A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 4, the City of Gloucester. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1988.
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In the 18th and 19th centuries several hospitals were opened in and around Gloucester on private initiatives. (fn. 1) The most important, the Gloucester Infirmary, dated from 1755. In the early 19th century the county and city joined in the building of a lunatic asylum at Wotton and later the county built a second asylum in Barnwood. The city, which provided infectious diseases hospitals and in 1930 took over the infirmary of the Gloucester poor-law union, later built a maternity hospital. Before that a voluntary body had been the main provider of midwifery services in Gloucester. Anglican orders of nuns ran a children's hospital from 1867.
In 1948 the Gloucester, Stroud, and the Forest hospital management committee took control of the county and city general infirmaries, the maternity hospital, and an infectious diseases hospital at Over. The Horton Road and Coney Hill hospital management committee controlled the two mental hospitals from 1948 until 1965 when it amalgamated with the Gloucester, Stroud, and the Forest management committee. (fn. 2) A private hospital in Barnwood became an independent registered mental hospital and the work of two dispensaries was continued under the National Health Service in health centres provided by the city corporation, acting as local health authority. In the early 1960s a new general hospital was begun in Great Western Road and from the mid 1960s the city provided new buildings at Rikenel house in Montpellier as the centre for its health and welfare services. (fn. 3) At reorganization in 1974 the Gloucestershire area health authority took over the functions of both the hospital management committee and the local health authority, and in 1982 most of those functions devolved upon the Gloucester district health authority. A private hospital opened in the city in 1981. (fn. 4)
In the mid 1720s a hospital in Gloucester belonged to Mr. Singleton, (fn. 5) possibly Luke Singleton who later designed the Gloucester Infirmary. (fn. 6) Bishop Martin Benson collected subscriptions for an infirmary in the city and in 1752 left £200 for such a project. In 1754 a scheme for a dispensary in Stroud was extended to provide a county hospital at Gloucester. A subscription opened later that year (fn. 7) received wide support. The principal benefactors included Norborne Berkeley of Stoke Gifford, M.P. for the county, and the Revd. George Talbot of Temple Guiting. Benson's bequest was paid into the fund. (fn. 8)
In 1755 it was decided to build the Gloucester Infirmary outside the south gate and a temporary infirmary was opened at the Crown and Sceptre inn in lower Westgate Street. It was supported by voluntary contributions and the governors met every Thursday to manage it and admit patients. It was intended for patients from any country unable to pay for their keep and medicine. Admission was by subscriber's ticket and a donation of £20 conferred the same privileges as a subscription of £2 2s. Physicians and surgeons from the city gave their services free of charge and the resident staff included an apothecary, who had general care of the patients, a matron, and a secretary. Samuel Colborne, the first apothecary, came from London. In setting up the infirmary the governors took the Northampton Infirmary as their model and sent the matron and secretary to the Bristol Infirmary for instruction. (fn. 9)
In 1756 the governors acquired a lease of the site for the county infirmary (fn. 10) and George II gave timber from the Forest of Dean for building it. (fn. 11) Patients were admitted from 1761 (fn. 12) and the temporary infirmary was closed. The infirmary in lower Southgate Street was built in brick to plans by Luke Singleton, approved after consultation with the Bath architect John Wood. (fn. 13) It had two storeys on a high basement and north and south wings contained the four principal wards, each with 18 beds. An extensive kitchen garden with orchard was laid out behind it. (fn. 14) In 1780 land behind the Independent chapel on the other side of the street was given to the infirmary for a burial ground, consecrated in 1781. (fn. 15) In 1788 George III, during his stay in Cheltenham, visited the infirmary. (fn. 16)
The infirmary's ordinary income was supplied by subscriptions. Extraordinary income came from many gifts and legacies, including a bequest of £10,000 stock from Martha Davies (d. 1871), collections, and amercements assigned by courts. Many parishes subscribed to provide treatment in the infirmary for their poor. Chedworth in 1760 was the first, and by 1788 forty, including two outside the county, were subscribing. Several endowed charities and benefactions ensured treatment for the poor of certain places in the county. (fn. 17)
