The Hospitals Investigator 9

In December 1992 Robert Taylor circulated the ninth edition of his newsletter amongst his colleagues working on the Royal Commission’s hospitals project. In this issue he provided more useful source material on isolation hospitals from Parliamentary Papers: a ‘Sanitary Survey’ undertaken in 1893-5  and the annual report of the Local Government Board of 1914-15, which highlighted the problems encountered in municipal hospital provision during the first year of the war.

The Sanitary Survey covered England and Wales and was prompted by ‘the ever recurring source of danger’ to Britain of cholera spreading from the continent. Publication of the inland survey was delayed following a ‘serious accident’ which befell Dr Frederick W. Barry, Senior Medical Inspector of the Local Government Board, who was supervising the work. A year later he died suddenly, it was presumed from the injury he sustained. The inland survey followed one on the ‘Port and Riparian Districts of England and Wales’ submitted in September 1895. When attention was turned inland, districts where the purity of the water supply was in doubt were investigated as a priority and then districts in which the administration was believed to be defective or ‘in which former experience had shown that filth diseases prevailed’.

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The late Dr F. W. Barry, from The Graphic, 23 Oct 1897, p.17. Barry had struck his head on a stone doorway causing severe injury to his skull the previous year. He died  suddenly after he had retired to bed at the Grand Hotel, Birmingham, and was found the following morning by the chambermaid.

The actual work of inspection was conducted under Barry’s supervision by a team of doctors in the LGB Medical Department. The bulk of the sites were covered by Dr Bruce Low, Dr Fletcher, Dr Reece, Dr Wilson, and Dr Wheaton, a few were inspected by the late T. W. Thompson, Dr Sweeting, Dr Theodore Thomson, Dr Coleman, Dr Bulstrode, Dr Horne and Mr Evan Evans (surely one of the inspectors of Welsh hospitals). Each inspector was given a set of forms containing questions as to the general sanitary circumstances of the district, its sanitary administration and cholera precautions.

Under the first of these three headings the inspectors were to report on the condition of dwellings and their surroundings, the purity and sufficiency of the water supply, the efficiency of public sewage, domestic drainage and sewage disposal, methods of excrement and refuse disposal and removal, and the condition and nature of supervision over registered premises and trades. As regarded ‘sanitary administration’ the inspectors were to report on the general character and efficiency of the administration of the local sanitary authority, noting the bylaws, regulations and adoptive Acts in force. They were also to report on the work done by the local Medical Officer of Health and Inspector of Nuisances, and on the provisions made for dealing with infectious diseases and ‘infected articles’.

As to ‘Cholera Precautions’ the inspectors were instructed to ascertain what general arrangements existed in each district to deal with an outbreak of cholera and what special arrangements had been made for action in an emergency. Detailed reports were made and submitted to the local sanitary authorities together with recommendations for improvements. Only the detailed reports for Sunderland were reproduced in the Report, for the other districts abstracts were published.

The inspection of the County Borough of Sunderland was made on 19 April 1894, the district covered Sunderland, Bishopwearmouth, South Bishopwearmouth and Monkwearmouth with a population in 1891 of 131,015. The chief industries were shipbuilding, engineering, mining, seafaring and glass-blowing. The sewers are described in detail and house drainage. There were an estimated 4,000 water closets and 1,100 ‘tub closets’ (galvanised iron tubs) in the district, but the majority of houses used privy middens which were found to be mostly of a ‘very defective type’. The local Medical Officer of Health was John Caudell Wood, who was paid a salary of £500 p.a. with an additional £20 as Port Medical Officer of Health and £5 as Public Analyst. He was described as having a good knowledge of his district but ‘wanting in judgment’, and therefore ‘cannot be regarded as a very satisfactory officer’.

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Extracts from the 6-inch OS map of Sunderland published in 1898. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Sunderland Isolation Hospital was found to be a good brick building for 42 patients, situated on an isolated site about two miles north-west of the Town Hall. (This is probably what became Havelock Hospital east site, formerly Sunderland Borough Infectious Diseases Hospital, the west site being formerly the infectious hospital for Sunderland Rural District, situated to the west of Bishopwearmouth cemetery on Hylton Road.) It had been built in 1890, and consisted of two fever pavilions each for 16 beds designed generally on the lines of Plan C of the LGB 1892 memorandum, and an isolation pavilion for 10 beds on the lines of Plan D in the 1888 memorandum. There was also an admin block, with accommodation for 11 nurses and 9 servants as well as a medical officer and matron, a mortuary, post-mortem room, laundry, and disinfecting house.

