Hospitals Investigator 11 revised

In February 1993, Robert Taylor from the Cambridge team of the RCHME Hospitals Project, produced his eleventh newsletter. Here are snippets on prefabricated hospitals by Humphreys, early prison infirmaries, provision of accommodation for tuberculosis in workhouses, the Metropolitan Asylums Board, Portal Frames and Wimborne Cottage Hospital (with a few digressions from me).

More Humphreys’ Hospitals

Another advertisement for Humphreys’ Iron Hospitals lists places where hospitals have been provided, but this time of 1895. All but three of the hospitals are also on the list published in 1915. As Humprheys provided buildings for the Metropolitan Asylums Board, is there any chance that they made the iron buildings of about 1894 at Colney Hatch asylum that burnt with such dramatic effect in 1903?

The three mentioned on the earlier list but not on the later one were: New Calverley, Romney, and Nottingham. ‘London’ is also listed. There are 102 places listed altogether.

Howard and Prisons

That a shortened version of John Howard’s The State of the Prisons should have been considered a sufficient work of literature to be added to the Everyman Library in 1929 is almost as amazing as the record of cruelty and discomfort contained within the book. The Everyman edition is taken from the third edition of Howard’s book, published in 1784.

Gateway to the County Gaol at Southwark, from Survey of London vol.25

By 1784 few prisons had an infirmary. The impression gained from skipping through Howard is that there were normally two rooms, one for each sex, but that these rooms were commonly on an upper storey and that they were not very large. At the Manchester County Bridewell, built in 1774, there were two rooms 14ft by 12ft. The Chelmsford County Gaol, completed in about 1778, had only one room, described by Howard as ‘close’ and therefore not used. The two rooms at the recently built Southwark County Gaol were also described as close, with only one small window each, and they too appear to have been little used because of this unsuitability. Whether the infirmaries were on the upper floor to get superior ventilation above the noisome cells is not clear; it could be that they were less convenient and so devoted to a less important function.

Howard himself considered that dryness and ventilation should be the principal factors. Howard also paid attention to the extent to which building were lime-washed. This he regarded in keeping with contemporary theory, as the one remedy for both infectious diseases and ‘bugs’ (vermin). Lime-washing as often as twice a year would kill disease and infestation. Many years later, in 1832, lime-washing houses was often tried as a precaution against cholera.

The fourth edition of Howard’s book published in 1792 was illustrated, and included a model plan and elevations.

Howard listed the most important features of an infirmary or sick ward in a prison as:
1. It should be in an airy part of the court
2. It should be detached from the rest of the gaol
3. It should be raised on arcades
4. The centre of the ward floor should have a grating for ventilation, 12 to 14 inches square
5. Perhaps there should be hand ventiltors

Some of these features can be seen in his model plan for a county gaol published in the 1792 edition of the State of Prisons.

TB in the Workhouse

By the beginning of 1904 some 27 English Poor Law Unions admitted to having adapted wards in their workhouse for consumptive patients, so that they could be separated from the rest of the occupants. Until then consumptives were mixed indiscriminately with the rest of the inmates, and remained so mixed at other workhouses for some time. Just how little work this involved will only emerge from further investigation, but my suspicion is that a French window and a balcony was probably a generous amount of alteration. At that time, open-air treatment for tuberculosis at Sheffield Royal Infirmary consisted simply of leaving half of the windows in the ward permanently open, and it seems that many or most unions took the same approach.

The unions are as follows:
Chester – two rooms in the hospital block
Plymouth – wards (unidentified)
South Shields – 1 ward
Portsmouth – 2-storey south-facing wards adapted by insertion of French windows and balconies. Electric fans were installed but little used.
Southampton –wards (unidentified)
Bishops Stortford – 1 ward in infirmary
Medway –wards
Blackburn –men have 2nd storey of infirmary, women to have new wards then building
Prescot –ward for 20 men
Camberwell –infirmary wards
City of London –south block of infirmary
Fulham -2 infirmary wards
Hampstead – south facing wards
Kensington – 2 wards adapted
St Mary Islington –top floor of infirmary
Wandsworth –iron buildings at Tooting annex
Atcham –top ward of infirmary for 20 men
Axbridge -4 dayrooms and 4 bedrooms
Bath –two 10-bed wards adapted, windows altered, shelters and dining-room built
Frome –wards built
Stoke – 2 wards with balconies
Richmond (Surrey) -2 wards
Brighton – 3-bed ward and balcony for men; women under consideration
Stourbridge –wards with end verandas adapted
Ecclesall – wards
Sheffield –small 20-bed block being adapted

Source: L. A. Weatherley, ‘Boards of Guardians and the Crusade against Consumption’ in Tuberculosis, 3, 1904-6, p.66

L0060820 Photograph showing the roof garden<br /> Credit: The RAMC Muniment Collection in the care of the Wellcome Library. Wellcome Images<br /> images@wellcome.ac.uk<br /> http://wellcomeimages.org<br /> Photograph: "This is a picture of the sun roof showing the huts and St. Paul's church in the distant left corner"<br /> Credit: The RAMC Muniment Collection in the care of the Wellcome Library<br /> c. 1915 Royal Army Medical Corps Muniment Collection<br /> Album of photographs of the King George V Military Hospital, Stamford Street, London, First World War<br /> Published: c. 1915<br /> Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Photograph showing the roof garden c.1915 with revolving shelters, probably for convalescents rather than Tb patients. From the RAMC Muniment Collection in the care of the Wellcome Library. Reproduced under Creative Commons licence CC BY 4.0

(The mention of shelters at Bath put me in mind of this photograph of the King George V military hospital, for more on this hospital see the excellent Lost Hospitals of London website.)