From its beginning the infirmary was faced with abuse of its charity (fn. 18) and problems of overcrowding, rising costs, and insufficient ordinary income. In 1784 the governors appointed a committee to look into the state of the infirmary and its finances and in 1785 a trust fund was set up to augment ordinary income. (fn. 19) Part of the principal was later used to meet continuing deficits. In 1796 another committee investigated the finances and Sir George Paul, in a detailed analysis, observed that the root of the problems of overcrowding and finance was the increasing number of subscribers following the drop in real value of subscriptions. (fn. 20) From that time the recommending privileges of subscribers were limited (fn. 21) but financial problems continued and in the early 1840s invested funds were sold. (fn. 22)
In 1846 the governors elected a supervising committee and limited membership of the weekly board. (fn. 23) In 1866 a committee of investigation recommended considerable changes to increase the usefulness of the infirmary, which then had 118 beds, and improve its management, staffing, and facilities. (fn. 24) In 1867 the management was entrusted to a committee of governors which chose the weekly board from its members. At the same time the system of recommendation by ticket was relaxed to allow free admission for emergency cases. Subscribers' recommending rights were increased, particularly in the out-patient department which had been underused. (fn. 25) In the later 19th century the number of patients recommended by subscribers dwindled and the infirmary became more like a free hospital. (fn. 26) In 1878 the Gloucestershire Eye Institution amalgamated with the infirmary, (fn. 27) and Edward VII granted the title of the Gloucestershire Royal Infirmary and Eye Institution in 1909. (fn. 28) From 1922 all in-patients paid for their keep according to means unless they were members of a contributory scheme. (fn. 29)
The first major enlargement of the infirmary was a south wing to designs by Thomas Rickman and Henry Hutchinson begun in 1825. It contained 54 beds in three wards. (fn. 30) On the north side a wing, built following a diversion of Parliament Street, opened in 1871. It was designed by A. W. Maberly and contained an out-patient department and two surgical wards. In 1885 it was enlarged and another ward created in it. (fn. 31) A nurses' home completed in 1904 (fn. 32) was enlarged several times in the 1920s and 1930s. Following the opening in 1932 of a detached block with specialist departments and clinics and 16 beds for paying patients the infirmary had 216 beds and 3 operating theatres. (fn. 33)
On the introduction of the National Health Service in 1948 the infirmary was amalgamated with Gloucester City General Hospital and from 1949 was known as the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. (fn. 34) In the early 1960s a new general hospital for the Gloucester district was begun in Great Western Road, and departments and clinics were moved from lower Southgate Street as buildings on the new site were completed. (fn. 35) The wards in Southgate Street were closed in 1975 (fn. 36) and only a few services remained there in the early 1980s. In 1984 the main part of the old infirmary was demolished and the nurses' home was disused.
Gloucester City General Hospital was formerly the infirmary of the Gloucester poor-law union. The infirmary behind the union workhouse was demolished in 1850 to make way for the South Wales railway (fn. 37) and replaced by a detached building west of the workhouse, designed by the firm of John Jacques & Son and completed in 1852. (fn. 38) In 1912 the guardians began a 149-bed infirmary on a block system on the other side of Great Western Road. (fn. 39) Patients were transferred to the east block of the new building in 1914. The British Red Cross Society took over the west block for nursing war wounded in 1914 and the east block in 1915. The guardians completed the building after the war. (fn. 40) In 1930 the infirmary was transferred to the corporation and became known as Gloucester City General Hospital. (fn. 41) On the introduction of the National Health Service it was amalgamated with the Gloucestershire Royal Infirmary. (fn. 42) Later the Great Western Road buildings and the adjoining land, which included a maternity hospital and wooden huts erected in 1942 for treatment of war wounded, were chosen for the new Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, begun in the early 1960s. The first departments were opened in 1964 and others in succeeding years, including in 1975 the main feature of the new hospital, a tower block of 11 storeys. (fn. 43) Older buildings in the area, including the former Home of Hope, (fn. 44) continued in use in 1981 when the hospital had 618 beds, excluding those in the maternity hospital. (fn. 45)