Emergency plans included arrangements for opening the ‘House of Recovery’ as a cholera hospitals, this had been the old borough fever hospital a the end of Dunning Street near the river and could take about twelve patients.The following is Robert Taylor’s  list of the English isolation hospitals noted in the report. The page numbers are those given in the Blue Books, not the report’s pagination. There are some oddities: Bishop Auckland Urban District’s isolation hospital was in converted dog kennels, while at Lyme they set aside a room in a warehouse on the Cobb. At Dudley they had built a hospital comprising three blocks and a tent on a pit mound, which the inspector described as ‘very bad’. It supposedly only had space for six patients, although it had been used for 23 smallpox patients.

Sanitary Survey

The ‘Report on the Inland Sanitary Survey, 1893-95’, by the late F. W. Barry, undertaken for the Local Government Board was published in Parliamentary Papers 1896 XXXVII, pp 669ff. Just how Mr Barry met his death is not recorded, but we trust that it was not a direct result of the time spent investigating hospitals. He presented, albeit posthumously, a series of short descriptions of a sample of infectious diseases hospital visited between 1893 and 1895. A list and summary may be of some use, even if only to show what sort of buildings are missing from our own survey a century later. The abbreviations used are familiar – UD for Urban District, B for Borough, CB for County Borough.

Amble UD. A small cottage is rented for an isolation hospital, an unsatisfactory arrangement. [p.682]
Ashby de la Zouch UD. An old barn converted into a four-room cottage, very unsatisfactory. [p.684]
Ashton in Makerfield. A small eight-bed hospital, with no accommodation for two diseases in both sexes. [p.685]
Bacup B. A converted mill is used in common with Todmorden, Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge UDs. no means of separating two diseases. [p.687]
Banbury B. A well-built hospital of 1890. [p.688]
Bedlingtonshire UD An old granary converted to isolation hospital, with eight beds; unsatisfactory. [p.694]
Berwick on Tweed B. There are two wooden hospitals, one with four beds for the town, one with eight beds for port cases. [p.698]
Beverley B. Two hospital tents purchased in 1892. [p.700]
Bideford B. A six-bed hospital built in 1885; cannot separate two diseases. [p.701]
Bingley UD. Temporary hospitals shared with Keighley UD and RD, for smallpox cases only. [p.703]
Bishop Auckland U. Dog kennels converted, with five beds; unsatisfactory. [p.704]
Boston B. A converted farmhouse with 12 beds, used jointly with the Rural and Port authorities. [p.706]
Brandon and Byshottles UD. A temporary hospital built in 1891 with 16 beds; cannot isolate two diseases in both sexes. [p.707]
Bridport B. Temporary wooden hospital provided for cholera in 1866. [p.710]
Burton on Trent B. Three temporary hospitals; a permanent 30-bed hospitals being built in August 1893. [p.714]
Calne B. With Calne RD has a well-arranged hospital of 10 beds built in 1889. [p.716]
Carlisle B. Sixteen beds are provided permanently at Crozier Lodge Hospital, and further 16 are reserved. [p.719]
Chesterfield B. An unsatisfactory 10-bed hospital. [p.723]
Clay Cross. A four-ward building for smallpox on an old pit heap, used as two cottages in May 1894. [p.724]
Darlaston U. A house was purchased in 1885 and a tent was recently bought. Very unsatisfactory.[p.737]
Doncaster B. An old dilapidated house for smallpox, very unsuitable. In 1892 temporary wooden buildings were erected for cholera, but it is only used for the families of smallpox victims. [p.741]
Dronfield U. Four four-room cottages have recently been bought, but were unfurnished in May 1894. [p.744]
Dudley CB. The Infectious Diseases Hospital consists of three blocks and a tent on a pit mound, and is very bad. There is only space for six patients, but it was used for 23 smallpox patients. [p.745]
Durham B. An iron hospital being built in June 1894, very unsatisfactory. [p.746] {Is this by any chance the hospital supplied by Humphreys of Knightsbridge some time before 1914?}
East Retford. A farmhouse, only suitable for one disease at a time. [p.747]
Exeter CB. There are two ward blocks, one of wood and cement with four wards, one of brick and stone with two wards. Unsatisfactory and crowded.[p.753]
Faversham B. A brick hospital, with an administration building, a ward block with two wards each 10 by 13 feet and 13 feet high, and outbuildings. [p.756]
