November 2012: The Alfred Williams Heritage Society is delighted to announce that we have been awarded a £5,000 grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of its All Our Stories programme.
We will take Alfred's description of the Swindon and Highworth Union Workhouse at Stratton in 1912 as a starting point for a project that will collate known information about the institution, recent research and brand new research, culminating in the publishing of a book.
We are also planning to present illustrated talks about our findings, compile a new section on this website and are working with the Digital Building Heritage group of De Montford University in Leicester to produce an animation and 3D digital computer model that will bring the long-demolished workhouse buildings back to life.
Two key aspects of the project will be to trace the stories of those real people who are mentioned in Alfred's description, as well as the building's evolution into St Margaret's Hospital.
Society vice-chair Graham Carter said: "We are really excited to get this grant because we are aiming to take Alfred's observations about the workhouse and bring it to life again. We believe the past helps us to understand the present and prepare for the future, and the story of our local workhouse and the hospital that succeeded it is sad but compelling.
"By looking at conditions as they were in the building's history and comparing them with how Alfred saw them and how health/social care is today, we hope to provide an insight into the workhouse system and how it affected real people."
The project's success depends on involving local people, so we are appealing for information from anybody with connections with the workhouse or the hospital. Click here to find out how you can help.
Our project is part of the All Our Stories programme, launched by the Heritage Lottery Fund in November 2012 and due to run throughout 2013. It was developed alongside the BBC2 series, The Great British Story: A People's History.