In 1793 the surgeon Charles Brandon Trye and the Revd. Thomas Stock founded a lying-in charity for poor women. From 1800 it was supported by subscriptions and from 1813 it was supervised by the Revd. F. T. Bayley. (fn. 46) The charity provided the services of two surgeons at St. John's National school in Worcester Street in 1856 and at Christ Church National school at the Spa in 1870, and helped c. 100 patients a year in the mid 1880s. (fn. 47) From 1894 the charity made payments to the Gloucester District Nursing Society for its midwifery work. The society, a voluntary body founded in 1884 to provide trained nurses for the sick poor in their own homes, became an important provider of maternity and other services in and around the city and trained nurses and midwives. Its principal benefactor William Long (d. 1914) left it £10,000. In 1917 the society opened a ward with four beds for maternity cases in its premises at the corner of Clarence and Russell Streets, and in the following years extended its services, particularly after 1934 when it introduced a provident contributory scheme. (fn. 48) In 1927 Mary Fluck founded a convalescent home in Longford for women and children of the city and neighbourhood. (fn. 49)
From 1931 the Gloucester District Nursing Society attended maternity cases at the City General Hospital in Great Western Road. Also in conjunction with the city corporation the society ran an antenatal clinic begun in 1928, (fn. 50) provided a domiciliary midwifery service under the Midwives Act of 1936, (fn. 51) and ran a maternity hospital from 1940. That year the corporation requisitioned and fitted the Fluck convalescent home as a temporary maternity hospital while it built Gloucester Maternity Hospital, a single-storeyed building which opened behind the City General Hospital in 1943. (fn. 52) The society continued to run the hospital and to provide services for the corporation under the National Health Service. (fn. 53) The corporation opened an antenatal and infant welfare clinic in Great Western Road in 1962. (fn. 54) In 1966 as part of the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital a new maternity hospital and midwives' home was opened behind the older hospital, which became a general practitioner maternity unit. (fn. 55) In 1981 the maternity hospital had 111 beds. (fn. 56) From 1963 the work of the Gloucester District Nursing Society for the corporation was reduced and in 1971 the society's agency agreement for running the maternity hospital was ended. (fn. 57) Under a Scheme of 1974 the society provided help for the sick poor of the city and adjoining parishes. (fn. 58) The Fluck convalescent home was used by the corporation as a children's home in the mid 1940s. (fn. 59) Under a Scheme of 1956 the endowments supported a fund, which helped poor convalescent women and children (fn. 60) and in 1971 had an income of £3,600. (fn. 61)
Over 80 cases of eye disease were treated at the Gloucester Infirmary each year by 1866 when W. H. Hyett of Painswick took the lead in opening the Gloucestershire Eye Institution in Gloucester. (fn. 62) The eye hospital, which was for the poor of the Gloucester and Stroud areas and was supported by subscriptions and donations, was in a house in Clarence Street. At first out-patients were treated there two days a week and later four beds were provided for in-patients. Admission was by recommendation, and treatment was free for the poor and for mechanics contributing to provident schemes and their dependants. The hospital, which in its first year dealt with 425 cases, moved in 1867 to two houses in Market Parade. (fn. 63) It closed on its amalgamation with the Gloucester Infirmary in 1878. (fn. 64)
In 1866 a free hospital for children of the poor was begun next to St. Lucy's Home of Charity between Kingsholm and Longford. The home, a converted villa east of the Tewkesbury road, was occupied by the sisters of St. Lucy, an Anglican community founded in 1864 by Thomas Gambier Parry of Highnam to train nurses and tend the sick in their homes. By 1866 the sisters, who were sent to many parts of the country, nursed some patients in the home. (fn. 65) Gambier Parry also conceived the idea for the children's hospital in connexion with the home and paid much of the building costs. The hospital, a brick building designed by William Jacques, opened in 1867 with 22 beds. Children of the poor from any distance were admitted and out-patients were treated at a house in Bell Lane. The hospital was supported by subscriptions and donations. (fn. 66)