Gainsborough UD. Hospital consists of an administration building, two ward pavilions of brick, and a temporary wooden ward block. Apparently only used for smallpox. [p.759]
Great Yarmouth. Hospital being erected November 1893. [p.767]
Harwich B. Hospital at Dovercourt, built in 1882 with eight beds. [p.770]
Hastings CB. A building was purchased in 1874 and has 35 beds. Later a 30-bed iron hospital was bought for smallpox. The site is inadequate. [p.771]
Havant UD. Hospital shared with Havant RD, consists of two ward blocks, with 16 beds. [p.772]
Heanor UD. An eight-room cottage, used for smallpox; unsatisfactory. [p.775]
Heath Town UD. A temporary 10-bed smallpox building was recently erected with Wednesfield UDC. [p.777]
Hereford B. A 16-bed corrugated iron hospital built in 1893; unsatisfactory. [p.779] {Another Humphreys hospital?}
Herne Bay UD. Two cottages bought in 1891; unsatisfactory. [p.780]
Huntingdon B. An old brick house called the ‘Pest House’ with five beds, very unsatisfactory. [p.790] {Built in 1760 for £95 15s and now demolished}
Ilfracombe UD. A farmhouse at Mullacott for four patients, and a private house at Ilfracombe for six patients; very unsatisfactory. [p.793]
Ilkeston B. An 18-bed temporary wooden building provided in 1888 during a smallpox epidemic. [p.795]
Ipswich CB. Satisfactory 36-bed hospital. [p.796]
Keighley B. Keighley and B. J. H. B. have a temporary smallpox hospital. [p.797]
Lincoln CB. Temporary wooden building for smallpox cases. [p.805]
Longton B. An old cottage used for smallpox cases. [p.810]
Loughborough B. A cottage is rented as a hospital; unsatisfactory. [p.811]
Lyme B. A room in a warehouse on the Cobb. [p.817]
Margate B. Temporary 44-bed hospital at Northwood, shared with Ramsgate and Broadstairs. [p.819]
Maryport UD. A 4-bed hospital built on the model plan. [p.821]
Millom UD. A temporary hospital near the pier is used for cholera. [p.824]
Newark on Trent B. A 6-bed wooden hospital. [p.831]
Newbold and Dunston UD. A 12-bed temporary hospital used for smallpox cases only. [p.832]
Newcastle under Lyme B. An 18-bed hospitals built in 1872, now dilapidated. [p.834]
New Romney B. A temporary 12-bed iron hospital built in 1893, unsatisfactory. [p.837]
Northam UD. A temporary iron and wood hospital near Appledore, with no fittings, water supply, etc. [p.838]
Norwich. An excellent hospital completed in 1893. [p.840]
Oldbury UD. Smallpox hospital is a block of cottages leased by the Authority; unsatisfactory. [p.842]
Ormskirk UD. Hospital of four wards and six beds in one acre, built shortly before March 1894. [p.843]
Pemberton UD. One pavilion containing four wards and eight beds, built in 1886. [p.845]
Penrith UD. Hospital has two pavilions with 12 beds. In 1894 a new hospital building of two pavilions with eight beds, set in 2.5 acres. [p.848]
Poole B. Permanent hospital of 6 beds built in 1875. A temporary smallpox hospital built in 1886, with poor fencing. [p.850]
Runcorn UD. Two wards with 12 beds, built in 1881. Temporary building with 20 beds for smallpox cases erected on same site. [p.858]
Salford CB. Hospital at Ladywell built in 1884 with 5 pavilions set in 13 acres. Also a modern smallpox hospitals with 50 beds. [p.864]
Shipley UD. A ten-bed hospital at Stoney Ridge built according to the Board’s model plan. [p.872]
Shrewsbury B. An emergency hospital built in 1893 with two wards each with 3 beds, of iron lined with wood. Very unsatisfactory. [p.873]
Sidmouth UD. Wooden 10-bed hospital built in 1884, with no furniture, and which has never been used. [p.874]
Sittingbourne UD. A satisfactory 24-bed hospitals built in 1884. [p.876]
Stalybridge B. A building bought in 1888 and partly fitted up but never used. [p.887]
Stockport CB. Hospital with 28 beds in two pavilions, each with three wards, opened in 1881. A separate smallpox hospital at Whitehall. [p.891]
Truro B. St Mary’s Parish Workhouse fitted up, suitable for one disease only. [p.906]
Warrington B. A satisfactory 40-bed hospitals built in 1877. [p.916]
Widnes B. A satisfactory 24-bed hospital built in 1887. [p.920]
Wigan CB. A satisfactory 60-bed hospital built in 1889. [p.921]
Workington B. The old workhouse used, unsatisfactory. [p.927]

Isolation Hospitals

The Annual Report of the Local Government Board for 1914-15 (P.P. 1914-15 XXV, 29-30) gives some interesting information about hospitals. It is also interesting for referring to the conflict as the Great War as early as 1915.

