Billericay Workhouse Entrance

The Lodge in Norsey Road
by Ian Fuller

This gatehouse was built in 1840 and was the original entrance to Billericay Poor Law Union, usually known as Billericay Workhouse. It was from here that male and female entrants to the union were separated, even married couples, and taken to their own areas. Any children were also separated and sent a nursery area, so that family’s effectively ceased to exist. It was known variously as the Gatekeeper’s or Porter’s Lodge and was also where any inmate’s once a week day passes were checked. Able bodied were expected to work to earn their keep, men gardening for example, while women did more menial tasks like separating the strands of second-hand rope. As a result of this work ethic the epithet workhouse was probably acquired this soon after they were introduced.

Situated in Norsey Road it was built to match the style of the original main building. It has become a listed building and shown here looking neglected in the 1970s. By this time it formed part of St Andrew’s Hospital but was disused since other more practical entrances to the hospital had been provided. In the late 1990s, when the hospital site was redeveloped; due to its size it proved to be difficult to sell. So, despite its listed status, a small extension was permitted to make it into viable accommodation. It has become a pleasant, if isolated, house remote from the main redeveloped hospital site.

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