Green’s Dictionary of Slang

spike n.2

[the lack of comfort]

1. a lodging house, orig. a local authority workhouse or lodging house.

[UK]Temple Bar XVI 184: Let the spikes be what they may they were a great deal better than the padding-kens [F&H].
[UK]W. Newton Secrets of Tramp Life Revealed 4: The ‘spike’ is too much like a gaol now-a-days.
[UK]Bird o’ Freedom 22 Jan. 7: I was not going to bespatter the old coat of arms with workhouse skilly. Strong in this virtuous determination, and convinced that the spike is an impracticable asylum for anyone who wants to be comfortable.
[US]J. Flynt Tramping with Tramps 260: The next two nights [...] were spent in the Notting Hill casual ward, or ‘spike,’ as it is called in tramp parlance.
[UK]Marvel 21 Apr. 352: Yer did Crocky down before he went into the spike [...] ‘spike’ meaning the poorhouse.
Derbys. Advertiser 2 Dec. 25/4: ‘The “Spike” in Derby,’ said an old tramp [...] ‘ain’t no bloomin’ good. It’ s a ’ard un, an’ ef you were’ me, matey, yer’d keep out on it’.
[US] in ‘Jargon of the Und.’ in DN V.
[UK]‘George Orwell’ Down and Out in Complete Works I (1986) 140: D’you come out o’ one o’ de London spikes [casual wards], eh?
[UK]V. Davis Phenomena in Crime 217: Want and misery [...] follow him into the gutter, the ‘spike’ or the ‘old age parties’.
[UK]Derby Dly Teleg. 5 Dec. 4/3: It was the only ‘spike’ he had ever been in where he had not got a cup of tea.
[UK]‘Charles Raven’ Und. Nights 198: The other had spike (casual ward) written all over him, a real roadster.
[UK]D. Powis Signs of Crime 202: Spike, the Originally the workhouse, now used to describe any common lodging house whether managed by the local authority or by a charity.
[Ire]E. Mac Thomáis Janey Mack, Me Shirt is Black 150: I’d rather die in the gutter than end my days in the Spike.

2. (Irish) a maternity hospital.

[Ire]B. MacMahon Honey Spike n.p.: There’s spikes is poxed with bad luck, an’ the children out of ’em are born in bits. An’ there’s honey spikes, full of good fortune [BS].

3. a parking meter.

[UK]J.J. Connolly Viva La Madness 164: Morty [...] finds a spike, borrows all my change, pays for two hours.