In the early months of the First World War, it was discovered that the existing isolation hospital accommodation was often insufficient for the extra military population of the area. This was particularly the case in Eastern Command. In some districts, huts of an army pattern were built in the grounds of existing isolation hospitals by agreement between the local military and the hospital authorities. It was intended that after the war the local authority would buy the building from the military at a percentage of the original cost. These huts did not provide floor space to the requirements of the Local Government Board, and after a meeting with the Board, Eastern Command adopted a design by their architect which was a modification of the Board’s Model D of the Memorandum of May 1902. The pavilion had two ten-bed wards and two one-bed wards, was 24 feet wide, and provided 144 square feet of floor space for each bed.

The War Office built these pavilions at the following hospitals: Biggleswade (1 pavilion); Bedford (1 pavilion); East Grinstead (1 pavilion); Guildford (1 pavilion); Tring (2 pavilions); Chelmsford (1 pavilion); Bletchingley (1 pavilion); Dunstable (1 pavilion); Rochester (1 pavilion); Folkestone (2 pavilions).

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Folkestone Isolation Hospital. The two blocks added during the First World War are the pair to the south. Extract from the 2nd edition OS map revised 1937-8, reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Before this plan was completed, several authorities who objected to the original army hut prepared plans of their own, which were submitted to the LGB in the usual way. These authorities were: Northampton (2 pavilions); Colchester (2 pavilions); Ipswich (2 pavilions); Orsett Joint Hospital Board (1 pavilion).

Of those which came within the area covered by the Cambridge office (where Robert Taylor was based), the two wards built at Ipswich had been demolished, although OS maps showed their distinctive outline (which was the same as the single pavilion built in 1914-15 as the Ipswich Smallpox Hospital). At Northampton there was a pair of pavilions with sanitary annexes with stalks at each end, and the readily identifiable double projections of single wards flanking the duty room. The potentially more interesting military blocks at Bedford, Biggleswade and Dunstable did not survive. The block at Biggleswade appears from maps to have been a plain rectangular structure without any projections for sanitary annexes or duty rooms. The most likely pavilion shown on maps of Biggleswade was another plain rectangular building, with a central rear sanitary annexe with narrow stalk. no building can be identified on maps of Bedford.

The Hospitals Investigator 8

The eighth newsletter that Robert Taylor produced from the RCHME Cambridge office was written almost exactly 23 years ago, in November 1992. I was delighted to hear from Robert recently, and to receive his blessing for reproducing his work here. It was good to hear that he would seem to be just as productive in his retirement, and has not lost his interest in hospital buildings in general or the machinations of the Local Government Board in particular.

L0024801 The Cruciform Building, University College Hospital, London: Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org The Cruciform Building, University College Hospital, London: perspective from the south-east. Colour lithograph. Coloured Lithograph Published: [19--] Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

University College Hospital, designed by Alfred Waterhouse and built between 1897 and 1906. It is now UCL’s Cruciform Building. Image from the Wellcome Library reproduced under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 

This issue largely consisted of lists: hospital designs by Alfred Waterhouse, culled from the list of works in Colin Cunningham’s monograph; locations where Humphreys’ patent iron hospitals were erected as given in an advertisement published in 1915; and plans of hospitals published in the aptly named R. Ward’s 1949 book the Design and Equipment of Hospitals. The list of Humphrey’s hospitals has already featured in a separate post which can be found here, the two others are transcribed below.

Apart from the lists we were informed of the novel re-use of the Oxford Smallpox Hospital, a corrugated-iron building with all the characteristics of one of Mr Humphreys’ constructions (1900 catalogue, no.3), which, no longer needed for patients, was the centre of a flourishing enterprise called Spend-a-Penny Event Hire, from which people holding large parties and public entertainments can borrow certain necessary portable buildings. (I can find no reference to this company today, so perhaps the Oxford Smallpox Hospital has finally gone out of use.)

