The Historical Roots of the Nottingham City Hospital

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A chronology of significant dates is the best way of describing the Nottingham City Hospitals historical routes. Beginning in 1597 as an Act of Parliament to enable the erection of work houses for the poor, continuing through, what historians agree is the Welfare States historical roots, The Poor Law Act of 1601 to be followed by the Enclosure of Basford in 1797, which gave birth to the City Hospital campus, and two of the most destructive wars of the 20th century ending in 1948 with the inception of the National Health Service: this is the history of The Nottingham City Hospital.


The City Hospital we know today began life as a workhouse almost in the centre of Nottingham on York Street, which was then outside the built-up area of the town. First built in 1729 and extended in 1800; seeing through a number of Poor Law amendments, the most significant amendment being in 1834 when supplementary relief was abolished and the workhouse test was revived, meaning only those who entered a workhouse qualified for relief.


Demolished in 1895 to make way for the building of the London extension to the Manchester Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, later renamed the Great Central Railway, and after an eight year period of temporary accommodation was eventually reopened on the north side of the City on Wednesday 18th March, 1903 as the Bagthorpe Workhouse and Infirmary


After the 1909 Royal Commission into the Poor Law, the Bagthorpe Workhouse and Infirmary was renamed the Bagthorpe Institute and Infirmary. In 1930 after the demise of local Boards of Guardians, following the 1929 Local Government Act, the Bagthorpe Institute and Infirmary was renamed the ‘City Infirmary’ only to be followed five years later in 1934, after the Public Health Act, with a further renaming to the now familiar, ‘Nottingham City Hospital.’


Although the Nottingham City Hospital, over the years, has been greatly extended, which can be viewed on the accompanying  ‘Facebook and Flickr’ web pages, the chronology of significant dates ends with the inception on 5 July, 1948 of the National Health Service.


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1597: An Act of Parliament was passed to enable the erection of workhouses for the poor.


1601: The Poor Law (the 43rd Elizabeth and Parliament). This is to provide relief for the poor and to appoint overseers.


1729 - 27th of June: A lease of 999 years was granted by Nottingham Corporation to the parish of St Mary's at an annual rate of one shilling (5p) for land to erect a workhouse at the junction of York Street and Mansfield Road (then outside the built-up area of the town).


1797: The Enclosure Commissioners of Basford allot to the Vicar of Basford, the Rev Robert Stanser, 131 acres of land at Bagthorpe between Hucknall Road and Arnold Road, whilst the Earl of Chesterfield, the Ranger of Thorneywood, gains 40 acres of land between Edwards Lane and Sunrise Hill


The Enclosure Map of Basford: Lot 163 granted to the Vicar of Basford

1808: The workhouse on York Street was by this time in a state of disrepair and too small for the much increased population of Nottingham. A proposal was made by the corporation for a new building to be erected upon land to be made available at a low cost on Dog-Kennel Hill (Mansfield Road) with a site of about 6,240 square yards (about four times the area on York Street). The parishioners of St Mary's agreed to extend and improve the existing building, this being carried out under the architect and builder Mr Silverwood at a cost of £5,000.


1834: The Poor Law was amended. This abolished supplementary relief and revived the workhouse test – only those who entered a workhouse qualified for relief.


1871 – 1872: The construction of the Garden Hospital. This hospital was built to accommodate smallpox patients and was located at the bottom of Woodborough Road and at the corner of Huntingdon Street, Nottingham. According to official records, there were 500 recorded cases of smallpox in those two years.



1884: January, 126 acres of land was purchased from the Vicar of Basford by the Nottingham Corporation for £25,475.


1888/92: The Bagthorpe Isolation Hospital (Heathfield Hospital) was opened on 15 July 1892 by the Mayor of Nottingham. In attendance was Miss Dickinson, the hospitals first Matron and Dr Wynne, the Assistant Medical Officer.


1893: Parliament gives approval for the London extension to the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway  The Great Central Railway.


1896: 31st March - 64 acres of vacant land at Bagthorpe was purchased to build the new workhouse infirmary.


1903: Wednesday 18th March, The official opening of the Bagthorpe Workhouse and Infirmary.


1909: the word workhouse is dropped following a Royal Commission into the Poor Law. So the Bagthorpe Workhouse and Infirmary becomes the Institute and Infirmary


1914/18 War: A war that on the Western front in France was to see 2,690,054 men become battle casualties and a further 3,528,496 succumbed to sickness and death. It was also during those four years the Bagthorpe Infirmary became a Military Hospital


1919 – 1920: The first Annual Report of the Ministry of Health


1929: The City Hospital School of Nursing opens in one large class room in Nurses Home One


1929: 27th March, The Local Government Act: It was this act of Parliament tcalls for the ending of the Poor law and the abolition of local Boards of Guardians.


