CASTLE WARD UNION WORKHOUSE IN PONTELAND
Castle Ward Poor Law Union came into existence in September 1836. There were 79 elected Guardians on the Board and they represented the 77 townships in an extensive rural area that were combined to form the Union. They ranged from Dinnington to Kirkheaton and from Heddon to Stannington. The total population covered was, according to the 1831 census, over 15 000 people. A parliamentary report of 1777 recorded a poorhouse at Heddon which was small and so a new Workhouse was built in 1848-49 on the North Road in Ponteland by local builder John Donkin on land bought from Matthew Bell. In 1887 an extension was built to serve as a hospital. In 1890 about one and a half acres were bought adjoining the north side of the Workhouse and in 1903 a board room and offices were added.
The building had several uses after closure in 1984, including housing YT students taking courses at Kirkley Hall and the last use was as a day nursery called The Cogs.
The workhouses were abolished in name in 1930 but the problems they were supposed to solve still remained and the workhouse in Ponteland was renamed the Poor Law Institution, still looking after the old, the sick and the incapable. It was the responsibility of the County Council’s Public Assistance Committee until 1948. In 1940 it became an emergency hospital for convalescent soldiers, TB patients, some evacuees and later post-operative patients from Newcastle General Hospital. When the National Health Service came into being in 1948 it continued as the Ponteland Hospital, run by the Newcastle Authorities, and nursing elderly patients mainly from the west end of Newcastle. It closed in 1993, was demolished in 1995, and the site bought for housing by Cussins. It was appropriately named Guardians Court. Some of the workhouse brick wall is still standing with its Victorian letterbox and now encloses the gardens of these town houses on the North Road.
The Ponteland Hospital which was housed in the extended workhouse buildings was closed in 1993 after a hard fought campaign to keep it open. It was a well regarded establishment employing a number of local people and had a very active Friends group which raised funds for extras for the elderly patients.