In other news, the Cambridge team had lately visited their first army hospital dating from before the reforms influenced by the Crimean War, and were fascinated by the planning. (Kathryn Morrison, Robert’s partner in crime in the Cambridge team, went on to write the chapter on military hospitals in English Hospitals, 1660-1948: A Survey of Their Architecture and Design.) Here is Robert’s description of the Peninsula Barracks Hospital at Winchester:

‘On each of three storeys were three wards on either side of a central stair. Only the end wards had cross-ventilation. The hospitals remained in use until December 1985, and the fittings on the walls allowed us to see that there had been eleven beds in each of the larger wards, and ten in the smaller ones. The larger wards were paced at 34ft by 19ft and the smaller wards 29ft by 19ft, which gives floor areas for the wards of 646 and 551 sq ft respectively. The height of the wards was not measured (we do not yet have a successful technique for walking up walls), but allowing for a 13ft height gives cubic volumes of 7,163 and 8,398 cubic ft respectively. Miss Nightingale would have been horrified to work out that this means that the beds in the larger wards had 763 cubic feet each, and those in the smaller wards (which were not cross-ventilated properly) a mere 716 cubic feet. Moreover, as the hospital was apparently built for 130 beds this suggests that the beds were more congested in 1985 than in 1855.’

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Extract from the 2nd edition OS map revised 1894-5, showing the barracks hospital fronting St James’s Street (now Romsey Road). Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland. The hospital building has been converted to private flats, but some of the other former barracks buildings now form part of Winchester’s Military Museums.

‘The original sanitation was contained in a small room opening off the half-landings of the staircase, but some time early in the present century a larger room was added to this. In addition, a four-foot square sanitary tower was added between each end ward and its neighbour, with a triangular lobby contrived in the wall between the wards to give unventilated access.’

‘This account hardly inspires faith in the care that the army lavished on its cannon fodder, although we should perhaps bear in mind that this was presumably not for usual hospital cases but complaints such as influenza and sore feet that needed to be taken out of the barrack block near by.’

Waterhouse

Works listed in Colin Cunningham and Prudence Waterhouse’s, Alfred Waterhouse, 1830-1905: Biography of a Practice, Clarendon Press, 1992. Although the word hospital is not in the otherwise good index, there is a list of some 647 commissions and works, including nine hospitals. An abstract follows, using the numbers in Cunningham’s list. (Curiously Robert omitted what to me is Waterhouse’s best-known hospital building, the extraordinary cruciform University College Hospital built 1897-1906, replaced by the new UCH on Euston Road, now used by University College London, and shorn of some ugly later additions.)

[111] Manchester Royal Infirmary, Piccadilly, 1861. Renovation and valuation, re-ventilation and design of memorial tablet to J. C. Harter (Office correspondence in private collection).
[146] Cheadle, Royal Lunatic Asylum, 1863. Additional villas, cost £2,620. (Drawings and correspondence at RIBA).
[210] Macclesfield Infirmary competition, 1865. Withdrew, with compensation.
[218] Manchester Royal Infirmary, Piccadilly, 1865. New stables etc. (demolished) cost £340 (Office correspondence etc. in private collection and RIBA).
[293] Cheadle, Royal Lunatic Asylum, 1868-9, chapel. (Office archives in private collection).
[447] London, University College Hospital, Gower Street, 1877. Sketch plan for rebuilding, not executed. (Office archives in private collection).
[488] Liverpool, alterations to old asylum building to form Liverpool University, 1881-3, cost £4,450. (it is not clear from the text what sort of asylum this was).
[532] Liverpool Royal Infirmary, hospital, nurses’ home and medical school, 1886-92. Cost £123,500. (Drawings at RIBA and Infirmary)

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Part of Royal Liverpool Infirmary, photographed in 2009 © John Bradley CC-BY-SA-3.0

[571] Manchester, St Mary’s Hospital (demolished), maternity hospital, cost £65,140. Designed 1891, built 1899ff. (Drawings at RIBA).
[599] Liverpool University Medical School, extension, 1895-7, cost £1,795.
[628] Nottingham General Hospital, Jubilee Wing, 1898. Circular ward block with sanitary tower; laundry; out patients’ department; staircases and lift. (Cited by S. A. Smith in Courtauld theses of 1970 but not corroborated by Cunningham).
[630] Rhyl, Royal Alexandra Hospital, 1898. Cost £30,430.
[643] Newbury, Children’s Hospital, 1900. (Cited by S. A. Smith as above, not corroborated by Cunningham). This hospital is also unknown to the Cambridge office, although we may be able to suggest confusion with an earlier scheme by a different architect in a nearby village.

