Newtownlimavady Workhouse opened on 15th March 1842 and admitted its first inmate on the same day.
Workhouses were built all over Ireland in response to the Irish Poor Law Act of 1838. The workhouse system aimed to force the lazy and idle into work, even when there was no work to be found. Help was only given to people who entered the workhouse, where conditions were deliberately hard so people were not encouraged to stay.
Irish workhouses were built to standard plans by architect George Wilkinson, who had designed several English workhouses. Limavady is one of the best preserved workhouses in Ireland and is a good example of a medium sized workhouse, designed to hold 600 inmates (though this rose to 950 during the height of the Famine)
Limavady Workhouse closed its doors to the poor in 1930, and the last twenty healthy inmates were transferred to the Coleraine Workhouse. Thirty patients remained in the old Infirmary until 1932 while the workhouse was converted into a District Hospital. Roe Valley District Hospital opened in 1937 and continued to serve the local community until 1997.
The building has now been restored by Limavady Community Development Initiative (LCDI). Visitors can see the original gatehouse and one of the dormitories, and can access some of the fascinating archive salvaged by LCDI.