Save our town's history: Protect the Melton Mowbray vagrancy cells
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In February 2016, the Melton Times reported that: "Melton Council is seeking to get listed building status for a block of vagrants’ cells at the town’s St Mary’s Hospital site on Thorpe Road."
The Vagrants' cells (also known as a casual ward) were built between 1890-1904 and attached to Melton's workhouse. The workhouse later become St Mary's hospital but the Vagrants' cells remained.
At the time, it was illegal to sleep on the streets, so vagrants with no money had to sleep in the cells.
In return for a bed for the night and minimal food, occupants had to complete four hours of hard labour, usually stone-breaking.
Many of its features remain intact, including the original cell doors, bedsteads and cabled alarm system.
More than 10 years ago an application for listing the building was declined, however it is believed that the requirements for listing have changed since the early 2000s. In early 2016, Melton Council sought to add an Article 4 direction on the building, meaning that the building could not be demolished without seeking the council's permission.
A consultant expert from the Museum of London Archaeology was asked by NHS (current site owners) to give his advice on the buildings and said: “The vagrancy shelter, although somewhat altered, is an interesting item but of no more than local interest.”
SO LET'S SAVE AND PRESERVE THIS AREA OF LOCAL INTEREST
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