Oldham Poor Law Union comprised the parishes of Alkrington, Chadderton, Crompton, Middleton, Oldham itself, Royton, Thornham and Tonge. In theory, those admitted by the Board of Guardians to the Union Workhouse would have come from one of these parishes, and been resident in them at the point of admission. However, they could of course have been born anywhere outside.
As with many Poor Law Institutions covering populous urban areas, the Oldham Union Workhouse had specialist facilities for dealing with different types of inmate, such as the physically sick and those with mental health problems.
The original workhouse registers are two-page spreads with admissions on the left-hand page and discharges on the right-hand. Note that discharges could take various forms – either simple discharge back into the community, or transfer to another institution depending upon their condition, or, in the worst cases, death. As many inmates were admitted and then discharged, you will in many cases find two entries separated by a period of time. Indeed, as some unfortunate individuals went in and out of the workhouse on several occasions, you may find many entries relating to them, each with comments, perhaps, on their poverty, health or other reason for admission.
Note that only admissions on the left-hand sides of the two-page spreads show the “parish admitted from”. Therefore, if this field is blank in your free search results, usually you can safely assume it will be a discharge record rather than an admission.
The exact information contained within a record varies over time. The more detailed creed registers usually give occupation and religious denomination.
Some of the original volumes are a little faded and, if you find yourself viewing a page from such a volume, you may wish to click on the More button towards the top-right of the image viewer, and then make the brightness setting a little darker and the contrast setting a little less.