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Historic Building Details

HB Ref No:

Extent of Listing:
Not listed

Date of Construction:
1840 - 1859

Address :
Derg Valley Hospital, 37 Lurganboy Road, Castlederg, Strabane, Co Tyrone, BT81 7BJ


Survey 2:
Record Only

Date of Listing:

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:
Hospital Building

Former Use
Hospital Building

Conservation Area:

Industrial Archaeology:





OS Map No:

IG Ref:
H2662 8500

Owner Category

Health Board

Exterior Description And Setting

Detached multi-bay two-storey stone former hospital, built c.1847. H-shaped on plan, facing south with two-storey flat-roofed extension to front elevation and series of single and two-storey rendered extensions attached to east and west elevations of rear spine wing. Single-storey former morgue set perpendicular to rear spine wing. Pitched natural slate roofs, black clay ridge tiles, timber bargeboards and cast-iron rainwater goods. Stone chimneystacks removed from front block. Large rendered chimneys to rear spine wing with shallow panels and capstones. Cast-iron rainwater goods on iron drive-through brackets throughout. Coursed and squared limestone walling to front block with tooled stone plinth course. Random rubble limestone walling to remainder. Square-headed window openings with voussoired stone lintels, tooled stone surrounds, stone sills and uPVC windows having security steel panels. Symmetrical front elevation with central multi-bay two-storey rendered flat-roofed extension (c.1950). Gable-ended side elevation to front block with projecting chimney (chimneystack removed) and iron fire escape. Two-storey rendered flat-roofed extension to northwest corner returning to rear elevation. Rear spine wing set perpendicular to front main block with roof and windows as per front block and rubble stone walling. Abutting rear gable of rear spine wing is a single-storey former morgue, laid perpendicular to gable of rear spine wing. Concrete chimneystack attached to rear gable of rear spine wing. East gabled elevation, as per west elevation, also with fire escape and two-storey extension. Building is set on an elevated site with landscaped grounds and some single-storey later structures to the west. A bitmac avenue to the west is enclosed by a low rubble stone wall to Lurganboy Road. Roof Pitched natural slate Walls Random rubble stone Windows UPVC Rainwater goods Cast-iron