Nurseries

A brief paragraph in Paul Davies’ book The Old Royal Surrey County Hospital tells us that ‘the Metropolitan Asylums Board designated King George V Hospital, Godalming, and two other of their hospitals as ‘plant propagation centres’. This is a change of use that does not appear in any of the directories, and suggests that the M. A. B. operated a very successful cover-up. Presumably they also ran a very successful and profitable business, far more profitable than curing Londoners of their physical and mental ills.

Portal Frames

Robert Taylor succinctly described the portal frame as ‘a modern version of a jointed cruck’ but was struggling to date this type of construction until stumbling over an article in The Builder from the 1940s.

Cruck Framed Barn on Aldford Village Green photographed in 2014. This thatched, oak cruck framed barn was built in 2013 in a joint project between the Eaton Estate and Chester Renaissance. The purpose was to keep heritage skills alive by using modern and old-style building materials and methods. The barn is used as a public shelter and has a brick barbecue built into the chimney. © Copyright Jeff Buck and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The Ministry of Works and Planning carried out experiments between 1939 and 1942 to design a cheap, quickly erected hut that was largely prefabricated, infinitely adaptable, and durable. By 1942 they had developed the M.O.W.P. Standard Hut with reinforced concrete jointed crucks (two bracketed posts bolted to a pair of rafters, for the benefit of readers who are not members of the Vernacular Architecture Group) as its main feature. The trusses at each end were different, having two posts carrying a tie-beam with a wooden frame above to which corrugated asbestos was nailed. The corner posts are of a distinctive shape, with a quarter-round hollow. The trusses are usually at 6-foot centres, and the building is just under 20 feet wide overall. Wall panels and roof covering are whatever is available.

These huts crop up on every type of hospital site, usually as ancillary buildings such as laboratories, if indeed any function can be ascribed to them. At Ipswich workhouse they were used to create an H-shaped addition to the infirmary with operating theatre in the central range. It seems therefore that they are unlikely to be earlier than 1942. How late this design, with concave corner posts, remained in use is not known.

This answers an old question, where the name portal frame came from. The minister of Works and Planning from 1942 to 1944 was Sir Wyndham Portal, 3rd baronet, created a baronet in 1935 and viscount in 1945. Like an earlier minister of transport he gave his name to something he did not invent, but unlike Mr Hore-Belisha’s beacon the invention took place before he became minister.

Whilst the idea that the Ministry of Works named its design after their minister, Sir Wyndham Portal, it has been gently pointed out to me that the term ‘portal frame’ was in use long before 1942. Indeed, a very quick search on the British Newspaper Archive provides evidence of its use in 1902. An article from Engineering News  reported on a novel suspension bridge constructed in Freiburg, Switzerland, designed by the Swiss engineer M. Grimaud. The bridge was supported on a timber portal frame. (Source: the article was covered in the Irish News & Belfast Morning News, 4 Oct 1902, p.6)

Operations

In 1892 the committee of Wimborne Cottage Hospital in Dorset discussed the propriety of treating pauper patients. One of the doctors said that they should not be admitted because the workhouse infirmary was better equipped to deal with operations.

Wimborne, Victoria Hospital, the original building photographed in 2015  © Copyright Mike Searle and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The hospital historian’s comment on this in 1948 was that as neither the cottage hospital or the workhouse infirmary had any equipment for operations, this probably meant that the workhouse had a bigger kitchen table. We should also remember that at this time the theatre doubled as a bathroom.

Mike Searle’s photograph above from Geograph.org.uk, is captioned with this brief account of the building’s history: 

The hospital was built in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. The land was owned by Sir John Hanham of Deans Court who leased it at a peppercorn rent on condition that the poor would be treated there. Many local people donated money towards the cost of the building including Sir Richard Glyn of the Gaunt’s estate who gave £700. It opened initially with only thirty beds, and was limited to accepting local parishioners only, but as it grew, this was extended to outlying villages. It came under the authority of the NHS in 1947 when it ceased to be a voluntary hospital.

The late Glen o’Dee Hospital, Banchory

On 13 October 2016 the former Glen o’Dee Hospital was destroyed by fire. A few days later two 13-year-old boys were charged by the police in connection with the blaze.

canmore_image_SC00813181-3Glen-o-Dee Hospital photographed in 1990 by  RCHAMS

Glen o’Dee was quite possibly the historic hospital that I most admired. The memory of stumbling across it, without knowing what to expect, has never quite lost its charm. Its future had for long been uncertain and the building lain empty since at least 1998, steadily deteriorating.

geograph-3241798-by-alan-findlay

The former Glen o’Dee hospital, photographed in 2012 © Copyright Alan Findlay and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

A new community hospital was built behind it in the 1990s, complicating plans for re-using the original building. Planning permission was granted in 2010 for redevelopment as housing, but nothing was done, and it remained on the register of Buildings at Risk in Scotland.

canmore_image_SC01166274-2Glen-o-Dee hospital photographed in 1990 by RCAHMS. The contrast with the photograph taken in 2012 is marked.

Glen o’Dee was the first Sanatorium to be built in Scotland on the fresh‑air principle. It was designed by George Coutts of Aberdeen and opened in 1900. It was constructed mainly of timber with a central tower of Hill of Fare granite. Balconies and verandas were provided for all the rooms, facing south across the Dee, and access corridors ran along the north side. The recreation pavilion added to the south‑east below the dining‑hall was built in the same style with windows running all around it.

