Fringe Box



Film Company’s Interest in Evolving Spike Heritage Centre

Published on: 15 Nov, 2012
Updated on: 15 Nov, 2012

The Spike Heritage Centre in Charlotteville, Guildford, has been contacted by a film company interested in making a series of workhouse / Poor Law based programmes at the restored building.

The grim cells of the casual ward at the Spike Heritage Centre.

Owned and run by the Charlotteville Jubilee Trust Ltd, the building is the ‘casual ward’ that was once part of the Guildford Union Workhouse. It was where, in harsh conditions, homeless people (once called tramps) could get a bed for the night.

The centre is open to the public at certain times and tells the story of what life was once like there based on the year 1906.

The chairman of the trust, John Redpath, has been asked by the film company whether he can find any descendants of past inmates of the workhouse here in Guildford. He knows full well that this is a hard task, but there just might be people out there who, in researching their family history, have come across a forebear who “ended up in the workhouse”.

John said: “They have asked me to find a living relative of a past inmate of the workhouse who would have been there in the late 1830s or 1840s. There are a number of local names that spring to mind such as Strudwick and Tickner, but so far I have had no luck getting a positive trace back.”

If anyone thinks they can help, contact John via the Spike on 01483 598420. Email:

Bath time for a tramp at the Spike.

The Spike continues to add artefacts to its collection that it displays in situ in the fascinating recreation of the casual ward at the workhouse. Just recently it has taken delivery of a large stoneware bath, very similar to the original one that would have been there.

John said: “We bought if from a couple in Gateshead who had purchased it for their home, but it was a bit too big for them.”

It is believed that the tub was originally used in a public baths, somewhere in the North East.

John is now hoping to acquire a number of beds, exactly the same as those once used in the ‘cells’ of the casual ward at Guildford. They currently reside in a former hospital building in Wales.

The reception area of the Spike where newly admitted homeless people ‘on the road’ waited for a bed for the night in one of the cells. The heritage centre is well worth a visit, see its website for details of visiting times. You don’t have to stay a full night!

The project continues to build on the rich history of the workhouse buildings there that eventually became Warren Road Hospital and then re-named St Luke’s Hospital. In 2011, the centre began a new project to look into the story of how the workhouse infirmary evolved into an important NHS hospital, by asking people to tell them about their time at the hospital, either as a staff member or as a patient.

The response has been fantastic, but there is still time to add your memories. So, if you can help, do call on the number or email address listed above.

To view the Spike’s website and all the activities is runs, click here.

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