Nottingham Hospitals History


Princess Helena Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein

Opening of the New Women’s Hospital

Nottingham Guardian 4 November 1929

The new Nottingham Hospital for Women, which has been erected in Peel Street will be opened today by Her Highness Princess Helena Victoria, is the culmination of years of work on the small but enthusiastic band of men and women, who have been associated with the management of the Castle Gate and Samaritan Hospitals for Women.

In the opening of the new hospital these two organisations will again be reunited. Originally, they were one, but about 40 years ago a division took place, and was not until comparatively recently that a re-amalgamation was affected. From that date though united, he organisations have carried out their separate existences in the continuation of the two hospitals until a new and up-to-date place could be erected.

The day has now arrived when the two forces can come together under one roof, and as soon as the furnishing of the new building is completed – a task which will not occupy many weeks – the hospitals on Castle Gate and Raleigh Street and the outpatients’ department in Broad Street will be closed.


A unique feature of the new hospital is that it opens its doors entirely free from dept. This was aim of the committee of which Mr H. W. Roberts was chairman from the start. A building fund was opened some years ago with donations amounting to £54, and from this small beginning the committee has worked unceasingly. The difficult years put a check upon the project, and it was not until after the war that the broken threads of the movement could be taken up again. The public made a liberal response, and in 1922 a sum of £7,346 had been raised for the building fund. When it is stated that the fund stands at £37,000 it will readily be appreciated how generous the response has been.


This sum has been sufficient to build and equip what is regarded as one of the best hospitals for women in the country, It has been planned on ideal lines, and expense on the essentials for the good conduct of the management of the institution has not been spared.

The Castle Gate Hospital for Women is the older of the two existing women’s hospitals having been opened in 1875 with two beds. The Samaritan Hospital was opened ten years later and the two ran separately but on more or less the same lines as each other until the amalgamation was affected in January 1924 at which the Castle Gate Hospital had 29 beds and the Samaritan Hospital had 14.

The wisdom of the two organisations to be amalgamated was warmly endorsed by the subscribers of the two organisations. The Duchess of Newcastle, Mr. H. W, Roberts (Chairman of the Castle Gate Institution) Mr. C. N. Bass (representing the Samaritan Hospital) were responsible for the early negotiations for the amalgamation, and later Mrs. E. L. Manning, during her year as Mayoress, pressed forward the project with great energy. But it was Mr. Roberts Mr. Bass that the chief honour of the initiation of the movement must be given. They had many private conversations on the matter before it came to the committee stage, and when they worked out the details, they brought the matter before their respective organisations.

The principle was unanimously approved, and when the actual details came to be considered the Duchess of Newcastle, as president of the Castle Gate Hospital, proved herself not only a wise councillor but a capable leader of all the deliberations.

The Duchess displayed a keen interest in the undertaking, and when the amalgamation had been affected threw her energies wholeheartedly into the new hospital scheme.


The foundation stone of the hospital was laid on the 31st May 1928. An invitation was extended to the Duchess of York to perform the ceremony, but was unable to accept it, the committee asked the Duchess of Newcastle (then the president) to officiate.

The serious illness of the (7th) Duke of Newcastle so soon followed by his death made it impossible for her Grace to fulfil the engagement. The Duchess of Portland kindly consented to act for the president.

Though the hospital as it now stands provides accommodation for 100 beds it does not represent the completion of the whole scheme. It is intended to build another wing – the work on which will be started in 18 months’ time – and to alter Southfield House, which will be used as a Nurses’ Home, at a cost of £12,000.

The hospital under the guidance of the newly appointed matron (Miss Fairbairn of Tamworth) will be conducted on similar lines to the old hospitals, on which it is known as the “Provident Plan.” This plan is explained in one of the hospital rules which says:

The object of the hospital shall be treatment of women, who, whilst unable to incur large expenses, are yet able to pay something towards their maintenance.”

The charge is actually £1 1s per week, but there have been innumerable cases where a fee has not been paid at all because of the limited means of the patient.

Under the provident system which has been successfully tried for 50 years, women of the city and county are able to get the best treatment at minimal cost.

Another point about the building is that not a single penny has been expended on its construction or equipment. A special building fund provided all the money required, and when the hospital opens it will have a capital fund amounting to £23,000.


In many respects the site of the new building is ideal. The site is secluded, yet central, with the great open space of the Arboretum on the north-west, with no heavy traffic to disturb the patients.

The north-west corner is occupied, at present by Southfield House, a private nursing home, which will become the nurses’ home to provide accommodation for 30 nurses with sitting-rooms, reading and writing rooms. The house lends itself admirably to this purpose, as with internal alteration only, sufficient accommodation for nurses obtained for the present building scheme of 60 beds, and, by additions on the north-west, further accommodation can be secured when the hospital is extended.

Position of the house regulated to a great extent the planning of the hospital. The site has a fall of about 20 feet from the north to the south corner, and advantage of the natural fall has taken to place the outpatients’ department on the lower portion. By this means, a separate entrance is obtained for the outpatients at a lower level on Peel Street, and a further advantage is gained in raising the ward floors well above ground.

The present building scheme provides accommodation for 60 beds on two floors, there being 12-bed wards, two 10 bed wards, and eight private wards for 16 patients. The 12 bed wards have a sunny balcony with a south-west prospect. Future extensions to the hospital are indicated on the plans on the north-west of the site, and will give a further accommodation for 40 beds, making a total of 100 beds.


The operating theatre with its appurtenances is placed centrally and is approached on the main corridor on the first floor above the Board Room, so as to get the benefit of top northern light. There is a small minor operating theatre on the lower ground floor, connected with the out-patients’ department. The kitchen department is placed on the north-east side of the main corridor with the maids’ bedrooms over. The nurses’ dining room is next to the kitchen for convenient service and is carefully arranged so as to be approached from the hospital corridor.

The elevators are designed in simple character with brickworks facings of a slightly broken colour. The entrance hall is paved in terrazzo, and the wall lined with jointless “Biancola” to a height of 7ft. in a warm colour, divided into panels with light green bands.

The architects were Messrs Bromley, Cartwright and Wharmsley, but it should be stated that the plans were drawn up during the partnership of Bromley and Watkins. The general contractors were Messrs Gilbert and Hall, Wharf Road, Castle Boulevard, Nottingham. A large number of sub-contractors were engaged, including the following, W. J. Furse and Co. Ltd., Traffic Street, Nottingham, who were responsible for the electrical installation. Messrs McCarthy and Sons Ltd., Bulwell Lime Works, Bulwell, who supplied the Bulwell Stone for the walls; Goodacre Glover and Butler, Ltd of London Road, Nottingham who executed ornamental ironwork on the stairs and supplied the balcony entrance gates; E. Somerfield and Sons, West Bridgford, asphalting roads and paths (the firm that executed the work at Harlow Wood Hospital and in the construction of University Boulevard); Rosser and Russell Ltd., 21 Aire Street, Leeds, heating and insulation; J. Easton and Sons, Nottingham, French polishing; H. Hilton, West Bridgford, Nottingham, plumbing and glazing , and A. Witherow and Co., Standhill Road, Nottingham, plastering.