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Extract from the 2nd-edition 25-inch OS map, surveyed in 1902 showing the newly built sanatorium. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Stylistically it was closer to the sanatoria in Germany than any others that were subsequently built in Scotland. But it was also very similar to Mundesley Sanatorium, in Norfolk, which had opened the year before.

geograph-2295314-by-evelyn-simak

The old tuberculosis hospital at Mundesley, photographed in 2011. It originally opened in 1899. © Copyright Evelyn Simak and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Glen o’Dee was originally called Nordrach‑on‑Dee, changing to Glen o’Dee when the building became a hotel for a time in 1934. It had been founded as a private sanatorium which treated TB on the Nordrach System pioneered at Nordrach in Baden, established in 1888 by Dr Otto Walther. This treatment mostly consisted of rest in the open air. Nordrach‑on‑Dee was founded by Dr David Lawson of Banchory, who had a distinguished career, pioneering work in the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis. Before the Hospital was built, much discussion took place as to the site. In 1899 Lawson published an article outlining the criteria and giving details of the eminent committee formed to acquire a suitable site. This committee consisted of, amongst others, Professors of Medicine from Aberdeen and Edinburgh Universities. According to their research Deeside’s record for minimum rainfall and maximum sunshine were favourable.

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The Bremer Sanatorium at Gobersdorf was one of the most influential of the early hospitals pioneering open-air treatment of tuberculosis. From F. R. Walters, Sanatoria for Consumptives, 1899. 

The site for Nordrach-on-Dee was purchased from Sir Thomas Burnett of Crathes for between £5,000 and £6,000. The building itself was estimated to cost £12,000. Initially there were 40 bedrooms though later additions were made. In 1928 Nordrach‑on‑Dee closed and was unused until its re‑opening as a luxurious hotel in 1934.

canmore_image_SC01241325-2A postcard of the sanatorium from c.1910 from the RCAHMS collection

Brochures surviving in NHS Grampian Archives from both its incarnations give a similar picture of the regimes at the Sanatoria and Hotel. In the earlier document the text describes how each room was  constructed so as to admit a maximum of pure sunlight and fresh air. ‘The windows occupy over two‑thirds of the outside wall space and are so arranged as to permit of their being kept open during all weathers.”

canmore_image_SC01052151-2

An old postcard of Glen-o-Dee Hospital, when it was still known as Nordrach-on-Dee, from the RCAHMS collection

It was one of the first sanatoria to use x‑rays in the treatment of TB. In 1941 the Hotel was requisitioned by the army and at the end of the war it was purchased by the Scottish Red Cross Society, who re‑fitted it as a sanatorium for ex‑service men and women suffering from TB. It was opened as such by the Queen in 1949.

canmore_image_SC01269480-2Aerofilms photograph of Glen-o-Dee hospital taken in 1950 from the RCAHMS collection

In 1955 it was transferred to the National Health Service and was latterly devoted to the care of geriatric patients. Two  single‑storey ward blocks were constructed to the rear, the most recent on the site of the former nurses’ home. In 1990 Grampian Health Board had plans to demolish part of the original sanatorium. Whilst its timber construction made it understandable that the building presented difficulties with both maintenance and fire prevention, its undoubted historic importance makes its loss regrettable.

Selected Sources: Grampian Health Board Archives, booklets on Sanatorium and Hotel. The Hospital, 1 June 1901, p.152‑3]; BBC news, online report: NHS Grampian archives website has a history and images of the hospital

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.

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.

 

geograph-1826180-by-Andrew-Abbott

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.”

The Hospitals Investigator 6

October 1992 brought forth the sixth newsletter from the Cambridge team of the RCHME Hospitals Project. It included short pieces on mortuaries and asylum farms, and accounts of the Victoria Cottage Hospital, Wimborne, Dorset, with thoughts on holiday closures of hospitals. There is also a note on Sleaford’s isolation hospital, a portable hospital with what sounds like a camper van for the nurse. Extra curricular activities at hospitals were discovered too, with money making schemes in a Yorkshire madhouse and an unofficial B&B at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

Victoria Cottage Hospital, Wimborne

This unremarkable little Dorset hospital has a history written in 1955 by someone hiding behind the initials G. H. W. From this booklet we can extract several amusing bits of hospital history.

 

First must come the sanitation. In 1887 when the hospital was built there was one earth closet for the patients. This came to light in 1907 when water was installed along with an extra closet. The operating theatre was another horror for it doubled as the bathroom from 1887 until 1904 when a new operating room was built. Even this new theatre did not have an electric light until 1934. Provision of a separate operating theatre did not end the dual use of the bathroom, however. Until 1927 it housed the telephone. In that year the telephone was moved to the matron’s office.

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Extract from the 1901 OS map. The cottage hospital is to the north-west of the town, almost on a level with the union workhouse, which is to the north-east. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Until 1924 the hospital closed completely for about a moth every year, for cleaning and repairs. During this time the staff took holidays, and the patients were dismissed. Some were sent to the small 18th-century workhouse in Wimborne, for in 1922 the Guardians sent the hospital a bill for care of patients. We have met this sort of annual closing and cleansing elsewhere, but it seems poorly documented. In 1946 the Passmore Edwards Hospital at Liskeard closed for a moth because that was the only way in which the staff could take a holiday; our source does not say whether this was a regular event. The Royal National Sanatorium at Bournemouth closed in winter, allegedly because the hospital was only intended to provide a summer break for consumptives (and thus for their carers as well). At Northampton the General Infirmary managed cleaning and repairs by simply closing one ward at a time, but as this was a large hospital part-closing was easier than in a small hospital like Wimborne.