1930: Purpose built children's wards and an additional theatre is opened. The Nottingham Board of Guardians is abolished and replaced by the Local Assistance Committee. The old workhouse building known as the Institute is re-named Valebrook Lodge and the Infirmary is renamed the City Infirmary.


1934: The Public Health Act It was a consequence of this act that from 1 April 1935 the City Infirmary was “appropriated and became a municipal  General Hospital and was at last severed from the Poor Law. It was also in this year the City Infirmary was renamed the “City Hospital.” From that day onwards the Health Committee had complete responsibility for the hospitals running. The services of the hospital were no longer limited to the poor and those who were able paid the whole or part of the cost of  their treatment, according to their means. It became the policy of the committee as far as possible to transfer into the institution aged people requiring ordinary care and attention but not needing actual hospital treatment; this left the hospital beds available for those who are actually ill and need of active medical and surgical aid.


1939/45 War: The City Hospital was once again used as a military hospital, only this time German prisoners of war were treated as well.


1942: Sir William Beveridge publishes a report outlining the creation of a modern Welfare State and the National Health Service.


1944: February, It was in this year the government produced a White Paper on the subject of forming a National Health Service. In the first paragraph in the introduction it say’s


1946: March, The National Health Service Bill: It was in this month the National Health Service Bill was read and debated in both Houses of Parliament.


1948: 5 July, The inception of the National Health Service. Under the new administrative system the City Hospital becomes part of the Nottingham No.2 Hospital Management Committee.

1950’s: The Cold War - the threat of nuclear attack. Under government guidelines all hospitals throughout the UK were required to take necessary steps in the process of Civil Defence.

1950: Introduction of a compulsory pre-registration year for newly qualified doctors greatly eases the problem of finding suitable houses physicians and house surgeons.

1951: The hospitals Occupational Therapy is opened.

1954: The Duchess of Gloucester opens the new twin operating theatre. The City Hospital League of Friends is formed.

1955: The hospital’s first plastic surgeon Mr. David Wynn Williams is appointed.

1957: A major scheme begins to modernise the hospitals main wards.

1958: The new out patients department is opened.

1959: The new X-ray Department is opened

1963: The pathology is reorganised and the microbiology service is taken over by Dr. E. R. Mitchell, Director of the Public Laboratory Service.

1965: Group Captain Douglas Bader opens the Nottingham School of Physiotherapy. A new hospital roadway leading to Edwards Lane is opened.

1967: The first kidney dialysis machine is presented to the hospital.

1969: Sherwood Day Hospital and the artificial limb appliance centre - now known as the Mobility Centre - opened.

1970: The City Hospital is awarded teaching hospital status. Lady Hamilton opens the new physiotherapy department and the local authority begins to vacate the former ‘workhouse’ wards in the old Sherwood Hospital.

1972: The Post Graduate Medical Centre is opened. The coronary care unit opens and the Hospital management Committee votes in favour of dropping the name Sherwood from the City Hospital title.

1973: Six more operating theatres open and the central sterile supplies department is established. Three more out patient clinics open to add to the three already in existence.

1974: A new 168-bed maternity hospital is officially opened. Its facilities include a 46-cot special care baby unit. The first kidney transplant operation is performed at the City Hospital; the urology department is strengthened by the appointment of two consultants and the staff Leisure centre opens. As part of a major reorganisation of the NHS, the City Hospital comes under the North Nottingham (Teaching) District.

1975: The hospital’s first renal unit is established in the former maternity unit.

1976: The Sandfield children’s unit is opened.

1977: A £50,000 bequest - the largest gift in the hospital’s history - gives a flying start to the £1m CARE Appeal to fund a medical research centre.

1979: The Helen Garrod breast screening unit is opened.

1980: The new H Block is opened. It incorporates children’s services, a dedicated burns unit, plastic surgery, renal dialysis and the department of clinical genetics. In the same year, Hayward House, a specialist palliative care unit is opened.

1981: Linden Lodge, a 26- bed for younger chronically ill patients, is opened.

The Garden Hospital, so call because it was adjacent to the gardens of the adjoining Workhouse

1986: The Duchess of Gloucester opens the Medical Research Centre.

1988: Princess Margaret visits the new occupational therapy department and officially opens a CT body scanner. A new outpatient reception area is opened and a portable breast screening unit is installed.

