I've been doing a spot of family research of late, and had cause to look at the 1881 Census Records of the local Workhouses Stockport and Ashton .
I came across a possible ancestor in the Ashton-Under-Lyne Workhouse.. Fanny Wigley aged 30 and unmarried. She is down as being a Lunatic… I know one or two reading this will think she’s not the only one in the Wigley family. I didn't come across a Wigley in Stockport Workhouse but found an interesting article concerning Hyde.
The newly formed Stockport Union continued to use an existing parish workhouse, while a new building was being erected 1841-2. Very soon after it opened it’s doors there was a widespread manufacturing slump which led to demonstrations and riots in many local towns… including Hyde. In August 1842, Stockport's workhouse was the attacked by a mob of unemployed workers.
One such account of the riot is below
"There are upwards of 20,000 persons out of employment in this place, who have no resources but those of plunder and beggary. On Saturday fourteen of those who took a conspicuous part in the riot and breaking open of the workhouse were committed to the nest Chester assizes for trial. The deluded men will have to remain six months in prison before their cases can be heard. Meetings continue to take place on the Waterloo-road, which are attended by many thousand persons. They are addressed by Doyle, Ellis, and other agitators. In their speeches yesterday they stated that the Tories, the Church, and the bishops, had caused the present state of things, and advised them to go round to all the shopkeepers to solicit alms. On Thursday morning a large body of rioters from Hyde invaded Stockport, and succeeded in turning out the people employed in the mills, hat-manufacturers, print-works, &c. They were afterwards reinforced by large bodies from the neighbourhood, and held a meeting of very formidable appearance. Owing, however, to the presence of the Altrincham, Dunham Massey, Tabley, and Stockport troops of the Cheshire Yeomanry, the peace was fortunately preserved".
"The more remarkable features of the proceedings in Stockport were the extortion of money from mill-owners as well as shopkeepers, and an attack on the New Union Workhouse, Shaw-heath, where the mob forced an entrance, and immediately commenced to help themselves to bread and money. No fewer than 672 seven pound loaves were taken away, and about £7 in copper. Information of this was conveyed to the authorities, and they hastened to the spot with the constables, yeomanry, and infantry, and captured about forty of the rioters, several of whom, however, were subsequently rescued. This occurred on Wednesday, and Thursday was spent in speechifying, parading Stockport, and planning future movements. On Friday morning the great body of the Stockport rioters departed for Macclesfield. All business at Stockport and the neighbourhood is effectually stopped.”
If you have never checked them out do so… what an interesting site it is..