Finally, on a frivolous note, when the townsmen were discussing whether to commemorate Victoria’s jubilee by building a hospital or by some other means, one suggestion was ‘erecting a statue of Queen Victoria with a clock on top’. Just how this was to be arranged is not explained.

Sleaford Hospital

The Sleaford Rural District Council bought an isolation hospital in 1901 for the sum of £127. It was ‘an ingenious contrivance’ of numbered wooden sections that could be put together in a few hours, measured 20 feet by 12 feet and could hold up to four patients. A van on wheels provided both accommodation for a nurse and the necessary cooking arrangements. There was also a portable steam disinfector that was reported to be too heavy to be portable. This magnificent hospital was stored at the Sleaford Workhouse, and was erected for the very first time for the benefit of an inquisitive Local Government Board inspector in 1905. It is not known whether it was ever used after that. [The inspector’s report is in Parliamentary Papers, 1907 XXVI, 200-201.]

The East Stow Rural District Council in Suffolk had a ‘small portable hospital’ for smallpox cases in 1913, and presumably this was also a sectional wooden building. [PP 1914 XXXVII, 746] In 1913 Bournemouth Corporation had lent the neighbouring Rural District Council a Doecker Hut for use as an extra hospital ward during an outbreak of enteric fever at Ringwood, another portable structure. [PP 1894 XL, 565 and see Doecker Portable Hospitals]

At least these buildings were of wood. Shortly before 1890 the Gainsborough Rural Council bought a hospital marquee for patients and a bell tent for the nurses. They were aired from time to time, but appear not to have been used. [PP 1894 XL, 565] Perhaps even these tents were better than the converted dog-kennels at Bishop Auckland in 1895. [PP 1896 XXXVII, 704]

Mortuaries

In the course of research for the project a file copy turned up of a Government questionnaire headed ‘Isolation Hospital Accommodation’, and filled in for the Southampton Smallpox Hospital. The printer’s rubric shows that it dates from 1926 and that some 10,000 copies were printed. The answers, together with a crude plan from another source, make a description of this vanished hospital possible, but there is little of interest until the question ‘is there a mortuary at the hospital?’ The answer is simply ‘Cubicles in Observation Hut used for this purpose’. The observation hut was a small building with two single-bed wards and a duty room If one cubicle was occupied by a patient, the psychological effect of comings and goings in the other cubicle can hardly have been good. Perhaps the real significance of this arrangement is that the observation wards of isolation hospitals were probably rarely used, and that there never was a living patient to be disturbed by the arrival and departure of a dead one. It also helps to suggest ways in which hospitals without mortuaries might have functioned.

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Extract from the 1934 OS map. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The smallpox hospital was at Millbrook Marsh, an inhospitable looking place even as late as the 1930s, surrounded by mud and marsh. It is interesting to see that development of the estuary was just beginning at this time, to the east is the King George V graving dock under construction. By the 1950s the hospital site had become a boat yard, re-using the existing buildings. A couple remained in the late 1960s, when the area to the north had become a sewage works, which eventually swallowed the remaining former hospital buildings.The huge Prince Charles Container Port was built over the mud flats and saltings.

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Extract from the 1897 OS map. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Southampton, in common with other ports, provided a number of isolation hospitals. As well as the smallpox hospital there was another isolation hospital at West Quay.

It is in the usual location, close to the water so that anyone arriving by ship suspected of having contracted an infectious disease could be taken directly to the hospital by boat. The site was later an Out-bathing and Disinfection Station for Infectious Diseases and later still used for a clinic and a mortuary. That was in the post-war era, and by then land reclamation had seen the site removed from the water’s edge. As far as I can make out, the Grand Harbour Hotel seems to occupy the site now.

Asylum Farms

Slowly it is becoming clear that asylum farms were unlike those in the world outside, at least in the South of England. Large barns for storing crops are absent from those seen so far, but piggeries are ubiquitous and any fragments of yards and single storey buildings appear to have been for cattle. Sometimes there are stables and cart sheds, but it is not certain that these were specifically for farm use. Indeed the buildings suggest that attention was concentrated on stock, especially pigs and cattle, and perhaps market gardening, where there was greater scope for farming as occupational therapy. At Digbys, Exeter, there is a tall building which had large opposed loading doors, one opening on to the yard, the other on to a lane outside the hospital grounds. The building is not large enough to hold much, and certainly is not suitable for storing a grain crop. It seems to have been intended for receiving bought-in material, presumably feedstuff for the pigs and cattle.

EPW024131Digby Hospital, formerly the Exeter Lunatic Asylum. The small farm complex is on the east near to the London & South Western Railway line. The buildings have been converted to housing as part of the re-development of the hospital and its site for housing.

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Extract from the 1st Edition OS Map published in 1889. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The advantages of concentration on livestock is that it would provide the asylum with pork, bacon, milk and beef, while a market garden would provide soft fruit and vegetables. All of these are labour-intensive occupations, providing maximum work throughout the year for the relatively large number of patients.

Secondary Employment

John Beal was the proprietor of a private madhouse at Nunkeeling in the Yorkshire Wolds. The financial success of this venture seems out of proportion to the small number of patients and the remoteness of its position. The truth emerged in 1823 when the excise men found 24 casks of tobacco, 25 of tea, and 264 of assorted spirits, mainly gin, concealed about the premises. Perhaps we should pay greater attention to such institutions, in the hope that more than just buildings survive.