In 1872 the sisters of St. John the Baptist from Clewer (Berks.) took over the work of the sisters of St. Lucy. (fn. 67) In 1876 Gambier Parry moved the home to a large house at the corner of Hare Lane and Pitt Street. (fn. 68) The new home included a ward for fee-paying incurables from 1885 (fn. 69) and adjoined the hospitals out-patient department, which occupied that building, known as College Gardens, from 1873 (fn. 70) to 1905, when a new dispensary opened in the hospital's grounds. (fn. 71) In 1921 the sisters gave up their work at the hospital and the management committee made new arrangements, introducing payments for patients' keep according to means. Further changes in management came in 1928 when the Clewer sisters resumed their work, and from 1929 children sent by the Gloucestershire Royal Infirmary were admitted. The Clewer sisters were succeeded at the hospital in 1939 by the nursing sisters of St. John the Divine from Deptford (Kent). In 1941 accommodation was increased (fn. 72) but in 1947 the hospital was closed and sold to the city corporation. (fn. 73) The proceeds of the sale supported a fund for the relief of sick children. In 1951 the charity of George Peters, who by will proved 1909 had provided a bed in the hospital, was added to the fund, (fn. 74) which in 1971 had an income of £2,000. (fn. 75) The hospital, which was used by the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital as a nurses' home until the mid 1970s, was demolished in 1979. (fn. 76) St. Lucy's Home was closed in 1933 following the withdrawal of the Clewer sisters. (fn. 77)
The Gloucester Dispensary and Vaccine Institution established in 1831 was supported by subscriptions and donations. It provided free advice and medicine to the poor upon the recommendation of subscribers. (fn. 78) Doctors gave their services free of charge and an apothecary was employed. He lived at the dispensary, which occupied a house within the shell of the Greyfriars church. To reduce costs, in 1850 the dispensary was closed and a chemist in Eastgate Street contracted to provide rooms and supply medicines. The dispensing was at a chemist's shop in Southgate Street in 1853 and until 1857, when a medical officer was employed to carry on the institution's work, (fn. 79) and by 1870 a dispensary had been opened in Blackfriars. (fn. 80) In 1872 the Gloucester Dispensary was reorganized as a provident society supported by members' payments and voluntary contributions, and a house in Longsmith Street was fitted as a dispensary. (fn. 81) In 1895 it was replaced by a house in Barton Street provided by William Long (fn. 82) (d. 1914), who left £3,000 for the society. A new dispensary was opened behind the house in 1921 and enlarged in the late 1920s. On the introduction of the National Health Service the buildings were let to the corporation for a health centre, (fn. 83) which included a dispensary and closed in 1963, (fn. 84) and the endowments, including the Barton Street premises, supported a fund for the sick poor of the city. That charity, which in 1969 became known as the Gloucester Relief in Sickness Fund, (fn. 85) had an income of £2,000 in 1971. (fn. 86)
The Gloucester Friendly Societies' Medical Association was formed in 1887 to retain the services of a doctor, (fn. 87) and from the early 1890s it ran a dispensary at Ladybellegate House, then the Foresters' hall, in Longsmith Street. (fn. 88) Following the introduction of the National Health Service the corporation purchased the house for a health centre. The centre, which had a dispensary, was transferred to Rikenel house in 1971. (fn. 89)
In 1637 the city corporation built a pest house outside the east gate, (fn. 90) where land between the city wall and Goose ditch was traditionally the place for accommodating the sick in times of plague, (fn. 91) and in 1638 there was also a pest house at St. Margaret's Hospital, Wotton, for city plague victims. (fn. 92) In 1832 the board of health dealing with an outbreak of cholera in Gloucester bought a house in Barton Street and fitted it as a temporary hospital. (fn. 93) The house was later that pair of dwellings known as Gothic Cottages. (fn. 94)
In 1874, during an outbreak of smallpox, the corporation purchased a wooden hospital from the Cheltenham improvement commissioners and erected it south of the Stroud road as an infectious diseases hospital for 14 patients. (fn. 95) It was enlarged several times and in 1888 was largely of brick. (fn. 96) With the approach of cholera in 1885 the corporation, acting as port sanitary authority, erected small wooden hospitals, each with five beds, by the docks at Sharpness and Gloucester. (fn. 97) The latter was moved in 1891 to make way for the Monk Meadow dock. (fn. 98) During the smallpox epidemic of 1896 the corporation put up temporary buildings next to it and the Stroud Road hospital, (fn. 99) and in Hucclecote leading residents adapted a cottage as an isolation hospital. (fn. 100)
