Dover Index

Buckland and the Union Workhouse


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Buckland Hospital, Dover - formerly the Dover Union
The Dover Union was the first building in the area known as Buckland Bottom - the wide hollow between Chapel Mount and Bunker's Hill.

"On Thursday 16th July 1835, a meeting of the new River Union Building Committee took place at Buckland Bottom, when the site of the new Union Workhouse was selected.  It was agreed that it should stand well isolated from all other buildings, facing the road (St Radigund's) leading to Coombe Farm; and as soon as that decision was made, upwards of fifty labourers, belonging to the different parishes, who had assembled, furnished with picks, shovels and wheelbarrows, were immediately set to work to excavate and level the ground in preparation for the building operations."   (J.B.J. 1907)

The Workhouse was a last resort for most people and was designed to be a deterrent rather than a refuge.

"The original Buckland Bottom Workhouse, as a building, is not of historical importance.  It was designed on the plan approved by Sir Francis Head, the then all-powerful Poor Law Commissioner, in the form of a quadrangle, as like a prison and as unlike the cottage homes to which the paupers had been accustomed, as possible."   (J.B.J. 1907)

For more pictures and information about Dover Workhouse, and other workhouses throughout the country, see, maintained by Peter Higginbotham.

For pictures and information about Buckland Church, follow this link
The construction of the railway embankment across Buckland Bottom in 1859, with the two bridges over St Radigund's Road and Union Road, greatly altered the appearance of the valley.  The narrow roadways under the bridges are an indication of the small volume of traffic that was expected to use the roads.  Traffic lights were installed in Union Road (now Coombe Valley Road) some years ago to control single-lane traffic under the bridge.