Income

Those hospital administrators busy trying to generate income have all failed to exploit one obvious opportunity that was seen as long ago as 1770 by the Matron of Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge. The town has long had a shortage of short-term accommodation. The matron saw this and let beds to overnight visitors, presumably giving them breakfast as well. On discovering this the Governors dismissed her, partly because she was pocketing the income.

The Ducker House, American prefab of the 1880s

While hunting for Doecker portable hospital buildings I came across its American counterpart, including an illustrated catalogue advertising their wares published in or after 1888. Ducker 23 Founded by William M. Ducker of Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A. who had patented his invention, the Ducker Portable House company had offices in New York and London. The catalogue showed a variety of uses for their buildings, ranging from the utilitarian hospital hut to more elaborate garden buildings. Ease of transportation was also emphasised. Ducker 22 Here one of their portable buildings is neatly packed onto a horse-drawn wagon. While below the image shows the mode of transporting a Ducker building in mountainous countries. Ducker 2 The buildings were ‘light, durable, well ventilated, warm in winter, cool in summer, healthful and cheap’. From reading the description of the buildings they seem to be almost indistinguishable from the Danish Doecker system, the components being wooden frames, hinged together, and covered with a special waterproof fibre. The same claims are made for both that they could be assembled without skilled labour. Ducker 4This example was said to be at Wellington Barracks in London. Another was erected in Blackpool; Henry Welsh, the local Medical Officer of Health, noted in August 1888 that the recently erected building ‘gives great satisfaction, and answers its purposes admirably’. The cost of this model was given as $600. The German War Department bought one, and they had been adopted by the United States Naval and Marine Hospital Service, and several Departments of Charities and Correction. In 1885 the Red Cross Society had organised an exhibition in Antwerp of portable hospitals at which the Ducker buildings (and Doecker prefabs) had been shown. Ducker’s was awarded a special medal by the Empress of Germany and, so it was claimed, garnered the ‘warmest encomiums from civil and military surgeons, engineers, architects and philanthropists from all parts of the civilised world’. Ducker 3 Wards are suitably Spartan, the interior here measured 18 x 34 ft. The Department of Public Charities and Correction, Randall’s Island Hospital erected a Ducker house. Of the many pest houses, generally for smallpox cases, erected in America, it seems likely that if they were not actually Ducker houses, they were of a similar design, as is suggested by an early photograph of a pest house put up at Storm Lake, Iowa, photographed in 1899 (see University of Iowa libraries)
Ducker 5 Temporary buildings were widely used at large construction sites to house migrant workers. Above is an administrative building, suitable for ‘Contractors and Construction Companies’ or for a private residence. It comprised a main building 16 x 30 ft and a separate kitchen and store-room connected by a covered passage. ducker 9 The workforce would be accommodated in huts such as this one. ducker 10 This is its interior, with simple iron bunk beads, it put me in mind of the description of the bunk house in Of Mice and Men. These huts were bigger than the hospital buildings, at 30 x 30 ft, and cost just over twice as much at $1,250. ducker 7 Versatility was key to healthy sales figures, so the catalogue demonstrates a variety of different uses for the Ducker portable building. Sports pavilions were an obvious use; above an athletic and bicycle hall, others illustrated were a racing stable, a boat house and a bowling alley. A photographer’s studio could be constructed for just $375, or a billiard room for $400 (billiard table not included). ‘The attention of hotel men is called to the fact that for annexes to hotels, to be used for sleeping apartments during the rush of midsummer, these building just exactly answer the purpose’. Ducker 14 For the domestic market there was a range of summer cottages (above), lawn pavilions (below) Ducker 13and camping houses. Ducker 12 The Norton Camp House could have been yours for $150 (and upward), measuring a cosy 9 x 12 feet and weighing 450 pounds. It could accommodate four people, and opened out on all sides. Camping was not necessarily a leisure pursuit, and this camp hut was also touted for cattle ranchmen, miners, prospectors, surveyors and contractors. If you were on vacation, however,  you might have considered a bathing house. Ducker 11‘The portability of these buildings make them simply invaluable… At the end of the season they can be taken down and stored until the opening of another season. They can be constructed in any form or style desired and can be made to comfortably accommodate more people than any other building known’. Ducker 15 The Lawn pavilions were the most decorative, being intended for ornament as well as usefulness, aimed at owners of large summer residences. ‘They are constructed in decidedly artistic style.’ Ducker 16 ‘and will be found useful and delightful for ladies’ sewing, reading and painting rooms, children’s play rooms, tea and lunch rooms, tennis purposes, and sleeping rooms as well if required’ Ducker 17 If you didn’t run to summer residence with large grounds in need of a lawn pavilion, then don’t worry, you could have an entire summer cottage or camping cottage. The latter pretty much the same as the hospital huts, but the former comprised the most ornate in the Ducker range. Ducker 18 This example seems to be giving a stylistic nod towards a Chinese pagoda or an Indian bungalow. As I am heading to Fife in Scotland later in the summer, I was particularly tickled to read the testimonial on the back cover of the catalogue which was furnished by one George C. Cheape, of Wellfield house, Strathmiglo in Fife, master of the Linlithgow and Stirlingshire hounds.  ‘No country house should be without one’  he wrote: ‘It was put up in one day by the village joiner and my gamekeeper.’ He continued to effuse about the merits of the building:  ‘In wet weather the children quite live in it, and play all day. I have gymnastic apparatus put up in it, swings, etc; the consequence is a quiet house, whilst the children are enjoying healthy exercise and games to their heart’s content, where they disturb no one, and their tea-parties in the Ducker House are enjoyed by all.’ Cheape was a Captain in the 11th Hussars, Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant of Fife. He was also widely travelled, had served in India, and had visited America on three occasions, having business interests in Texas, Colorado, Arizona and California. While in America he also travelled to Canada and Mexico, and worked to promote the interests of the International Company of Mexico, of which he was a shareholder. Sources: The catalogue for Ducker Portable House Co. can be found online from archive.org, information on George Cheape was from the census, marriage records, passenger lists etc and there is a brief biography in David Pinera Ramirez, American and English Influence on the Early Development of Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, 1995 pp.99-100