In 1897 the corporation began a new infectious diseases hospital outside the city at Over. The new hospital was not for smallpox and when it opened in 1903 (fn. 101) the Stroud Road hospital was closed and many of its buildings were transferred to Field Farm near Longford as a smallpox hospital. (fn. 102) During the smallpox epidemic of 1923 the corporation adapted buildings on the airfield in Brockworth for the treatment of patients. (fn. 103) The Longford hospital, which had 18 beds, (fn. 104) was enlarged in 1926, by the addition of buildings from the Monk Meadow cholera hospital, and was closed in 1947. (fn. 105) The buildings were later removed. At the Over hospital a pavilion for tuberculosis patients was provided in 1915 by a joint committee of the city and county councils. Further building had taken place by 1981 (fn. 106) when the hospital had 95 beds, some for geriatric and pre-convalescent cases. (fn. 107)
In 1793 the governors of the Gloucester Infirmary opened a subscription for building an independent lunatic asylum at Gloucester. In 1794 the subscribers bought an inn and two houses south of the infirmary as a site for it and adopted a scheme of Sir George Paul modelled principally on the York asylum. (fn. 108) The asylum was to be supported by patients' payments, the patients divided into three classes, the wealthy, the poor on parochial relief, and the poor not on relief, and the classes and sexes segregated; payments from the poor not on relief were to be reduced in proportion to the growth of a special fund derived from surplus payments by wealthy patients, benefactions, and legacies. (fn. 109) In 1811 the subscribers bought 8½ a. at Wotton for the building (fn. 110) and in 1813 sold the old site to the infirmary. (fn. 111)
In 1812 the subscribers, who lacked sufficient funds, invited the county and city magistrates to join in the project under an Act of 1808 to provide accommodation for paupers on parochial relief. Paul, who had played an important part in securing the Act, opposed county involvement on the ground that it would delay the building of the Shire Hall, but the three parties agreed to a union in 1813. The county was to pay eleven parts of the building and maintenance costs, the city one, and the subscribers eight. The county and city also made a separate agreement between themselves. (fn. 112) Building to a plan by William Stark of Edinburgh (d. 1813), modified by John Wheeler, began in 1814. Completion was delayed mainly by the financial problems of the subscribers, (fn. 113) and the asylum was opened in 1823. (fn. 114) It was built of brick and stucco and the central feature was a crescent of three storeys with a principal east elevation. North, south, and west wings of two storeys were connected to the crescent by single-storeyed day rooms. (fn. 115) The crescent contained accommodation for 24 wealthy patients and their servants and the wings for 60 paupers and 26 charity patients. (fn. 116) There were detached wards for noisy and violent patients. (fn. 117)
The asylum was governed by a committee of county and city magistrates and subscribers. It retained the main features of the subscribers' scheme, including the charity to reduce payments from poor patients not on parochial relief. (fn. 118) It was beset with problems, particularly the need of the county and city to house an increasing number of poor and the subscribers' lack of funds. Surplus payments from patients were small and were paid into the general account of the asylum until 1829 when they were divided between the three parties. Few charity patients were admitted and the county and city filled the charity wards with paupers. (fn. 119) In 1832 a fire damaged the building. (fn. 120) Samuel Hitch, resident medical superintendent 1828–45, was the principal founder of the Royal Medico-Psychological Association in 1841. He severed his connexion with the asylum in 1847 to open a private institution in Dowdeswell near Cheltenham. (fn. 121)
From 1838, when the Wotton asylum had 20 wealthy, 3 charity, and 167 pauper patients, the number of charity patients increased considerably. In 1843 the figures were 18, 47, and 191 respectively. The subscribers had all surplus payments from patients from 1842, and from 1843 each party maintained those parts of the asylum in its sole use and shared the costs of those in common use under a new agreement. The number of charity patients declined after 1846 and by 1855 the number of pauper patients had risen to 310. To meet the altered circumstances the parties divided the property in 1847 and agreed to a new union and division of costs. (fn. 122) Because of overcrowding admissions were halted several times in the early 1850s and patients sent to other asylums. Large new wings for paupers were opened in 1852 and 1855. In 1856 the union between county, city, and subscribers was dissolved and the county and city, which bought the subscribers' part of the asylum, converted the building for the exclusive use of paupers. The conversion, which included adding a third storey to the original wings, was interrupted by a serious fire in 1858. (fn. 123) From 1856 the county paid most of the costs and the asylum became known as the county asylum. (fn. 124)
