Medical Establishments: Infirmary for diseases of the eye

Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead. Originally published by Mackenzie and Dent, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827.

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Eneas Mackenzie, 'Medical Establishments: Infirmary for diseases of the eye', Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827), pp. 522-524. British History Online [accessed 25 June 2024].

Eneas Mackenzie. "Medical Establishments: Infirmary for diseases of the eye", in Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827) 522-524. British History Online, accessed June 25, 2024,

Mackenzie, Eneas. "Medical Establishments: Infirmary for diseases of the eye", Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827). 522-524. British History Online. Web. 25 June 2024,


Messrs. T. M. Greenhow and John Fife, surgeons, being deeply impressed with a conviction of the usefulness of an Infirmary for Diseases of the Eye, resolved to take upon themselves the charge and risk of opening such an institution, merely accepting such contributions in aid of it as any friends of the undertaking might be disposed to offer. The establishment commenced on March 23, 1822. After three months' experience, its utility having been established, a report was published, and the propriety was suggested of holding a public meeting of those who might be disposed to contribute to its support, for the purpose of appointing proper officers, and adopting suitable regulations for its management. The number of poor persons admitted and cured, even during that short period, demonstrated that the institution was worthy the countenance and support of the wealthy, the liberal, and the philanthropic; and, shortly after, it was regularly organized. In 1824, the house in Brunswick Place, occupied for the purposes of the institution, being found inadequate in accommodation, a more commodious one was engaged in Prudhoe Street. During the same year, a legacy of £100, bequeathed by Richard Jones, Esq. was deposited in the Savings Bank, as the foundation of a permanent sum for the benefit of the institution.

All poor persons affected with diseases of the eye, applying at the institution, which is open every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, are admitted as patients, without recommendation. The entire number of patients who have applied for relief at this Infirmary since it opened in 1822, has amounted to 3374, of whom 2987 have been cured, or have received material relief. The number of admissions during the last year, ending March 22, 1826, amounted to 797, (fn. 1) which is less than during the preceding years; but this may be greatly attributed to the beneficial operation of the institution itself, in affording immediate assistance to those affected with acute diseases of the eye, whereby they are prevented from passing into those chronic and less remediable forms of disease, which had hitherto presented themselves in greater numbers at this Infirmary. During the last Infirmary year, 18 patients have been operated upon for cataracts, with complete success; and in 17 other cases, wherein at St. Nicholas' church, for the benefit of this charity, by Dr. Scott of Simonburn, which produced £31, 19s. 10¾d. Shortly after the commencement of this charity, about 900 women were annually recommended. the probability of success was slight, from the complicated nature of the disease, benefit has still been derived from the operations. It is to be regretted that the income of this excellent institution still remains inadequate to the expenditure, although the greatest economy is observed. The following is the last year's account of the treasurer, ending March 22, 1826:—

L. s. d. L. s. d.
Balance from last year 18 19 1 Household expenses 50 0 0
Annual subscriptions received 130 9 0 Matron's salary 21 0 0
Donations 30 14 6 Rent 30 0 0
Balance due the treasurer 33 15 6 Grant for collecting subscriptions 2 2 0
Medicines, instruments, printing, and advertising 110 16 1
L213 18 1 L213 18 1

The officers of this establishment for the current year are,—

President, The Mayor of Newcastle for the time being. Vice-presidents, Sir J. E. Swinburne, Bart.; Sir M. W. Ridley, Bart. M. P.; Cuthbert Ellison, Esq. M. P.; T. W. Beaumont, Esq. M. P.; Matthew Bell, Esq. M. P. Treasurer, William Chapman, Esq. Secretary, T. W. Keenlyside, Esq. Committee, James Losh, Esq.; Rev. William Turner; Henry Bell, Esq.; Robert Leadbitter, Esq.; A. Easterby, Esq.; C. N. Wawn, Esq.; Mr. George Brumell; Mr. John Leadbitter. Consulting Physician, Dr. Headlam. Surgeons, Mr. T. M. Greenhow; Mr. John Fife. Matron, Mrs. Scott.

It is in contemplation to establish an accumulating fund, for the purpose of erecting a suitable building for the purposes of this institution.


  • 1. The Northumberland and Newcastle Mag. vol. ii. p. 314.