Just a little into the history of the GNBC building, we had a brief visit on Friday, 8th January 2016, by Jim Maynard, photographer for www.hertsatwar.co.uk who had been investigating into the history of the building that is now home to GNBC. During the Great War this building was home to a workhouse for children. Of course, it still is a workhouse, but what did a workhouse actually mean all those years ago?
Children whose families could no longer keep them safe at home would be housed here in return for working for their keep, it could have been any kind of job but not necessarily anything nice. There were also orphans and strays that would do the same. Life inside the workhouse was far from fun and intended to be as off-putting as possible. Men, women, children, the infirm, and the able-bodied were housed separately and given very basic and monotonous food such as watery porridge called gruel, or bread and cheese. All inmates had to wear the rough workhouse uniform and sleep in communal dormitories. Supervised baths were given once a week, the able-bodied were given hard work such as stone-breaking or picking apart old ropes called oakum. The elderly and infirm sat around in the day-rooms or sick-wards with little opportunity for visitors.
Evidently a lot has changed since these times, we even have our very own vending machine now!