Doecker portable hospitals

In the Hospitals Investigator number 5 the following list of suppliers of temporary hospital buildings was given: Humphrey’s of Knightsbridge;  Boulton and Paul of Norwich; Portable Building Company of Manchester; Hygienic Constructions and Portable Buildings Ltd; Wire Wove Roofing Company of London; G. W. Beattie of Putney; and Kenman and Sons of Dublin. To this list should be added Spiers and Co. of Glasgow, prolific providers of isolation hospitals pretty much throughout Scotland.

V0015643 Boer War: a temporary hospital hut at Netley with four nurse

A Doecker hospital hut at Netley Hospital during the Boer War, from Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images http://wellcomeimages.org V0015643

The Hygienic Constructions and Portable Buildings Ltd were the agents for temporary buildings constructed on the Doecker system  invented by Captain Döcker (usually rendered Doecker in English) of the Royal Danish Army. Johann Gerhard Clemens Döcker (1828-1904) first patented his portable building system in 1880. (He filed patents in France and Germany in October 1880,  in Denmark and Austria-Hungary in 1881, in Norway, England, Spain, Belgium, and Italy in 1882;  in Russia, Sweden and Victoria in 1883; and in New Zealand and the United States in 1884.) The full text of the patent he submitted in the United States can be read online here http://www.google.com/patents/US308833.

Three sheets of drawings provided details of his system:

Doecker 1

Sheet 1 from Doecker’s USA patent 1884. [Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office, www.uspto.gov]

‘My improved portable and impermeable structure is composed of a series of light frames which may be made of wood or metal, and for general purposes such frames are polygonal in shape. Each frame a is covered with a sheet of impermeable material,  permanently connected therewith in any suitable manner, as by nailing, riveting, or gluing. Two such frames are permanently hinged together by means of any suitable form of hinge, and a pair of such frames constitute a panel.

Doecker 2

Sheet 2 from Doecker’s USA patent of 1884. [Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office, www.uspto.gov]

‘The frames are hinged together so as to fold inwardly toward each other, so that their covering will not come in contact when folded. I prefer to cover the frames with strips of felt, which may be rendered water-proof either before or after being attached to the frames, and I prefer the latter method, especially when the felt is attached by means of nails or rivets, for the reason that the points of attachment will then be covered by the waterproofing substance applied, and produce water-proof joints, which would not be the case when the felt is applied after being rendered impermeable. This impermeability may be imparted to the felt by any one of the many waterproofing compositions or water and fire proofing compositions, or by means of oil-paints. I prefer to use felt, owing to its density and non-conductive properties, it being better adapted than any other material to shield the occupants of the structure both from heat and cold.’

Doecker 3

Sheet 3 of Doecker’s USA patent of 1884. [Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office, www.uspto.gov]

The term Doecker hospital was sometimes used generally for portable hospital buildings, whether or not they were in fact of Doecker construction. Doecker buildings were largely used on the continent, and in Britain were also used for elementary and open-air schools.  There were two types: strong or light. The strong type were intended asa a substitute for permanent brick or stone buildings, while the light were for temporary and/or portable buildings, which could be put up quickly and cheaply.

For both types the buildings were made in sections roughly 3ft x 3ft (a little less than a metre squared). These sections could be fastened together with iron hooks and studs, allowing for de-construction and re-erection on another site. The strong type comprised timber frames weather-boarded on the outer side and covered on the inside with a composition called ‘Doecker material’ – a non-inflammable, water- and acid-proof. These two layers provided a cavity that was filled with insulating material, though the walls were only 4 1/2 inches thick (about 11 cm). The roof was covered with a flexible and water-proof material (‘ruberoyd’).

The light construction had a lighter frame covered on both sides by Doecker material. The whole building was made in sections, and the packing formed the floor ‘thus saving weight, space, and freight in transit’. No foundations were required, the building sat on adjustable wooden feet. Constructed these light buildings measured 50ft x 16ft (15.24m x 4.8m) and could be erected in one day by unskilled labour. Their insulation properties were commended: ‘Portable hospitals of this construction were used by the German Red Cross Society during the cold of a Manchurian winter in the Russo-Japanese war, and they have also been used in the tropical heat of South-West Africa’.

V0015642 Boer War: the Doecker Hospital Huts at Netley with patients

An image from 1900 of Doecker hospital huts, Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images http://wellcomeimages.org V0015642

Doecker system hospital buildings, along with other prefabricated buildings, featured in H. Franklin Parson’s book Isolation Hospitals, originally published in 1914 and revised in 1922 by R. Bruce Low.

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This hospital pavilion, with is sun-catching angled wards, was a type provided by the Hygienic Constructions and Portable Buildings Ltd, Stockholm Road, South Bermondsey.