Ward on Hospitals

In 1949 Ronald Ward published his book The Design and Equipment of Hospitals. It is illustrated by both typical designs and by plans drawn from a very small number of real buildings. Here is a list of the plans of real hospitals, and the page number.

Addenbrooke’s Hospital, X-ray department p.199
Birmingham Hospital Centre layout p.27; operating theatre p.216
Brentwood District Hospital p.193
Central Middlesex County Hospital, children’s wards p.253
Coventry Infectious Hospital, general plan p.283; general ward p.285
German Hospital, wards p.164; children’s wards p.255
Guy’s Hospital, psychiatric clinic p.268
Hammersmith Hospital, reception department p.125; ante-natal department p.138
Harefield Hospital, stores p.65; laundry p.111; observation wards p.278; children’s block p.279; men’s or women’s block p.280
Harefield Sanatorium, general plan p.276
Hospital for Sick Children, nurses’ home p.93
Leeds general infirmary, outpatients’ department p.129-30; private wards p.232; kitchen for private wards p.233
Leeds, Institute of Pathology p.149
Maccelsfield Infirmary, nurses’ home p.97
Monkwearmouth Hospital, outpatients’ department p.134
Monkwearmouth and Southwick Hospital, electric department p.202
North Eastern Isolation Hospital, receiving block p.286; general wards p.290, p.292
North Western Hospital, laboratory p.147
Queen Charlotte’s Hospital, operating theatre p.222
Royal Masonic Hospital, power house p.59; nurses’ home pp 95-6; wards p.165; electric department p.210; operating theatre p.217

V0014883 Royal Masonic Hospital, London: three-quarter view of the ad

Royal Masonic Hospital, Burnet, Tait and Lorne architects, 1933 from the Wellcome Library  licensed for reuse CC BY 4.0

St Bartholomew’s Hospital, wards p.177; operating theatre p.220
Scarborough Hospital, layout p.30; nurses’ home p.98; laundry p.110; outpatients’ department p.135; wards p.181; X-ray department p.201; operating theatre p.220; maternity ward p.239; children’s wards p.254
Surbiton Hospital, Kitchen p.79; nurses’ home p.99; mortuary p.116; wards p.178; X-ray department p.200; operating theatre p.222; maternity ward p.243
Tolworth Isolation Hospital, pavilion ward p.287; cubicle ward p.291
Welwyn Cottage Hospital, pp 32-3
West London Hospital, operating theatre p. 219
Westminster Hospital, kitchen p.77; nurses’ home p.92; casualty department p.123; outpatients’ department p.133; wards p.172; operating theatre p.218
Wolverhampton Eye Infirmary, outpatients’ department p.141

Humphreys’ Hospitals

This post takes another look at prefabs and temporary buildings, following on from those featuring Doecker and Ducker. Perhaps the most prolific supplier and manufacturer in England was Humphreys of Knightsbridge.  It was Humphreys’ firm which, in 1907,  provided the wood and iron hut for the British Antarctic Expedition led by Ernest Shackleton, that was assembled by the team in 1908 at Cape Royds, on the coast of the Antarctic continent. The hut was still  standing in 2009 when Henry Worsley and two descendants of that party retraced Shackleton’s steps, and stayed in the hut.

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Shackleton’s hut, image from a southern migration posted January 2010 

James Charlton Humphreys (1848-1932) ‘small in stature… big in business’. Humphreys’ activities in Knightsbridge were covered in the Survey of London’s  Knightsbridge volume. James’ father, also James, had been a corn dealer in the 1850s moving into iron and steel by the 60s. James Charlton Humphreys, was the youngest of the five sons listed in the 1851 census at their home in Smith Street, Chelsea. He started out as a dealer in iron before becoming an iron merchant and contractor. In the 1881 census he was employing 20 men and living at Albert Gate, Knightsbridge with his wife and two young daughters.

 

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This is the most familiar form of corrugated-iron building to be seen today, a ‘tin tabernacle’. Corrugated-iron building at Snelsdon © Copyright Andrew Abbott and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The iron-buildings business at one time had occupied a former floorcloth factory in Hill Street (Trevor Place), but by the early twentieth century was largely carried on in Pimlico, the company’s offices and showrooms remaining at Albert Gate Mansions.  Humphreys himself became a well-known local figure, not only as an industrialist and property-owner but also as a member of the Westminster Vestry and a Volunteer officer. In the 1911 Census when James Humphreys was living in a large house in Haslemere, Surrey, he described himself as chairman of the firm, Humphreys Ltd ‘contractors for buildings of every description’.

