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Latitude: 51.7866 / 51°47'11"N
Longitude: -4.7387 / 4°44'19"W
OS Eastings: 211202
OS Northings: 213321
OS Grid: SN112133
Mapcode National: GBR CW.YP7Z
Mapcode Global: VH2P5.TC67
Entry Name: Allensbank
Listing Date: 15 October 1997
Last Amended: 15 October 1997
Source ID: 18974
Building Class: Health and Welfare
Location: On high ground to the SE of the A478 / B4315 junction, midway between Narberth and Templeton
Locality: Narberth Mountain
Traditional County: Pembrokeshire
Allensbank was built as the Narberth Poor Law Union workhouse in 1838. The Union was formed under the 1834 Act to cover 50 Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire parishes. At first three existing poorhouses within the Union continued to be used for the provision of indoor relief, but in 1837 the Narberth guardians resolved to construct a single workhouse. The Haverfordwest Union workhouse was already in process of construction, to the designs of William Owen, architect, of Haverfordwest. The Narberth guardians resolved to adopt the same design. It's construction is the local stone, designed in the simplified Tudor style generally considered appropriate for workhouses. The Narberth guardians were keen that Mr Owen should reduce any ornamentation of the building to a minimum.
The order to build Narberth workhouse for 150 inmates was issued on the 12th of May 1838. After a tendering false start J Thomas and Son of Narberth were eventually selected as contractors. Their tender of £2220 was accepted, payment to be in four instalments. Completion was scheduled for the 1st of December 1838 but the work ran over time. The perimeter walls were not completed before the builder was dismissed in April 1839; they were later completed by another builder, William Lloyd. The guardians had to borrow money commercially to pay the contractor, and their disputes with him over unfinished work went to arbitration. The guardians met in their boardroom at the new workhouse for the first time on the 10th of June 1839.
Before its completion, on the 16th of January 1839, a mob attempted to burn the workhouse down, committing the guardians to extra expense in employing special constables to protect it. A more serious attack on the building was apparently made in 1843, when a mob said to consist of 600 Rebecca Rioters were only repulsed by the arrival of the Castlemartin Yeomanry; but the Assistant Poor Law Commissioner, William Day, denied that any serious incident had occurred.
After the repeal of the Poor Law the old workhouse, Allensbank, became a County Council Old People's Home. It was sold into private ownership in 1965 and closed in 1972. It is now run as holiday accommodation.
The original ground storey layout of the workhouse is fully known. As usual in this generation of workhouses, the establishment contained all the disparate elements of orphanage, house of industry, vagrant lock-up, and geriatric care. The front range (at N) contained the main entrance and office, the guardians' boardroom, the schoolteacher's room, male and female receiving wards and a bathroom. There was also a small windowless punishment cell named the black hole. In the middle range of the building there were day rooms for men, women, boys and girls respectively, and a foul ward. In the rear range there were a further day room for women, the nursery, and a day ward for old women, plus the vagrant ward and wash-house. In the centre of the building was a dining room and in the two linking sections the master's accommodation and the kitchens. Latrines and washing troughs were located in the four courtyards.
The building consists of three parallel E/W ranges with linking blocks on the centreline. The layout creates four courtyards which are closed by high perimeter walls. The main range containing the original guardians' boardroom faces N, and is the only part of the design to be embellished. The original layout survives externally with remarkable completeness and the presence of some minor modern additions does not obscure the overall form.
The masonry is a local purplish coloured sandstone, hammer dressed, on a plinth of grey limestone. Limestone is also used as the casing of the two main entrance doors. The plinth is rock-faced to create a contrast of texture as well as colour. The masonry at front is coursed, but at rear and in the rear and central ranges it is generally uncoursed rubble. The slate roof has been relaid and the door and window joinery has mostly been replaced.
The front elevation, facing N with a view across the valley to Narberth, is in five parts. The outer two parts are of one storey, the inner three of two storeys. The central part is emphasised with three tall gables, coped and decorated with blind cross-loopholes with oeillets. Each of the five parts is a range of three windows. The upper windows have Tudor label moulds. Two broad square string courses mark the first floor level. The main doors, in the centre part, are of vertical boards with cover strips and sham iron hinges.
The remainder of the building is of a utilitarian design. It is all of two storeys apart from the S linking block. This part has an unusual roof form with half-hipped ends abutting the central and rear ranges.
Recent additions are easily distinguished. An external stone staircase at the W end of the rear range is also an addition to the original layout.
In the central range and in the north linking block the original stone staicases with wrought-iron handrails remain in place.
Listed as an important surviving workhouse of the Poor Law Amendment Act period retaining much of its original construction and with the original layout virtually intact.
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