The Pump House, housing one of Redbourn's many Victorian pumps
Woollams Almshouses were originally intended for elderly people, some of whom had worked in Redbourn's Silk Mill.
The mill operated for 80 years and employed 122 workers in 1891, half of whom were between 8 and 16 years of age.
The majority of adult workers were women, some of whom in later life would likely suffer financial hardship.
In Redbourn, Charles Woollam owned five fields, part meadow and part allotments, each called "The Brache". After his death, Mary Woollam left a bequest of land from part of The Brache, on which a group of 4 almshouses were built, dedicated to her late husband Charles. This is a fitting memorial to the family who provided work for so many Redbourn people and brought the Industrial Revolution to the village.
Charles Woollam succeeded his father John, who had established a silk mill on Redbourn Common, on land once belonging to Redbourn Priory. The plot was purchased to erect a steam engine and mill for the manufacture of silk and was bought for £135. The factory comprised two long, low, continuous buildings with many large windows to illuminate the process of throwing silk. In front of this was the engine house with tall chimney, steam power being used to drive the hundreds of spindles on which the silk was wound. There was also a house for the manager and his family, the only remainder of the silk mill and now the home of Redbourn Village Museum.
Skeins imported from Italy, China and Bengal were transported by horse-drawn box van from Woollam's other mill in St. Albans and the prepared silk threads were returned, ready for weaving elsewhere. The process at Redbourn's silk mill involved winding, cleaning, spinning, doubling and twisting threads, collectively known as silk throwing.
The original almshouses were built between 1923 and 1925 and six additional properties and a warden's flat were added in 1968.