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The new Reading workhouse followed the design of the East Grinstead workhouse built in 1859 which comprised receiving blocks, an infirmary and a fever block. The following year, the workhouse was renamed Battle Infirmary, reflecting it increasing role as a provider of medical care to the poor in the area, not just workhouse inmates.
(Vagrants continued to accommodated at the Forbury until 1892.) A competition between seven local architects took place to produce plans for a building costing no more than £6,700. Reading Workhouse - 1892 Infirmary from the south-east, c.1915. Reading Workhouse - 1892 Infirmary from the south, c.1915. Reading Workhouse - 1892 Infirmary from the south-east, 2000. Reading Workhouse - 1892 Infirmary from the north, c.1915. In 1894, the British Medical Journal set up a "commission" to investigate conditions in provincial workhouses and their infirmaries. Following the abolition of the workhouse system in 1929, the workhouse was taken of by the Reading County Borough Council and became Battle Hospital.
In January 1626, the town corporation paid William Kendrick (John's brother) the generous sum of £1,900 for his house and workshops on Minster Street, opposite St Mary's church, and with handy access to the Holy brook and Mill stream.The mayor and burgesses were to purchase: a faire plot of ground within the said towne...and thereupon shall erect and build a strong house of Bricke fit and commodious for setting of the poore on worke therein; or else shall buy and purchase such an house, being already built, if they can finde one alreadie fitting, or that may with a reasonable summe be made fir for the said use; the same house to have a faire garden adjoyning, and to be from time to time kept in good and sufficient reparations by the said mayor and burgesses for the time being for ever.The plans were revised in January 1867 to add an extra storey to the infirmary, adding £430 to the price. Two nurses were on duty at night-time, and pauper assistance was confined to activities such as cleaning and bed-making. In 1909-11 an additional infirmary block was added at the north of the site for up to 150 aged, infirm and convalescent patients. All the inmates were transferred to other workhouses in the area, and the infirmary patients moved to Grovelands School nearby. The cross-shaped main building contained an administrative block, wards and cells, together with a labour yard and labour master's house. The hospital finally closed in 2005 and the buildings have been demolished except for the gatehouse and board-room.
The total cost, including furniture and fittings, was in the region of £14,000. In addition, a new board room, administrative block and master's house were added. Within six weeks, the workhouse was transformed into the Reading Number One War Hospital which, linked together with more than twenty other auxiliary hospitals in Berkshire, constituted one of the country's biggest war hospitals. In 1849, the Reading Union joined with the neighbouring Wokingham Union to form the Reading & Wokingham School District and operated a residential school for pauper children at Gargrave until the early 1900s.The first inmates were admitted in August 1867 and by the end of the year the paid medical staff consisted of a nurse at a salary £20 per annum, an assistant nurse, and a nurse for the idiots and imbeciles. Reading then adopted the 'scattered homes' system for its pauper children, setting up a number of homes around the town, including: 82-84 Crescent Road; 'Camarra' and 'Rosemont', King's Road; 109 London Road; 11-13 Milman Road; 59 Queen's Road; 23-25 and 40 Russell Street; 'Wilson' and 'Clifford', South Street; and 'Ashberry' and 'Sutton', Southampton Street.