block from the north-east, 2001. Scarborough workhouse arms above central entrance archway, 2001. The entrance block was extended to the east in about 1897 and a casual ward and stone-breaking cells added.
The infirmary at the back is appropriately on the highest part of the ground (being nearly twenty feet higher than the front), and is thoroughly well lighted and ventilated; and, although the building, as a whole, is free from the expensive ornamental decoration that too often characterises similar establishments, it possesses, from the artistic mixture of brickwork, a most attractive and substantial appearance.
The whole of the buildings are well supplied with water and lighted with gas ; and these advantages, coupled with a capital system of drainage, make the sanitary regulations all that could be desired.