Tonbridge Union Workhouse

Much has already been written about the old workhouse on what is now the site of the modern hospital.

Built in 1836 it was the local workhouse and infirmary to house, feed and tend for the poor, destitute and sick of the area.
Toward the end of the nineteenth century there was greater industrialisation and better chances of employment resulting in the
transformation of workhouses to infirmaries.
The early decades of the twentieth century, and the impact of the first world war, saw an expansion of local hospitals on former workhouse sites.
Most of its original buildings were demolished in 2011.

Site of former Pembury Hospital, formerly Sandhill Infirmary and before that the Tonbridge Union Workhouse.
Was used as a Voluntary Aid detachment (VAD) Hospital during World War 1.
Original hospital buildings were closed and demolished in 2010/11 and the replaced by the Tunbridge Wells Hospital on the same site.
Historians are still debating when exactly the general workhouse system came to an end. Some date its demise to 1930 when the Board of Guardians system was abolished and many workhouses were redesignated as Public Assistance Institutions, becoming the responsibility of local councils. Others date it to 1948 and the introduction of the National Health Service, when many former workhouse buildings were turned into public hospitals, many of which still survive today.



The following links give much of that information –

Workhouses web site –

1881 Census of staff & inmates –

BMJ Report on Tonbridge Workhouse & Infirmary 1895 –

General History  –

Pembury Workhouse 1901 Chris Jones  –

1881 Census data of inmates –

Pembury Village News  No 133  March 2008 Page 24 –

Workhouses in Kent –


Above – map of the Workhouse, c1890        For more see maps on Localities/Tonbridge Road page.