It was a large square stone building, stands on an acre of ground, which was purchased many years earlier with a bequest of £20 and money from the parish.
Caldewgate parish followed with a workhouse on Coal-fell Hill, Belle Vue, built in 1829-30 at a cost of £750. The parish of Dalston erected a workhouse in 1827 about a mile to the south of Dalston village.
Since this institution was finished, it has produced a very considerable saving to the parish, principally by discouraging applications to the parish, for although it is certain that in the Workhouse the Poor are far better provided with the important necessaries of food, clothing, habitation and fuel than they could be by their most industrious exertions at home, this mode of receiving parochial relief is universally disliked; many distressed families prefer the chance of starving among friends and neighbours in their own native village to the mortifying alternative of being well fed, well lodged, and well clothed in a Poorhouse, the motley receptacle of idiots and vagrants.
In response to this dilemma, the Poor Law Commission allowed the Carlisle Guardians to operate an "outdoor labour test".
This allowed the giving of relief to the able-bodied so long as they were prepared to undertake hard manual labour such as stone-breaking in a specially set up labour yard.
Few were prepared to take this option and tried to scrape by as best they could.
The plight of the weavers led to the setting up of charitable "relief committees" funded by local citizens.
The parishes of Warwick and Wetheral (sometimes spelled Wetherall) operated a joint workhouse on Holme Lane, to the west of Aglionby. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 25 in number, representing its 19 constituent parishes and townships as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians where not one): Cumberland: Beaumont, Burgh-by-Sands, Carlisle—St Mary's Rickersgate (2), Carlisle—St Mary's Caldewgate (2), Carlisle—St Mary's Cummersdale, Crosby-on-Eden, Dalston (2), Grinsdale, Kirkandrew's-on-Eden, Kingmoor, Orton, Rockcliffe, Stanwix, St Cuthbert's-within-Carlisle (2), St Cuthbert's-without-Carlisle (2), Warwick and Aglionby, Weatherall (2), Wreay.
Later Additions: Belle Vue (from 1894), Botchergate (1894-1904), Eaglesfield Abbey (1862-1904).
The weavers themselves were far from being totally destitute.
What they wanted was short term relief which would allow them to continue with what little employment there was until times gradually improved.
In 18, slumps in the local textile trade could lead to 450 handloom weavers suddenly in need of relief.