From as early as I can remember there was always talk of the workhouse and the Board of Guardians. With large families and very low wages, it only needed a minor tragedy for a family to have to apply for parish relief. This meant going to the Relieving Officer who would ask all sorts of questions and tell you to sell any of your posessions of value. If there was nothing, he would assess the ability of either husband or wife to work. After exhausting all this he would grant the rent and bread according to the number in the family. A great many old people who could not support themselves would have to go into the workhouse at Hillingdon or Isleworth, husband and wife parted perhaps for ever. Tramps used to make their way from one workhouse to another for a bed, and had to do some task before leaving in the morning. Workhouses had a very bad reputation.
Well I remember with what joy my Granny drew her first 5/- ( 25p ) old age pension. This was in 1909, and thankfully with the coming of Lloyd George’s National Insurance in 1912 things got gradually better.