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The first Islington parish workhouse may have been a house at Stroud Green hired by the vestry in 1726. In around 1731, a workhouse was set up on Holloway Road, near Ring Cross which was shared with Hornsey. A variety of other rented premises were used including one in 1758 on Lower Street near the chapel which may have been the old soap house or Ward's Place. The inmates performed spinning, oakum picking, and other tasks. The master and matron received £20 a year and board. In 1767, two rooms were added at the east side of the yard with another two rooms above them in 1772.
A parliamentary report of 1776-7 recorded a parish workhouse in operation at St Mary's, Islington, with accommodation for up to 60 inmates.
In 1776, the passing of a Local Act led in the following year to the erection a new workhouse for 120 inmates on the Hundred Acre in the Back Road, on land given to the parish by Mrs Amy Hill.