Ripon couple unearth a 1930s tramp’s nightgown

Brian and Ailsa Coe with the 1930s tramp's nightgown they found at home
Brian and Ailsa Coe with the 1930s tramp's nightgown they found at home

A Ripon couple have discovered a piece of the past whilst spring cleaning.

Brian and Ailsa Coe unearthed a huge tramps nightgown from the 1930s while cleaning out their cupboards and took it along to the Ripon Workhouse Museum to find out more.

Museum curator Anthony Chadwick said: “This is an original tramp’s night gown from the 1930s, on arrival at the Workhouse tramps clothes would be taken from them and fumigated in a cabinet with a sulphur candle to kill any bugs.

The Ripon Workhouse Museum, which provided food and shelter to the destitute, is housed in the Gatehouse building, the area that was originally used to receive vagrants. Tramps were allowed to stay for two days and were also given a bath on arrival, with the unlucky ones arriving last as the same bathwater was used to wash up 14 tramps.

Following a night in the inhospitable cells, most probably lying on a thin mattress laid directly upon the floor, the tramps would be put to work. This tramps nightgown was originally from the Knaresborough Workhouse, whose vagrants’ wards continued in use until 1950 when the site became Knaresborough Hospital. Ailsa said: ”Brian’s late mother worked at the hospital and saved the outfit for posterity when the hospital was closed down for redevelopment as housing.”

The Workhouse Museum is open every day throughout from 11am until 4pm (during school holidays 10am – 4pm).