In the 1922 edition of Henry Franklin Parsons’ book on isolation hospitals there is a chapter titled ‘Movable hospitals and hospitals of more or less perishable construction’ which illustrates some of Humphreys’ temporary hospital buildings and discusses their construction, merits and deficiencies. The one deficiency that they were unaware of at the time, sadly, was the health risk associated with asbestos. Fireproofing was a primary concern for this type of building which was essentially a large wooden shed heating by an iron coal or wood-burning stove. Lozenge-shaped asbestos-cement tiles in red, white or grey were often used in place of corrugated iron for the walls or roofs, internal lining of the huts was either the highly flammable match-boarding or asbestos-cement fireproof sheeting. As Parsons noted, match-board lining became very dry over time, and flames ran along the spaces between the timbers so that ‘buildings of this sort have in many instances been rapidly consumed, in some case with loss of life’. The danger point was where the flue of the stove passed through the roof or wall. As the buildings were so badly insulated, the stove was stoked up and the pipe overheated. Generally they were hot in summer, cold in winter and noisy in hail storms or heavy rain. (When I was a child, my family lived for a time in a house with a corrugate-iron roof, and I well remember waking up in terror the first time it rained as the noise was extraordinary – l thought it sounded like gunfire.)

The lightness of these buildings held further dangers: ‘Frame buildings covered with wood or iron have also been on several occasions blown over or wrecked during a storm, causing much hardship to the patients’. This seems something of an understatement. In Scotland a Deocker hospital hut put up in 1895 by the Lorn District Committee at Ellenabeich, Kilbrandon, was mostly blown into the sea and lost during a gale within a year of its erection.

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I don’t know where exactly the but was erected, but this is an extract from the first edition OS map showing Ellenabeich, Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland 

Humphreys’ patent iron hospitals were covered in Robert Taylor’s Hospitals Investigator issue no.8. He had come across an advertisement for their buildings in The Hospital, one of the most useful journals published in that period for information on hospital design. The advertisement, on p.429, volume 57 for 6 February 1915, gave a list of places where Humphreys’ iron hospitals had been erected.

180px-Im1895POLon-Hump‘From the presence of names such as Thingoe it is clear that this is not simply a list of places where hospitasl were built, but includes an uncertain number of names of local authorities that are different from the locations of the buildings, an important difference when it comes to identifying the buildings. ‘Oxford’ clearly means the surviving hospital at Garsington, the Gosport and Portsmouth hospitals survived in the early 1990s, and the Wareham hospital was said to survive in use as a house. Netley was of course the Welsh Hospital. Many others are known to be demolished, including Eton, Hardingstone, Ipswich, Loewstoft, Plymouth, Slough, Stowmarket, and Thingoe. Of those that can be identified at present, a large proportion seem to be smallpox hospitals. The Bury St Edmunds example could be either the municipal smallpox hospital or a private tuberculosis sanatorium already known to be by Hmphrey; both are now gone.

The advertisement also gives the current prices for hospitals, but omits to say how much ground work has to be done by the client. The prices quoted range from £403 for a 12-bed hospital to more than twice that, £820, for 40 beds.

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Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 09.27.25The list of places in England is a long one:

