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Designed by Richard Peddar, it was described as "a neat, airy, and pleasant building, large enough to contain 80 persons." In 1776, Peddar drew up plans for an additional wing. The paupers were "farmed" by a contractor who was paid by the township. The union erected a workhouse in 1811 at a cost of £2,150.A parliamentary report of 1777 recorded local workhouses in operation in Old Hutton (for up to 10 inmates), Kirkby Lonsdale (15), and Lambrigg (6), although no mention was made of the Kendal workhouse. Kirkby Lonsdale former Gilbert Union workhouse, 2004. Milnthorpe (or Milnthorp) with its close neighbour Heversham also formed a Gilbert Union in conjunction with fifteen other townships (in Westmorland: Beetham, Burton, Crook, Natland, Hincaster, Levens, Sedgewick, Stainton, Scalthwaite-Rigg with Hay, Underbarrow with Bradley-Field, and Witherslack with Ulpha; in Lancashire: Dalton and Yealand-Redmayne). Kendal Poor Law Union formally came into being on 15th July 1836.Additional small blocks to the north of the east wing probably included a vagrants' ward. In 1970, following the closure of the hospital, some demolition took place.The surviving buildings have now been converted to housing known as Strickland Court.As noted above, the former Gilbert Union workhouse at Milnthorpe was retained by the Kendal Union for accommodating the aged and infirm, infants, able-bodied women, and unmarried mothers. The site included a block at the south with a semi-hub at its centre — a relatively unusual feature in workhouses of this period but found at a few other places such as Caistor. In 1918, the site became Milnthorpe Hospital for the Mentally Subnormal, later Milnthorpe Hospital.The workhouse was situated at the east of Kirkgate Lane. Kendal Milnthorpe workhouse main block from the south-east, 2001. A central wing from its rear, now demolished, may have contained the workhouse dining hall and kitchens. A single storey lodge at the west of the workhouse is dated 1869. The hospital closed in 1960 and the surviving buildings have now been converted for use as housing known as Chelsea Court.
The Visiters and Guardians meet on the first Wednesday of every month, and the paupers are fed at the weekly cost of 2s. Milnthorpe could house up to 300 and was used for the aged and infirm, infants, able-bodied women, and unmarried mothers.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 Act provided for: "...enclosing a piece of waste ground in the Borough and township of Kirkby in Kendal for the benefit of the poor, and cleansing the streets of the town, and for confirming a rule or order of assize and order of the high court of Chancery, relative to the rates and assessments to be raised for the relief of the poor, by the inhabitants of the said township, and the owners of lands, called Park and Castle Lands." Under this Act, the mayor of Kendal and twelve other inhabitants were empowered to make orders for maintaining and employing the poor, along with a range of other matters such as setting out roads, cleansing and lighting the streets, levying fines for nuisances, enforcing the payment of rates and penalties etc. A committee room was added in 1823, and fever wards in 1829.In 1769, Kendal erected a workhouse on Stricklandgate — at the bottom end of House of Correction Hill — now Windermere Road. As was normal practice, Kendal workhouse tried to find places for older children as apprentices as demonstrated by a handbill, probably dating from the 1820s. In the township of Kirkland, at the south side of Kendal, a workhouse was established in 1809 at the head of what became Poor-House Lane, now Anchorite Place. Kirkby Lonsdale formed a Gilbert Union with sixteen other townships (in Westmorland: Barbon, Casterton, Firbank, Hutton Roof, Killington, Middleton, and Old Hutton; in Lancashire: Arkholm with Cawood, Burrow with Burrow, Cantsfield, Leck, Melling with Wrayton, Tunstall, and Whittington; in Yorkshire: Burton in Lonsdale, and Thornton in Lonsdale).