In 1849 a chapel designed by the firm of Fulljames and Waller was built in front of the asylum. (fn. 125) It was replaced by a larger chapel, opened in 1873, on the site of the asylum's burial ground to the south. The new chapel, built of brick and designed by James Medland, was a single-cell building with south apse and east and west porches. (fn. 126)
Despite additions in the late 1860s and early 1870s there was a shortage of room at the asylum, (fn. 127) and in 1878 the county bought an estate in Barnwood, east of Coney Hill, for the site of a new asylum. The new institution, designed on a block system by the firm of John Giles and Gough, (fn. 128) was built between 1880 and 1884. It was governed by the county magistrates visiting the first asylum and was under the same medical superintendent. Surplus accommodation at the second asylum was used for paupers from other counties and until 1890 for private patients. In 1900 the asylums housed 1,059 patients. In the early 20th century there was further building at both, including a block opened at the second asylum in 1909. (fn. 129)
At the introduction of the National Health Service in 1948 the two county asylums became known as Horton Road Hospital and Coney Hill Hospital respectively. (fn. 130) During the 1950s more buildings were provided for both hospitals, including a house in Denmark Road opened as a day hospital in 1958, (fn. 131) and in the 1970s a unit for mentally handicapped patients was built at Coney Hill. (fn. 132) In 1981 the two hospitals had over 900 beds. (fn. 133)
When the union was dissolved in 1856 the subscribers to the Gloucester asylum were paid £13,000 and they removed the wealthy and charity patients. They supported nine of the latter in a private asylum in Fairford. In 1858 the subscribers, among whom W.H. Hyett was prominent, bought Barnwood House in Barnwood village for an asylum. (fn. 134) The house, a small early 19th-century villa of stuccoed brick with a symmetrical garden front with segmental bays rising the full three storeys and later east and west wings, was converted to a plan by the firm of Fulljames and Waller. Service buildings to the west were pulled down, the wings, from which the stucco was removed, were raised by the addition of a third storey and extended symmetrically by ranges which ended in towers, and a glass corridor was erected along the north side of the ground floor. The asylum, which opened in 1860 and was known later as Barnwood House Hospital, (fn. 135) was supported by voluntary contributions and patients' payments. The patients were from the upper and middle classes, and the less wealthy paid according to their means, some receiving free treatment. (fn. 136) A bequest of £10,000 stock to the Gloucester asylum by Martha Davies (d. 1871) was awarded by Chancery in 1872 to Barnwood House and was used to buy land in Barnwood. (fn. 137)
By 1864 the hospital, with 60 patients, was full. To increase accommodation many alterations were made and new buildings added in the later 19th and early 20th century. The central block, the original house which was used for offices and the medical superintendent's residence, was rebuilt in brick in 1896 and 1897. In 1869 a chapel designed by F. S. Waller was built in the grounds south of the Wotton brook; after a rebuilding in 1887, when a south aisle and vestry were added, the body had an apsidal and gabled east end, an east flèche, and a north porch. From 1884 a few patients were housed in a villa on the other side of the main road, and the hospital ran a sanatorium near Mitcheldean until 1919. Other houses in Barnwood were used for patients in the early 20th century and in 1938 a branch house opened in Badgeworth. (fn. 138)
After the introduction of the National Health Service in 1948 the hospital, which was left under the control of the governors, had financial problems and from the mid 1950s the number of patients fell. In 1968 the hospital was closed and its work continued on a much smaller scale at the Manor House to the east, which became a nursing home for geriatric and psychiatric cases and in 1977 a day home for the elderly disabled, for whom 18 bungalows were built in its grounds in 1981. In 1969 the hospital was sold and demolished, save for the central block which was converted for domestic use, and the grounds south of the brook were given to the corporation as a public park. (fn. 139)