The 1922 second edition formed part of a series of books on public health and hygiene (the Cambridge Public Health series) designed to advise those working for the government and the medical profession. It addressed the way in which infectious diseases were contained and treated, and defended the government’s decision to spend a significant amount of money on isolation hospitals. Parsons and Low discussed the most advantageous designs and locations for these institutions, the containment of diseases such as small pox and tuberculosis, and the issues that arose around both the staffing of isolation hospitals and the changing provisions made for those patients affected by severe poverty.

 

 

 

The Hospitals Investigator 5

August 1992 saw the production of newsletter number five from the RCHME Cambridge office. There are snippets here about sanitary facilities – water closets and baths – and and more on temporary buildings. There are also useful indexes to information in the Parliamentary Papers, with reports on English provincial workhouse infirmaries by Edward Smith from 1867, and the enormously useful survey of hospitals in the United Kingdom carried out by Bristowe and Holmes in 1863.

Hereford Workhouse

In 1866 an inspector from the Poor Law Board visited the Hereford Union Workhouse in order to report on the infirmary. He found that the building was being greatly enlarged, and that two new wards were being built over the dining room. There was only one water closet on each side of the main building, at first floor level, but there were some other water closets in the yards that contained water aden were flushed twice or three times a week. The dry wording leaves one in doubt about the presence of water in the closets on the first floor. The rest hardly bears thinking about.

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Fred Bulmer Building, County Hospital, Hereford, originally the Hereford Union Workhouse, built in 1834, it has been refurbished with the help of a legacy from a member of the cider-making dynasty.It is now a day hospital, which performs assessment and rehabilitation services. Photographed in 2008 © Copyright Jonathan Billinger and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Workhouse Visitations

The previous insalubrious snippet came from the Report (to the Poor Law Board) of Dr Edward Smith, 15 April 1867, on 48 Provincial Workhouse Infirmaries. It is published in Parliamentary Papers 1867-8 LX, pp 325 onwards. In these reports Dr Smith examined critically the provision for the sick, and gave a table for each workhouse examined, listing for each ward the dimensions, position of windows, number of beds and fireplaces, and present function. The only plan published is a block plan of Birmingham workhouse. {This was being demolished at the time the newsletter was written, in the summer of 1992.} One of the things that emerges from this report is that by 1866 rooms in workhouses were often used in a very different way from what was originally intended. Using the pagination of the original report rather than the imposed pagination of volume LX, the 48 workhouses are as follows:

Alderbury (p.26); Amesbury (28); Atcham (30); Barton on Irwell (32); Bath (35); Bedminster (37); Biggleswade (39); Birkenhead (41); Birmingham (43); Blandford (51); Bosmere (53); Chelmsford (60); Cheltenham (63); Chesterton (65); Dartford (67); Derby (70); Devonport (73); Dudley (75); Eccleshall Bierlow (82); Edmonton (85); Fareham (87); Grantham (89); Hatfield (91); Hereford (95); Ipswich (97); Keynsham (101); Leeds (102); Leicester (106); Lincoln (108); Liverpool (111); Loughborough (115); Manchester (118); Norwich (122); Nottingham (125); Portsea Island (129); St Neots (136); Sheffield (138); Stockport (142); Totnes (144); Wimborne (148); Wirrall (149); Wolverhampton (151); Worcester (154)

Cross-Ventilation

The Portsea Island Union Workhouse Infirmary at Portsmouth was built in 1842 and extended in 1860 by an additional storey. {This later became St Mary’s General Hospital} Unfortunately we did not manage to get inside this derelict building, but we do know something of its internal arrangement. The wards on all three floors were on the South side of the range, and there was a corridor along the North side. The wards had windows on the external wall and also into the corridor (part of alterations of 1860), thereby providing cross-ventilation of an indirect kind; the corridor also had windows on the external wall. The internal windows had shutters, but we are not sure of the details. The Poor Law Board inspector in 1866 was not over-critical of this arrangement, for cross-ventilaiton was still a new hobby-horse for hospital reformers. A comparable arrangement of parallel wards with a common wall pierced by windows appears at the London Fever Hospital of 1848 and in the new Halford Wing of the Devon and Exeter Hospital built in 1854.

The acceptability of this internal ventilation provides a background to the roughly contemporary alterations at the Military Hospital at Devonport. This hospital was built as a series of pavilions in 1797, each floor of each pavilion consisting of two wards side by side separated by a corridor containing a staircase. The hospital was criticised in the 1861 report on military hospitals, and was subsequently altered. The stairs were removed and windows inserted in the walls between the corridor and the wards. Presumably there are a few other hospitals with wards ventilated through corridors, but they are unlikely to date from after the 1860s.

Bristowe & Holmes

Appendix 15 of the 6th Report of the Medical Officer of the Privy Council for 1863 is titled Report by Dr John Syer Bristowe and Mr Timothy Holmes on the Hospitals of the United Kingdom. This report records the reactions of the authors to visits paid by one or both of them to what they believed to be all of the major hospitals in the Kingdom; it has a supplement of brief critical descriptions of 81 hospitals in England, and some sort of plan is published for 25 of them. The Report is Parliamentary Papers 1864 vol. XXVIII; Bristowe and Holmes’ appendix begins on p.467 as renumbered for the Blue Books (463 of the original pagination), and the supplement begins on p.575  (571 original pagination). The following list uses the titles for the descriptions of the hospitals, and the amended pagination. English hospitals were divided into metropolitan, provincial and rural; Scotland and Ireland were dealt with on pages 692 to 726.

