The Eastville Workhouse project was launched in 2012 after some members of Bristol Radical History Group (BRHG) were studying an old ordnance survey map of Ashley Down and Eastville (1902). They noticed that the burial ground for the Barton Regis workhouse at 100 Fishponds Rd, Eastville, marked as disused in 1902, made up part of present-day Rosemary Green just round the corner from where they lived. After two years of research, BRHG members had not only gathered significant evidence that suggested bodies of the paupers remained at the site, but from the Bristol Record Office, details of over 4,000 men, women and children from the workhouse who were buried in the unmarked graves.
A number of articles were published by BRHG about the project in the summer of 2014, especially after the Galway babies scandal in June, which demonstrated that unmarked graveyards of the ‘forgotten’ paupers including many babies were commonplace in the UK. As a result the Eastville Workhouse Memorial Group (EWMG) was set up after a successful public meeting with local residents. The aim of the group is to raise funds for a permanent memorial to those who lived and died in Eastville Workhouse. Since the launch of EWMG, a number of people studying their family history have discovered from BRHG data that their ancestors lie in the unmarked graveyard at Rosemary Green.
Rosemary Green Burial Ground Data Sheets
The data sheets that contain the names of those who died in Eastville Workhouse and buried in unmarked graves can be found listed in “Rosemary Green Burial Ground Data“.
The book 100 Fishponds Rd. Life and Death in a Victorian Workhouse uses a combination of quantitative and qualitative evidence and looks at what life in the Victorian workhouse was like, who the inmates were and how they were treated. It considers their life chances once they entered the institution and what happened to them after they passed away.
Eastville Workhouse Memorial Group raised £10,000 to manufacture and install two memorials to mark the burial sites of the more than 4,000 paupers who were inmates of Eastville Workhouse at 100 Fishponds Road. The first, a Welsh slate standing stone, was unveiled at the site of the workhouse burial ground at Rosemary Green, Eastville in November 2015. In 1972 the Eastville Workhouse buildings were demolished in preparation for the construction of the East Park housing estate. During this process the burial ground at Rosemary green was crudely disinterred and some of the remains were re-interred in unmarked common graves at Avonview Cemetery in nearby St George. The second memorial, a gravestone, was installed at the site of these common graves at Avonview Cemetery in May 2019. Both memorials were manufactured and installed by local stone mason Matthew Billington.
In December 2016, as part of the Eastville Workhouse history project, a cast aluminium, painted plaque by local artist Mike Baker was unveiled on the surviving gates to the workhouse at 100 Fishponds Rd. The plaque shows a relief of Eastville Workhouse and Fishponds Rd in the late Victorian period and marks the location of the institution which remains a dark, but important, symbol in the history of East Bristol.