Weaver Hall Museum is housed in the old Northwich Union Workhouse. Workhouses were large buildings designed to house the poor who had no money for their own food or rent. The workhouse building was designed by George Latham, an architect who had worked on nearby Arley Hall. The workhouse was completed in 1839 and served 61 parishes in the mid-Cheshire area, hence the Northwich Union. It was able to house up to 300 inmates, though surviving records suggest it usually operated at two-thirds capacity.
As was common practice in workhouses, there were separate wards for men, women, boys and girls. There were later additions of a proper bath house, hospital and a large boardroom for the Guardians of the Workhouse. With the formal abolition of workhouses in 1930, the Northwich Union Workhouse was renamed Weaver Hall and continued as a public assistance institution, providing housing for the destitute, elderly and infirm, though many still viewed it as a workhouse with all the social stigma that had formerly been attached. The building continued in use until 1964, and in 1968-9, the men’s and women’s wards were demolished.
The remaining building opened as a museum in 1981. Today Weaver Hall Museum provides an intriguing insight into the workhouse history of the site along with displays exploring local industry, social history and archaeology.