ENGLAND
Metropolitan Hospitals
575 St Bartholomew’s Hospital, plan of block C
577 The Charing Cross Hospital, plan of front range
579 St George’s Hospital, plan of 1st floor
582 Guy’s Hospital
585 King’s College Hospital, plan of 1st floor
589 London Hospital
591 St Mary’s Hospital, plan of ground floor
594 Middlesex Hospital
596 St Thomas’s Hospital, plans of North Wing and first floor
599 University College Hospital
600 Westminster Hospital, plan of second floor
602 Royal Free Hospital

English Provincial Hospitals
605 Birmingham General Hospital
607 Birmingham Queen’s Hospital
608 Bristol General Hospital, plan of second floor
610 Bristol Royal Infirmary, plan of 1st floor
611 Hull General Infirmary
613 Leeds General Infirmary, plan of G floor
616 Liverpool Southern Hospital
619 Liverpool Northern Hospital
621 Manchester Royal Infirmary, plan of 1st floor
623 Newcastle Royal Infirmary
624 Sheffield Infirmary, plan of attic storey

English Rural Hospitals
626 Barnstaple Infirmary
626 Bath United Hospital
628 Bedford Infirmary
629 Bradford Infirmary
630 Sussex County Hospital {Brighton}
632 Suffolk General Hospital at Bury St Edmunds, plan of ground floor of old hospital and new hospital
634 Addenbrooke’s Hospital at Cambridge, plan of ground floor
636 Kent and Canterbury Hospital, plan of ground floor
638 Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle, plan of ground floor
640 St Bartholomew’s Hospital, Chatham, outline plan of ward
641 Cheltenham Hospital
642 Chester Infirmary
643 Chichester Infirmary
644 Essex and Colchester General Hospital
646 Derbyshire General Infirmary, plan of attic {first} floor, fever house
648 Devonport Hospital {Royal Albert}
649 Dover Hospital
649 Devon and Exeter Hospital
652 Gloucester Infirmary
653 Hereford Infirmary
655 Huddersfield Infirmary
656 Ipswich and East Suffolk Hospital
657 Lancaster House of Recovery
659 Leicester Infirmary and Fever House, plan of ground floor
661 Lincoln Hospital
662 West Kent General Hospital, Maidstone
663 Northampton Hospital
664 Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, ground floor plan
667 Nottingham General Hospital
669 Radcliffe Infirmary at Oxford, plan of ground floor
672 South Devon Hospital, Plymouth
674 Royal Portsmouth, Portsea and Gosport Hospital
675 Berkshire County Hospital at Reading, plan of 1st floor
677 Salisbury Infirmary
678 Salop Infirmary
680 Royal South Hants Infirmary, Southampton
681 Stafford General Infirmary
682 Taunton and Somerset Hospital
684 Whitehaven Hospital
685 Hants County Hospital, Winchester, plan of ground floor
688 South Staffordshire General Hospital, Wolverhampton
689 Worcester Infirmary, plan of ground floor
691 York County Hospital

Special Hospitals
726 Hospital for Sick Children in Great Ormond Street
728 Dreadnought Hospital Ship
729 Haslar hospital, block plan
731 Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley
731 Hospital for consumption and Diseases of the Chest {Brompton}
732 London Fever Hospital, plan of ground floor
737 Newcastle Fever Hospital
737 Small Pox Hospital {Highgate Hill}
739 York Road Lying-in Hospital {London}
740 Liverpool Lying-in Hospital
740 Margate Sea-Bathing Infirmary
741 Southport Convalescent Hospital

More Baths

The Hospitals Investigator No.4 drew attention to how many lunatics it was possible to get into one change of bath water. It now emerges that lunatics were not the only victims of this economy. At the Royal Berkshire Hospital at Reading in 1870 they managed to wash, if that is the correct word, at least eight patients in one change of water. The full number is not known, because it was only the eighth patient who complained. The reason appears to be that it took ten minutes to fill the bath and another ten minutes to empty it again, and the hospital porter did not have time to do this.

geograph-830153-by-Andrew-SmithRoyal Berkshire Hospital, Reading (© Copyright Andrew Smith and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence). Money spent on this fine stone front with its ionic portico and coat of arms in the pediment, may have lead to economies elsewhere, notably bath water.

Suppliers of “Temporary” Hospitals

Several firms are now known to have provided wood and iron hospital buildings, especially in the early years of he twentieth century, although their hospitals and chalets are hard to find or identify. So far the list includes the following:

Humphrey’s of Knightsbridge, (a catalogue of 1900 was located by the York office team). Several of their hospitals survive.
Boulton and Paul of Norwich, who were still in business (in 1992) selling garden shelters that are almost indistinguishable from sanatorium chalets. Early chalets have been found as far away as Plymouth. {The company was taken over in 1997}
Portable Building Company of Manchester, who provided a sanatorium for the Nottingham Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis in about 1900.
Hygienic Constructions and Portable Buildings Ltd. who supplied the Homerton College Sanatorium in 1913. This weatherboarded building still (1992) stands.
Wire Wove Roofing Company of London made tuberculosis chalets.
G. W. Beattie of Putney advertised their New Venetian Shelter, for tuberculous patients, in 1913.
Kenman and Sons of Dublin, who sold tuberculosis chalets in 1913.

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Not a hospital, but a temporary building that reflected the popularity of open-air living, this is taken from the rather wonderful Broadland memories blog