The Old Workhouse and Old Grenoside Hospital

Saltbox Lane 2 new

Grenoside Institution, later Hospital, Salt Box Lane, Sheffield, 1930 – c. 1989


Grenoside Hospital, formerly Grenoside Institution, was sited in buildings originally erected in the 1850s as Wortley Poor Law Union workhouse and fever hospital. At the end of Poor Law Administration following the Local Government Act, 1929, the workhouse buildings were altered for the reception of mental defectives.


By 1951 Grenoside Institution was described as consisting of three main blocks: the Main Block for male patients; the old Infirmary Block which housed 49 mentally defective female patients; and the Lodge, which provided the offices and staff quarters. The nearby former Infectious Diseases Hospital (built 1893) was then empty, although in 1949 the Minister of Health had directed it that should be used as an annexe to the Grenoside Institution, for the treatment of tuberculous mental patients. Failure to recruit the required staff in 1951 resulted in most of that accommodation being used for chronic sick patients from the surrounding area, with just the verandah block being reserved for tuberculous mental patients.


In 1954 an emergency ward unit for mental patients was erected in the grounds of the Annexe.


In late 1956 the Annexe (the former Isolation Hospital), then accommodating chronic sick patients, reverted to its original intended use of accommodation for bedfast mental defective patients; a number of male mental defectives were transferred there from Middlewood Hospital. Tuberculous mental defectives were accommodated in the cubicle block. The whole Hospital and Annexe combined could house a total of 182 mental defectives (134 males; 48 females).


In 1957 accommodation rose to provide for 212 male and female mentally handicapped patients.


In 1959 plans were first put forward to develop Grenoside Hospital, Aughton Court and Thundercliffe Grange to permit Hollow Meadows and Middlewood Hospitals to close. For the Grenoside site, plans were approved in 1960/61 for two new blocks, to accommodate an additional 80 patients.


By 1961 the hospital was described as of two units, divided by Salt Box Lane. The male side consisted of three blocks with a smaller unit accommodating the females.


By the mid 1960s around 50 mentally retarded (but not certified) women were accommodated at the Annexe which by 1969 largely catered for doubly handicapped women. All types of deficiency were catered for, and a number of patients also had physical illnesses. Plans to completely modernise the whole site and build extra villas featured in the Regional Hospital Board& apos;s capital programme, as part of Sheffield& apos;s scheme to accommodate mentally sub-normal patients.


By 1971 the three units provided accommodation for 208 patients: women in the Annexe, men in the main male block (the ex-workhouse building), and in the more recent hospital block. The main block was described as & apos;a Dickensian workhouse which remains a grim, dark inconvenient Victorian building … activities go on despite the lack of any real facilities& apos; it was a fire risk and its evacuation and replacement were strongly advised. In the grounds of the Annexe stood an old unused isolation block in a poor state of repair.

In 1985 the hospital was earmarked for possible closure in 1986/1987 as part of the transfer of the mentally handicapped into the community. The Southside wing of Grenoside Grange was vacated in March 1989.Wortley Workhouse (saltbox lane) no longer there

[A successor hospital, Grenoside Grange (Day) Hospital, 100 William Street, Sheffield, S10 2EB, is (2006) one of the facilities commissioned and provided by Sheffield Care Trust. It had a Respite Unit (a carer break facility) which closed due to staff shortage in 2003.]

Following the Local Government Act of 1929 and the demise of the old poor law administration, from April 1930 the workhouse ceased to be managed by the Poor Law Board of Guardians. It was run by the West Riding County Council as a Public Assistance Institution known as Grenoside [County Welfare] Institution and provided for the chronic sick. It was due for closure by c.1940 but the outbreak of the Second World War kept it open, with 44 beds.

In 1948, at the establishment of the National Health Service (NHS), both Grenoside Institution for mental defectives and the Annexe were initially placed under Sheffield No 3 Hospital Management Committee (HMC). The next year, in 1949, the Minister of Health approved the transfer to Sheffield No 2 HMC, within Sheffield Regional Hospital Board. In 1957 Grenoside Institution and Annexe were redesignated as & apos;Grenoside Hospital& apos;.

