Nottingham Hospitals History ‘From Humble Beginnings’


As a local historian and Honorary Archivist to the Nottingham University Hospitals N.H.S. Trust, not only do I update this website but I am also an accomplished speaker as well. Ever since I began research into the history of Nottingham’s Hospital back in the mid-1990s, I have been asked to give illustrated talks to various interested groups and societies.

My archive is wide ranging, with not just photographs but also old medical instruments, commemorative plaques and silverware. However, to become the Honorary Archivist or the custodian of Nottingham Hospitals History was quite a different story. Originally it began, like most ideas begin, with just a sheet of A4 paper and a pen, where I began looking into the origins of the names of the wards at the Nottingham City Hospital. However, to progress to the level the archive is today involved a lot of hard work. It involved me preventing items of historical value from being thrown away by sheer determination and persuasion. As a consequence, I can now say the Nottingham University Hospitals N.H.S. Trust has an archive of material it can justly be proud of.

1782: Nottingham General Hospital

Originally I began giving illustrated talks using a slide projector; however I have since progressed to using Microsoft PowerPoint. Using PowerPoint has allowed me to show more photographs and illustrations within my archive and to be more diverse.

Presently I give talks about the history and the origins of the Nottingham City Hospital, beginning with the days of when it was a Poor Law Institute and was known as the Bagthorpe Workhouse and Infirmary. I also give talks about the history of the former Nottingham General Hospital, which also includes the former Nottingham Children’s Hospital, Forest House and the former Women’s Hospital, Peel Street. In conclusion, I end my talk by describing how all these three hospitals became part of the Queen’s Medical Centre.

I also give a comparative talk, in which I compare the history and origins of both the Nottingham City Hospital and the Nottingham General Hospital. In this talk I also show illustrations of the building of the Queens Medical Centre and to emphasise the importance of hospitals of this size.

As part of the illustrated talks that I give, I have begun to give illustrated reminiscence talks under the remit of healthcare of the elderly. When giving a presentation of this nature, I show photographs and illustrations that would be familiar to my audience, but on this occasion, although acting as the guide, I invite my audience to talk about what I show, and what is familiar to them.

1909: Bagthorpe Workhouse Master and Matron's Living Quarters

My talks last for one hour, however they do sometimes overrun. At the end of these talks I encourage my audience to ask questions or contribute their experiences about what they have seen and heard.  As this is a voluntary role for me I do charge a small fee for giving these talks.

In conclusion I have compiled this brief introduction to highlight what I do and how the archive came about, and to draw attention to the work that I do on a voluntary basis.  I enjoy sharing my passion for this subject and my interest in social history and this website has given me the opportunity to share this.

Paul R. Swift B.A. (Jnt. Hons.) Univ. Nottm.

Honorary Archivist, Nottingham University Hospitals N.H.S. Trust