As the Fleetwood Trust looks to the future of the Town’s hospital as a vibrant community hub, the building is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year on 11th May. To mark the Centenary in 1995, a souvenir booklet was produced providing information on the early years ...
The very first facility, Fleetwood Cottage Hospital opened earlier, in October 1891 using a house on Queens Terrace donated on a temporary basis by Fleetwood-born Mr Hugh Colin Smith, who would later become the Governor of the Bank of England.
The population was fast approaching 10,000 so a provision of just 6 beds for patients together with accommodation for staff was soon being tested. A committee of medical practitioners within the area was formed and the generous Mr Smith donated the site on Pharos Street, valued at approximately £700, together with a further £300 towards the cost of the building.
The Foundation Stone was laid by the 16th Earl of Derby in 1894 and the hospital officially opened by Colonel Foster of Hornby on the 11th May, 1895.
One of the earliest images of the hospital can be seen on the Frith website at https://bit.ly/FwdHospitalc1901Frith
In a forward-thinking move the Committee introduced a weekly contribution scheme for the Town’s workers of around 0.5% of their income so they would have access to health care. Along with donations from individuals and employers, the hospital was able to run in profit from opening until it passed to the National Health Service in 1948.
A major development in the early years was the opening of an operating theatre in 1903 described in an annual report as “furnished complete in every detail and capable of performing all surgical operations with the minimum of danger to the patient.”
This image is looking at the Pharos Street aspect of the hospital (left foreground), which we believe is c. 1920's.
An x-ray machine was installed in 1922 at a cost of £600, the Out-Patients service began in 1924 and around this time the house adjoining the property and the land to the rear on Bold Street were purchased, which allowed for subsequent expansion of the site.
During World War II, the hospital was involved in treating the injured including a number of children evacuated from the Manchester and Salford areas. Military personnel were cared for in their own hospital situated on Beach Road, Fleetwood. It was after the War that a review of the UK’s provision led to the formation of the NHS.
The years after the War are described as “quiet and efficient” in the annual reports. The number of patients grew, together with the range of services. In 1986 the hospital underwent a major change with the addition of a unit to provide a service in Old Age Psychiatry, making Fleetwood a leading centre for this branch of care.
While outpatients and other departments continue today at Fleetwood Hospital the care wards closed some years ago. Discussions are on-going and as part of a reinvigorated building perhaps the residents of Fleetwood will have first-class hospital facilities at the heart of their community, as it’s founders set out to do 125 years ago.
Our thanks to Sue and Maureen for the souvenir booklet issued on the Hospital's Centenary in 1995, the front cover is shown here. Maureen will be looking further into the story of the building on the page History of Fleetwood Hospital.