The Duchess officially opens the Medical Research Centre

Princess Margaret officially opening the CT Scanner Unit

1998: Phase four of the new health care of the elderly wards is opened.

1990: A purpose-built genito-urinary medicine unit is opened, following the transfer of the special clinic from the Nottingham General Hospital. The refurbished children’s outpatients department is opened - thanks to generous backing from the City Hospital league of Friends.

The purpose-built Genito-Urinary Medicine Unit

1991: After an extensive refurbishment, Nightingale Two ward is re-opened to treat patients with infectious diseases.

1992: The hospital becomes an NHS Trust. A lithotriptor machine for shattering kidney stones without the need for an operation is installed - thanks to a successful £500,000 public appeal. The Duke of Kent officially opens the department of clinical radiology and medical physics.

1993: The renal/oncology building is commissioned. The project - one of the largest joint capital developments ever commissioned by the Regional health Authority - enables cancer services to be transferred from the Nottingham General Hospital and the acute renal wards to be relocated alongside the dialysis unit in the H Block.

1994: The new £10m maternity unit is opened to replace the asbestos-clad unit built in the early 1970s. The new unit includes a Patients Hotel - the first in the UK. The women’s endoscopy unit and the new day surgery unit is opened.

New Maternity Unit and Patients Hotel


Endoscopy Unit


1999: The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Liam Donaldson opens the University of Nottingham’s Clinical Sciences Building on the Hospital Site.

2000: The cardiac surgery unit is opened.

2001: The new endoscopy unit is opened.

March 18, 2003: Nottingham City Hospital celebrates its 100th anniversary.

2003: Opening of  the Nottingham Breast Institute.

July 27, 2004: HRH Prince Charles officially opens the Nottingham Brest Institute

The Nottingham Breast Institute

2005: The Nottingham Urology Centre is opened.

2006: Nottingham City Hospital NHS Trust and the Queen’s Medical Centre NHS Trust merged to become the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust,. In the same year the Trent Cardiac Centre is opened and a new ‘tranquility’ garden is created, opposite the Main Outpatients Department.

September 2005, Opening of the Nottingham Urology Centre

Trent Cardiac Centre

2006: October 4th, The new £10m Haematology Centre is officially opened by BBC East Midlands Newsreader Jo Healey. In the same year cricketing legend Ian Botham opened the Adolescent and Young People’s Unit also based in the Haematology Centre.


13th October, 2006, Ian Botham opens the Adolescent and Young Peoples Unit

1995: The upper limb unit - named the Charnley Suite - is opened at the City Hospital following the closure of Harlow Wood Orthopaedic Hospital, near Mansfield. The cardiac intensive care unit is opened.


1996: The last of the old Sherwood wards are demolished to make way for a new endoscopy unit.


2007: Professor Angus Wallace performed the worlds first shoulder replacement operation on a thalidomide patient.

2008: After 105 years, the children’s wards are moved to the Queen’s Medical Centre, thus re-establishing the Nottingham Children’s Hospital.

2009: HRH The Prince of Wales visited the Nottingham City Hospital to launch a new patient menu and to chat to staff and patients about hospital food.  Also, in the same year, the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust Headquarters is relocated from the Queen’s Medical Centre to the refurbished former Nurses Home Two.

Talking to staff and patients, HRH The Prince of Wales is pictured on the City Hospitals Edward Two Ward


The refurbished former Nurses Home Two, a building originally opened in 1938, in 2009 became the Headquarters for the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

2011: The new Nottingham Radiotherapy Centre is opened by Sir Mike Richards CBE who early in his career was a registrar at the Nottingham City Hospital. Later in the same year, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall visited the site of the forthcoming Maggie’s cancer care unit, which was opened by the Nottingham fashion designer Sir Paul Smith on 2nd November 2011.

Sir Mike Richards CBE at the official opening of the Nottingham Radiotherapy  Centre in January 2011

The Nottingham Radiotherapy Centre

Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre

2006: Haematology Unit officially opened by BBC East Midlands Newsreader Jo Healey

The Haematology Unit

2013: The Nottingham City Hospital 110th Anniversary. In the same year after a successful fund raising appeal that raised 6.6 million pounds, work commenced on the building of the new 16 bed Wolfson Cystic Fibrosis Centre..


Artists impression of the Wolfson Cystic Fibrosis Centre


Work begins on the construction of the new Cystic Fibrosis Centre; to be build adjacent to the Nottingham Radio Therapy Centre


Work in Progress, 10 August, 2013

Work Completed, 13 April 2014