This organ was originally used in the chapel of the workhouse in St Mary’s Road, Portsmouth. The workhouse was opened in 1846.
Some families would find themselves with no money or out of work. Sailors’ families were often poor as the navy was slow to pay wages. With no other option they would be forced to go into the workhouse.
Conditions were harsh, food was plain and families were split up. Inmates slept in different parts of the building according to age, gender and physical health.
Males were at the west and females at the east. A central corridor ran the length of each wing with rooms off to each side.
The end of the nineteenth century saw the beginning of a major expansion of hospital facilities at the south of the workhouse site. Sections for the mentally ill were added.
The site later became known as St Mary's Hospital. The main workhouse building itself has now been converted to residential accommodation.
It is still possible to play this particular organ given a certain amount of time to prepare it. However those who are able to do so should first contact the staff at the Portsmouth City Museum to see if an appointment can be made.
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