At NHS reorganisation in 1974 HMCs were abolished and the hospital was placed in the Northern District of the newly created Sheffield Area Health Authority (Teaching). It remained in the newly constituted Northern District after Sheffield Area& apos;s redistricting exercise in 1978.

Further reorganisation of the NHS in 1982 abolished one tier of management with the districts amalgamating to be reformed as Sheffield Health Authority, within Trent Regional Health Authority (from 1996 NHS Executive Trent).

Grenoside Fever Hospital / Wortley Rural District Council Infectious Diseases Hospital / Wortley RDC Isolation Hospital:

Just to the north of the workhouse site, across Salt Box Lane, stood the Grenoside Isolation Hospital. It was opened on 16 Nov 1893 at a cost of £9,500 and provided 32 beds for patients with scarlet fever, diphtheria, enteric fever and other infectious diseases. By the 1930s only half a dozen cases per month were admitted.

In 1949 the Minister of Health directed that this hospital should be used as an annexe to the Grenoside Institution, for the treatment of tuberculous mental patients. Failure to recruit the required staff in 1951 resulted in most of that accommodation being used for chronic sick patients from the surrounding area, with just the verandah block being reserved for tuberculous mental patients.

In 1951 the former Infectious Diseases Hospital consisted of 4 buildings, empty, but intended to house mentally defective adults. It became known as the & apos;Annexe& apos; to the main Grenoside Hospital

The hospital was administered through the Hospitals Committee of Wortley Rural District Council. After the establishment of the National Health Service (5 July 1948) it was administered jointly with the former Public Assistance Institution


The workhouse evokes the extremely grim Victorian world of “Oliver Twist”, but it’s story is a fascinating mix of social history, politics, economics and architecture. This write up dedicates the Workhouse, it’s buildings, inmates, staff and administrators, even it’s poets.

The very first Workhouse to be documented dates back to 1652 in Exeter.


I shall be concentrating on one particular Workhouse, not far from my childhood home area, in Grenoside, Sheffield.

These workhouses were originally erected to set poor people, the elderly, chronic sick etc.

Saltbox Lane 5


Poor relief would be granted to only those who were desperate enough to face entering the repugnant conditions of the workhouse. If an able bodied man entered the workhouse, his whole family then had to enter with him. Life in these workhouses were intended to be as off putting as possible. Men, children, the infirm, and able bodied were housed separately and given very basic food such as watery porridge (Gruel) or bread and cheese. All inmates were made to wear the rough workhouse uniform and sleep in communal dormatories. Supervised baths were given once a week. The able bodied were given hard work such as stone breaking or picking apart old ropes called Oakum…

In 1843, workhouses had been given the power to detain male tramps for up to four hours while they performed the required task of work. As stated above, a popular task was “Oakum Picking” which was picking apart old rope into its original consistant fibres in which the resulting product could be then sold off;;; Hence the expression you will probably have heard ” money for old rope”!! The women were given this job as well as the men, along with scrubbing, washing or cleaning! Once the vagrants had completed their work, they were given a token to receive a lump of bread and then released on their way.

Although it would seem like it, these workhouses were NOT prisons, People could just leave whenever they wished! Some people, known as the “Ins & Outs” would enter and leave frequently, treating the Workhouse like an actual Guest house… some, however, would stay there for the rest of their lives.

My visit to the site where the Wortley union Workhouse once stood… I remember it well…a very grim dirty dowdy dark building… Unfortunately no longer there… However the the one Administation Annexe still stands opposite side of the run as a Mental Home… Here are my photos taken recently…

Team Spirit Paranormal shall be revisiting this site to do some ITC sessions including the Spirit Box ans EVP recorders in the very near future, alongside Red Ridge-X Paranormal… So look out for that!! I hope you have enjoyed my write up on this once very sad grim dark place. There will also be followups to this piece.



Written by Lesley Hudson

Team Spirit Paranormal





Author: teamspiritparanormal1

I am Founder/Owner of Team Spirit Paranormal. I am a paranormal investigator based in South Yorkshire. You can find Team Spirit Paranormal on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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