A parliamentary report of 1777 recorded local workhouses in operation
at Bradford (for up to 70 inmates), Chapel Allerton (2), Calverley with
Farsley (40), Clayton (20), Heaton (8), Horton (40), Idle (60), Manningham
(36), North Bierley and Bowling (70), and Thornton (30).
Eden, in his 1797 survey of the poor in England, reported of Bradford
The Poor are maintained in a Workhouse, in a convenient, airy situation
at a little distance from the town. There are 74 inmates, mostly old women,
old men and children.
In 1812, Bradford was one a several urban workhouses to issue poor relief
in the form of specially minted workhouse tokens. These were useable at
local shops and could be redeemed by shop-keepers at the workhouse or
union offices. These were intended to try and ensure that monetary relief
was not spent on unapproved goods such as alcohol.
Following the creation of the Bradford Union in February 1837, the town
was the scene of vigorous anti-Poor Law campaigning. This peaked in November
1837 during a visit of Assistant Poo Law Commissioner Alfred Power —
his meetings with the Guardians were disrupted and he was attacked by
a crowd. A contingent of six London police officers was sent to maintain
order. On 18th November, cavalry troops from Leeds were called in to quell
a mob attacking a meeting at the Courthouse. The Riot Act was read, and
over five thousand protestors, armed mainly with stones, fought a running
battle with the troops who responded with sabres and, eventually, muskets.