Wilkinson, George

Historical Information

The ‘Castlederg Union Work House’ and its associated ‘Fever Hospital’ to the rear first appear on the second edition OS map of 1833. On the third edition (1905) the buildings are captioned ‘Union Workhouse’ and ‘Hospital (Infectious Diseases)’ respectively. By the fourth edition of 1939, the workhouse has gone, to be replaced by ‘Edwards PE School’ and the fever hospital is now captioned ‘Union Hospital’, but retains the former plan. The ‘Union Workhouse, offices and land’ is listed in Griffith’s Valuation (1856-64) but although some land attached to the workhouse is also listed there is no mention of the fever hospital, either in Griffith’s or subsequent revisions. The workhouse is valued at £100, however, subsequent revisions value it at only £60. The lessor is Sir Robert Ferguson Bt, but becomes John G Smyly in 1862. In 1838 the Poor Law (Ireland) Act was passed, subsequent to similar legislation in England and Wales, under the provisions of which Ireland was to be divided into a number of Poor Law Unions based on market towns, each of which was to have a workhouse for the destitute. Unlike England and Wales no ‘outdoor’ relief was to be given, to obtain assistance the poor had to enter the workhouse. The system was funded by a rate on the residents of the union, both homeowners and rentpayers, based on the valuation of their home, and administered by elected Boards of Poor Law Guardians. (Dallat, p.23, Gould, p.3) Mr George Wilkinson, who had previously built a small number of workhouses in England, was appointed as the architect to the Poor Law Commissioners in 1839 and remained in the post until 1855. The workhouse building designed by Wilkinson consisted of three main parts. A separate front building and a main building joined to an infirmary building at the rear with a spine at right angles, completing an H plan. Castlederg appears to have deviated from this basic plan somewhat, for example, the front building was split into two smaller units to give an open view of the main building. The main building at Castlederg would have been of two storeys, rather than three or four – Wilkinson’s designs were of three sizes, small, medium and large. (Gould, p.6-8) One hundred and sixty three workhouses were built in Ireland between 1840 and 1853, all variations on designs by Wilkinson. Castlederg was completed on 20th February 1841 and was one of nine in Tyrone and one of the first to be built in Ireland after Dublin, Cork and Londonderry. It cost £2,100 to build and £484 for fittings, the lowest cost of any workhouse in Ireland and it and Gortin were the smallest, accommodating 200 inmates each. The contractor was John Maguire of Omagh (O’Connor, p.259-64, Johnston, p.107). The cost of each Irish workhouse was only two thirds of the cost of similar workhouses in England and Wales. This was achieved by making the floors of mortar or earth and making sleeping platforms instead of using beds. The rough stone walls were whitewashed rather than plastered and there were no ceilings to the dormitories. However Wilkinson wished to make the appearance of his buildings as pleasing and unobtrusive as possible and he stated in his architectural report, “The style in which the buildings are designed admits of execution best suited to the nature of the materials with which the country generally abounds. The carboniferous or mountain limestone has an irregular fracture suited for the mode of execution generally known as rubble masonry, with which the walls are proposed to be constructed; and which, in point of strength and durability, is equally suited for the building with dressed stone or ashlar work, and would have a more characteristic appearance. The necessarily conspicuous situation, which many of the buildings must occupy, suggests the above style as the least obtrusive; while its gabled roofs and elevated chimney shafts give it a pleasing and picturesque appearance. The windows are constructed with mullions and transome heads and diamond lights.” Dixon has commented that Wilkinson was choosing a style associated with Tudor and Jaocbean alms-houses in England. (Dallat, p.23-4) In 1845, as famine and concomitant disease began to grip the country, the Poor Law Commissioners began to order the building of fever hospitals in workhouse grounds, in areas were none existed locally. Castlederg and Clogher were the first in the north west to provide fever hospitals, and by the time construction began, the famine was at its height. In August 1847 the Castlederg site was presented by Sir Robert Ferguson and by November 1848 it had been finished. The contractor was William Mullan. (Donnelly, p.104, Johnston, p.105, O’Connor, p.144) According to Gould, “The fever wards (usually called fever hospitals) show more variability than the basic workhouses. Three standard designs were prepared by Wilkinson but only a few were built to conform exactly to any of these” Castlederg appears to have been constructed to an H plan, two standard wards built back to back, a design ‘possibly used when space was restricted’ It was built to accommodate 36 people. (Gould, p.10,15; O’Connor, p.241) Castlederg workhouse closed in 1929 and lay empty for a few years before it was demolished to make way for the Edwards school, which was built in 1938. The fever hospital building was modernised in that year to form the core of what became the Derg Valley Hospital. (Neill, p.23, Johnston, p.110) The workhouse system was ended in Northern Ireland in 1948 but most of the smaller workhouses had already been converted to District Hospitals by that time, encouraged by government legislation. Dallat states that “Most of our hospitals throughout the province are converted workhouses” and, indeed, many workhouse and fever hospital buildings are still in use today as part of hospital complexes. (Dallat, p.25, Gould, p.17-28) References: Primary Sources 1. PRONI OS/6/6/16/1 – First Edition Ordnance Survey Map (1833) 2. PRONI OS/6/6/16/2 – Second Edition Ordnance Survey Map (1855) 3. PRONI OS/6/6/16/3 – Third Edition Ordnance Survey Map (1905) 4. PRONI OS/6/6/16/4 – Fourth Edition Ordnance Survey Map (1939) 5. PRONI Printed Griffith’s Fieldbook – Union of Castlederg (1856-64) 6. PRONI VAL/12/B/35/6A-F – Annual Revision Records (1860-1929) Secondary Sources 1. Dallat, C “Caring by Design – The Architectural Heritage of Health and Social Services in Northern Ireland” Department of Health and Social Services Northern Ireland, 1985 2. Donnelly, P “A History of the Parish of Ardstraw and Castlederg” Strabane: Mourne Art Printing Co, 1978 3. Gould, M H “The Workhouses of Ulster” Belfast: Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 1983 4. Johnston, J ed “Workhouses of the North West” WEA People’s History Publication, 1996 5. Neill, R S K “A Short History of 1st Castlederg Presbyterian Church” Omagh: The Tyrone Constitution Ltd, 1993 6. O’Connor, J “The Workhouses of Ireland – The Fate of Ireland’s Poor” Dublin: Anvil Books, 1995

Criteria for Listing

Architectural Interest

Not listed

Historic Interest

Not listed


A substantial mid-nineteenth century former fever hospital associated with a now demolished workhouse. Unfortunately it's Victorian interior has been removed during the twentieth century and there have been unsympathetic extensions during the same period. The original masonry work and H-plan remain decipherable and this former hospital remains an historically significant reminder of the hardships of the nineteenth century.

General Comments

Listing Query HB10/LQ051

Date of Survey

11 June 2009