A party of 13 gathered at Ripon Workhouse Museum for a conducted tour by John Owen, our very knowledgeable guide. The building in the Dutch style dates from 1854. All classes of society feared the workhouse as any family could be hit by financial misfortune. Men and women were segregated and issued with institutional clothing, although the food was adequate but basic.  We saw the Board of Guardians’ room, the vagrants’ area where decontamination took place and the individual cells. The programme of work included stone-breaking and wood-cutting in the yard outside.
Members split up for lunch, some enjoying homemade food at Tiffins on site, others going into Spa Gardens to the cafe there on the first really warm day of the year.
At 1.30 all proceeded to St. Marygate where we were greeted by a Peeler in top hat and white breeches at the Police and Prison Museum.
The buiding was a prison in the 19th Century,then a Police Station until 1956. THe bleak prison cells now house a display of Police history and various methods of punishment.  John Taylor was put into the pillory and Mike South was about to be flogged at the whipping post but both escaped to enjoy another Forum season. One of the upstairs cells still has its ” punishment crank” with its adjustable screw to make the work easier or more difficult. This is the origin of the term “screw” for a prison warder. Thanks to John Holmes and Harry for showing us round.
I think everybody enjoyed the day although I had anticipated more support. Derek and I expect to be at Lucinda’s most Tuesdays from 11.30 during the summer and hope that others will sometimes be able to join us.

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