Bedworth Almshouses Today

The AlmshouseThe present Almshouse is a grade II listed building. It was built in 1840 designed in a mock Elizabethan style by notable Architect Thomas Larkins Walker, and built by Mr. John Toone at a cost of £8.500.  Nicholas Chamberlaine instructed that the Hospital, or Almshouse, should provide accommodation for the poor and needy of the town. However it was only to be provided for practicing Anglicans who had been born in the town or who were living in the town, and not for people of other faiths. In today’s diverse world the Bedworth connection is still important for those hoping to become residents, but the Charity no longer insists that they be members of the Church of England.

Almshouses are unfurnished flats designed with the independent elderly in mind. There are currently 28 flats with single and double accommodation on  both the ground floor and on the first floor. Each flat is self-contained with a lounge, kitchen, walk in shower and  with either one or two bedrooms. They are centrally heated and all residents share a well  equipped laundry and a residents lounge.

The aim of the Charity is to provide comfortable and convenient  accommodation in a setting that allows residents to come and go as they please.  Almshouses provide security and residents are encouraged to make friends and to share a wider social life through use of the communal lounge and other facilities when they are available.

An important factor at our Almshouse is the daily presence of a Scheme Manager as well as an emergency care call system in every home. In an emergency such as a sudden illness or a fall, a resident can quickly summon help.

The Scheme Manager is Mrs. Danielle Goff who has been in post since January 2021. She can be contacted by email: or by telephone in her office – 02476 312225  from Monday-Thursday 9.15 a.m. until 2 p.m. and on Friday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.  

Henry Bellairs Lounge – for Residents:  The room is named after a former Rector who, like Nicholas Chamberlaine, was to have a major impact on Bedworth. To find out more about him please visit the dedicated page on Henry Bellairs. The lounge is for the use of all residents and their visitors for social and recreational activities. The Scheme Manager is responsible for the room and will give help and advice about the process needed for using the room or for booking it for a special event.

Laundry:  The laundry is available to all residents. The Scheme Manager allocates time slots to each resident to ensure that laundry runs smoothly and efficiently. Lines for drying are also provided at the rear of the flats. 

Guest Room:  A self  contained room with an en suite shower is available for the guests of residents who may need a one or two night stay.  Fresh linen and towels are provided and a small charge is made of £15 per night.

Television:  A special concession is available under which residents only pay £7.50 each year for their television licence. It is available to all who are retired and of pensionable age under 75 years.  Sky and Broadband subscriptions are available should those services be required.  

Gardens:  The gardens have been laid out for the benefit of all residents.

Most flats have individual plots at the rear where shrubs and pots offer colour in the summer months and where residents can sit and enjoy the sunshine.  If residents are unable to care for their  plot, work can be carried out by arrangement with the Scheme Manager who may enlist the help of the Almshouses Handyman.

Detailed information about the services that are provided, Terms of Occupancy and general information about life in the Almshouses can be found in the Residents Hand book which is given to everyone who  becomes a resident. Please click on Becoming a Resident to learn more.

As the visitor walks from All Saints Square into the grounds of the Almshouses the eye is caught by an attractive square building standing in the centre of the quadrangle. Built at the same time as the Almshouses in 1840 the pump house was an essential part of daily life for the residents being the source of water for their daily needs.

Enclosed in the stone and brick building are two hand pumps, which unfortunately no longer work, and were used by the residents to draw water from the ground.
Bedworth was fortunate in being above a sloping seam of sandstone known as the Halesowen sandstone which in places was 100 ft thick and lying on top of a seam of coal. Being porous this sandstone absorbed and held water like a giant sponge and also acted as a very efficient filter and was also capable of transmitting it from one place to another. The bore hole for one of these pumps went into the sandstone ensuring a constant and clean supply of water.

The design of the Almshouses was very advanced for 1840 and would have had the approval of today’s green campaigners. A complicated system of pipes took all the rainwater from the roof of the Almshouses and drained it down into an underground tank under the pump house. The other pump went into this tank, providing the inmates with a supply of soft water suitable for washing their clothes.

The water supply at the Almshouses was the envy of the town. Whilst there were many pumps in and around the town, none of these were as deep as the Almshouse pump and as far as we know, none went into the sandstone layer.
Why the  town bore holes were not very deep is unknown but it has been speculated that no one wanted to risk breaking into one of the many coal mines around the town, which in most cases were very close to the surface.

Shallow bore holes were the cause of much serious illnesses such as typhoid and scarlet fever in the town. A combination of no proper sanitation, cess pits and middens being the norm in the 19th century, which often overflowed causing serious contamination of the water. The pumps in the town usually dried up in warm weather, the usual solution to this was – off to the Almshouse pump. This was frowned upon by the governors of the Almshouses as the following item in the Parish Magazine shows.

Water at the Almshouses
From Parish Magazine July 1884

"It is found to be inconvenient that persons should be coming at all times of the day, and the governors therefore decided at their Whitsuntide meeting that it should only be fetched at certain hours, and then only by those who have leave to do so. The hours fixed upon are between 8 and 9 in the morning and 4 and 5 in the evening. An order was also given to the Clerk occasionally to have the gate locked for a whole day so to preserve the Governors right and to show that persons are only allowed to fetch water on sufferance. In no case is any soft water to be taken."

1899 saw the sinking of the 1500 foot deep Newdigate pit on the west side of the town. With water running down the incline of the sandstone it was necessary to continuously pump the pit to allow removal of the coal. But the moment that Newdigate Colliery began pumping water out of its workings, the water in the Bedworth pumps dried up.

The solution was to build the Bedworth Water Works and Tower and pump water from the pit to a tank at the top from where it could supply the town by means of gravity. The tank was fed by a 6” diameter bore hole which was 275 feet deep. The new water supply was insufficient for the town so water had to be pumped from the excess water at the Newdigate Pit.

There was another distinct advantage from this, the Newdigate Pit water being of a superior quality to that of the Bedworth bore hole water. This was because the farther the water traveled down the Halesowen sandstone layer the purer it became. Analysis and comparison of the water showed that it was far superior to the water we drink today.

The 150 foot high water tower and works, built by the new Bedworth Water Company, were completed in the summer of 1900 at a cost of £12,228, the tower being insured for £1,000.
As the population of the town grew, bigger and deeper bore holes were required before the town was completely supplied by mains water.

Eventually the water from the Almshouses pumps were replaced by a supply from the water tower with cold water taps being installed in each of the flats.

In the early 1950s the local water supply was replaced by a supply that was piped from the Welsh reservoirs.

Following a campaign by the Bedworth Society the 154 year  old Pump House was restored in 1994.

Registered Charity Numbers

Nicholas Chamberlaine’s Hospital and Sermon Charity (216930)
Nicholas Chamberlaine’s School Foundation (528672)

The Hospital and Sermon Charity is a member of the Almshouse Association and is able to provide Data Protection and Safeguarding Policies on request. The School Foundation is also subject to Data Protection and can also provide Policies on request.

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