Abingdon, Accrington, Amble, Ampthill, Annfield Plain, Ashby de la Zouch, Asylums Board, Barking, Barrow in Furness, Barton Regis, Beaconsfield, Bedford, Bedminster, Biddulph, Bideford, Bierley Hall, Birmingham, Bishops Castle, Blackpool, Blyth, Bolton, Bootle, Bournemouth, Boxmoor, Bracknell, Bradford, Bridgenorth, Brighton, Bristol, Buckingham, Bury, Bury St Edmunds, Canterbury, Castleford, Chatham, Charlton, Chester, Chester le Street, Chesterfield, Cleckheaton, Coalville, Crediton, Croydon, Dagenham, Darenth, Dartford, Devonport, Doncaster, Dorking, Dover, Durham, Easling, Eastbourne, East Ham, Eastry, Enfield, Eston, Eton, Finchley, Fulham, Gillingham, Gravesend, Grays, Great Yarmouth, Greenhithe, Gloucester, Godalming, Gosport, Guildford, Halifax, Hambledon, Hampstead Norris, Hanley Castle, Hants reformatory, Hardingstone, Harrogate, Hayes, Hebburn on Tyne, Hereford, Hertford, Hexham, Hitchin, Homerton, Houghton le Spring, Hungerford, Hythe, Ilkley, Ipswich, Jarrow, Keighley, Kendal, Keynsham, Kidderminster, Kingsholme, Kings Norton, Lambeth, Leeds, Leicester, Leigh (Essex), Leigh (Manchester), Leighton Buzzard, Lewes, Leyton, Liverpool, Liversedge and Mirfield, Lowestoft, Ludlow, Luton, Macclesfield, Maidenhead, Maidstone, Malvern Link, Manchester, Mansfield, Manson, Market Harborough, Melton Mowbray, Netley, New Quay, Northfleet, Northleach, Newcastle on Tyne, Oldham, Orsett, Otley, Oxford, Plymouth, Portland, Portsmouth, Ramsgate, Rawtenstall, Redcar, Redhill, Rochester, Rochford, Rushden, St Albans, Salford, Scarborough, Seacroft, Sedgefield, Shanklin, Sheffield, Shirehampton, Slough, Southampton, South Shields, South Stoneham, Stamford, Stannington, Stapleton, Stockwell, Stone, Stowmarket, Stratford upon Avon, Tadcaster, Taunton, Thingoe, Tonbridge, Tottenham, Tunbridge Wells, Tynemouth, Uppingham Upton on Severn, Uxbridge, Wakefield, Ware, Wareham, Warwick, Watford, Wellingborough, Welwyn, West Ham, Weston super Mare, Whatstandwell, Whitehaven, Whitwood, Wigan, Willesden, Willington Quay, Wimbledon, Windsor, Wolverhampton, Wombourne, Worcester

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Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 09.27.39Of these, further information can be given the following:

Bury St Edmunds: this is probably the Humphrey sanatorium built in 1910 for a private company as the Bury and West Suffolk Sanatorium.

Chesterfield: the Borough Council had a temporary 10-bed hospital in 1895, considered unsatisfactory by the LGB inspector (PP 1896 XXXVII, 723)

Durham: the Borough Council built an iron hospital in 1894 which the LGB considered unsatisfactory even before completed (PP 1896 XXXVII, 746).

Gosport: one building was extant in the early 1990s, collapsing but still in use, recognizable as Humphrey’s.

Hereford: the Borough Council erected a 16-bed hospital of corrugated iron lined with wood in 1893, considered unsatisfactory by the LGB inspector (PP 1896 XXXVII, 779)

Keighley: perhaps the ‘temporary’ smallpox hospital here in 1894 (PP 1896 XXXVII, 797)

Leigh (Manchester): Leigh Joint Hospital Board was constituted in 1894; a smallpox hospital at Astley consisted of two corrugated iron buildings, presumably Humphrey’s. One had 16 beds and a nurses’ bedroom, the other 12 beds and a nurses’ bedroom and a kitchen (PP 1909 XXVIII, 81).

Macclesfield: in 1887 a ‘Ducker temporary hospital’ was erected here for smallpox, this may have been replaced or supplemented by a Humphreys model about 1890 (PP 1890 XXXIV, 129).

Netley. The Welsh Military Hospital, built in 1914 to the designs of E. T. and E. S. Hall at a cost of between £6,500 and £7,000 as a gift from the people of Wales to the fighting forces. It was first erected on the parade ground at Netley Hospital, with the intention of moving it to France later.

Orsett: the Joint Hospital Board erected a Humphrey’s corrugated iron building at Thurrock in 1901 (PP ?1901, XXVI, 140)

Oxford: the borough smallpox hospital was in Garsington parish, with a building recognizable as Humphrey’s containing two wards, an administration building with a few characteristics, and a small mortuary, all surviving in the early 1990s.

Portsmouth: A recognizable Humphrey block with two wards survives as an addition of 1909 to the municipal infectious diseases hospital now (1992) St Mary’s Hospital; it is used as Medical Records.

Thingoe: Thingoe Rural District Council, Bury St Edmunds, built a ‘temporary’ wood and iron hospital for smallpox in 1902 for £606 (PP 1909 XXVIII, 57).

Windsor: the smallpox hospital here was a temporary corrugated iron building erected alongside the sewage farm in 1893 to cope with a smallpox epidemic (PP 1900 XXXIV 99).

See also the isolation hospital, Arne, Purbeck, Dorset. From Michael Russell Wood’s Dorset’s Legacy in Corrugated Iron, 2012. “Halfway between Wareham and Corfe Castle, just off Soldiers Road, Arne, stand the Isolation Hospital and Nurses’ Bungalow. They were put up in the early 1900s. This hospital is the finest remaining example of the type and, together with the bungalow, is listed grade II. These are the only listed iron buildings in Dorset.”