The Day the Spike Closed Down

4 Spike users

On 31st May,1962 the Spike finally closed down as accommodation for the casual poor or tramps as they were now called. There would no longer be a Reception Centre for tramps at St Luke’s. James Feeney, a regular caller said that it was a calamity for tramps.

Researcher Naomi Taylor found this article while searching Surrey Advertiser archives at the Surrey History Centre.

Visit to the ‘Workhouse – segregated lives’ exhibition

This month, we visited the Florence Nightingale Museum to see their new exhibition ‘Workhouses- Segregated Lives‘.

Photo of Florence Nightingale: Florence Nightingale from Carte de Visite circa 1850s

Photo showing some of the SLHHP team at the workhouse exhibition
The SLHHP team at the workhouse exhibition

Throughout the 18th and early 19th century, Florence Nightingale was a dominant figure in nursing. She revolutionised the way in which military hospitals were administered and used statistics to reinforce her ideas – quite unheard of for a female of Victorian society!

One of her biggest achievements was the introduction of professional nursing in workhouse infirmaries. Before these reforms, workhouse inmates cared for their fellow sick – what a job!

Nightingale was also interested in hospital design. The ‘Nightingale Ward’ system featured heavily in new Victorian hospitals – including new workhouse infirmaries such as the Guildford Union Workhouse. These long wards allowed for the circulation of fresh air and to admit sunshine in.

Photo showing the Spike goggles on display
The Spike goggles and workhouse coin on display

We found the new exhibition an interesting perspective of life within the workhouse and we were curious to see how a project of similar theme can be displayed for the public. We were most excited to see our workhouse coin, protective goggles and oakum – from the Spike Heritage Centre – on prominent display for the first time. The Spike goggles even featured in an article in The Guardian, which was very exciting! It’s certainly given us food for thought and we can’t wait to put together our own exhibition showcasing our research of St Luke’s Hospital – from a workhouse infirmary to a NHS hospital.

The ‘Workhouse – Segregated Lives’ exhibition is on at the Florence Nightingale Museum until the 5th July.

‘Workhouse – segregated lives exhibition’

Don’t forget to visit the ‘Workhouse – Segregated Lives‘ exhibition at the Florence Nightingale Museum! They are showcasing some items from the Spike Heritage Centre, Guildford including the stone breaking goggles as featured in the Guardian!

Dates: 28th February – 5th July 2013

Key dates:

Thursday 14th March – Dissecting the Workhouse Dead
Historian Ruth Richardson will explain the terrible fear of the pauper funeral, its historical roots, and its long shadow into our own times.

Thursday 24th April – Contagion in the Workhouse
Historian Andrea Tanner examines how workhouses cared for the unfortunate victims of infectious diseases that raged through the streets of Victorian London.

Thursday 9th May – ‘Down and Out’: The Lives of Tramps and Vagrants (1750 – 1950)
Simon Fowler will look at the experiences of vagrants and the attempts to help or hinder them in the bleak casual wards of the workhouses.