• Welcome to this forum Guest. We are a worldwide group with a common interest in Birmingham and its history. While here, please follow a few simple rules. We ask that you respect other members, thank those who have helped you and please keep your contributions on-topic with the thread.

    We do hope you enjoy your visit. BHF Admin Team

Birmingham Hospital - Peter Walker..

postie

The buck stops here
Staff member
In pre-reformation days, the care of the sick had been handled by the monasteries and convents, and some institutions such as St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, survived the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII. In Birmingham the General Hospital was our first dedicated hospital, although an infirmary was attached to the Birmingham Workhouse from 1766.
The story of the General starts in 1765 when a local public-spirited physician, Dr John Ash, called a meeting to consider forming a General Hospital in the town. As a result, £2000 was soon collected, and subscriptions of £600 a year were promised. A site on the corner of Summer Lane and Lower Loveday Street (later occupied by the power station) was acquired for under £1000, and building work commenced, but funds were soon exhausted. In 1768 a music festival was held, which raised £300. It is sometimes said that spare money was short because people had invested in building canals in the vicinity, but money was soon found for rebuilding the burned-out Birmingham Theatre at that time. So the building stood an empty shell from 1769 to 1776, and Taylor and Lloyd's Bank were owed nearly £3000. Something had to be done - meetings were arranged, house-to-house collections were made and a second music festival was held in 1779. The building was finished, and finally opened at Michaelmas that year. According to William Hutton, whose 'History of Birmingham' was published soon after, in the first nine months of activity, 529 patients were admitted, of which 303 were cured, 93 relieved, 112 remained on the books, five died, and one was dismissed as incurable. In 1790 two new wings were built and in 1792 thirty more beds were endowed by Samuel Galton.
The music festivals
Apart from private subscriptions, the funding for the hospital relied in the triennial music festivals, which were to remain one of Birmingham's social institutions for a century. At first the events raised a few hundred pounds, but by 1802 the income for the hospital exceeded £2000. Between 1802 and 1829 a total of £40 257 was raised. But the events were not only musical - there were banquets and balls, and special church services. In 1811, the dates of the festival had to be changed at short notice because the President, the Earl of Bradford, had an appointment at Oswestry races.
In the 1820s the hospital initiated the proposal to build a new town hall, because St Philip's was getting too small for its ever grander music festivals. The church was used for the last time in 1829, and it was not until the new Town Hall was almost finished in 1834 that the next festival was held in that location. So anxious was the Board of the hospital to have a new venue that they not only contributed £1200 to the building costs, but also raised the money to provide the organ, which remained the property of the General Hospital until it was finally bought out by the city in 1922! In their new home the Birmingham music festivals were a major part of Britain's musical life, with international performers taking part. The 'Elijah' was first performed here in 1846, under the baton of Mendelssohn, who had been a popular figure at the festivals until his untimely death in 1849 at the age of 38.
Victorian times
As Birmingham grew in size, the hospital could not grow fast enough. By 1842 it had 222 beds, and from 1857 fetes were held at Aston Hall, which raised funds for two more wings. Another important source of revenue was the Hospital Saturday Fund, initiated by Dr Miller, Rector of St Martin's Church, which brought in about £5000 every three years.
Meanwhile the Queens Hospital and medical school in Broad Street had opened in 1840, again as a result of public subscription and donations. Other specialist hospitals opened - the Orthopaedic Hospital in Great Charles Street (1817), the Eye Hospital (1824), a Lying-in Hospital (1842), the Ear and Throat Hospital (1844), the Dental Hospital (1857), the Children's Hospital (1862). and the Women's Hospital (1871). Together Birmingham's hospitals treated over 46 000 patients (including 3800 in-patients) per annum in the 1860s.
By the end of the 19th century, conditions at the old General Hospitals must have been cramped, and it was decided to build new premises on the present site, then a slum-clearance area at the corner of Steelhouse Lane and Loveday Street. A competition was held for the design of the new Birmingham General Hospital in 1892, which was won by William Hensman. Often known as the Terracotta Palace, this impressive building in rich red brick and terracotta was opened in 1897, in a style echoing that of the Victoria Law Courts, which had just been built opposite. The wealthy philanthropist Louisa Ann Ryland contributed £200 000 to its construction.
The 20th century
After the First World War it was clear that great extensions were needed at both the General and the Queen's Hospitals, and both hospitals prepared building schemes, and a joint committee was set up in 1925 with support from the city council to build a new hospital building in the suburbs, and in 1927 an executive board for the building of the hospitals' centre was formed. Cadbury Brothers bought and presented the site, and an appeal for funds was made in 1930. Building began in 1933 and thus the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, was opened in 1938.
The National Health Service and National Insurance Acts of 1946 and the National Assistance Act of 1948 revolutionised health provision. In Birmingham the principal voluntary hospitals became the United Birmingham Hospitals, and the remainder, including the former poor law hospitals, the maternity hospitals, mental hospitals and sanatoria became the responsibility of the Birmingham Regional Hospital Board and were for the purposes of administration grouped together under management committees.
A new life
Like all historic hospitals the Birmingham General was subjected to dramatic growth and change, most spectacularly since the 1950s. In response to ever-changing medical, social and financial pressures the building design was assaulted and insulted in a succession of inappropriate and downright unpleasant alterations, additions and demolitions. The ornate entrance front was destroyed and replaced by a characterless addition while an administrative block was build on the frontage effectively smothering the appearance and amenity of the original design. On the other three sides of the complex many ad hoc additions have been built from the fifties onward none respectful of, or in sympathy with, the Victorian original, nor having notable design qualities of their own. It was being neglected to death and its closure seemed imminent.
A strategic review was carried out by the Regional Health Authority in 1992/93, which recommended the closure of the Birmingham General. This was a famous, highly admired building of great architectural significance and value which had already survived previous attempts to close it, thanks to widespread public resistance. It so happened that a new home was being sought for the Birmingham Children's Hospital, and the replacement of the children's hospital services at the 'General' site became the preferred option for meeting the Region's strategic design. In a remarkably quick programme procurement was set in train and work started on site in May 1996. The £30m facility is a combination of new-build and refurbishment, restoring to new and active life a much-loved city centre institution. A distinguished building was saved from a final act of vandalism.

Sources:
Hutton, William: An History of Birmingham, Pearson and Rollason, 1783, reprinted EP Publishing, 1976
Kelly, Wm & Co: Post Office Directory of Birmingham with Staffordshire and Worcestershire, 1849, copied on CD by Midlands Historical Data, 2003
White, William: White's Directory of Birmingham . . . . the Hardware District, 1873, copied on CD by Midlands Historical Data, 2003
Kelly, Wm & Co: Kelly's Directory of Birmingham with its Suburbs and Smethwick, 1943,
 

Old Boy

master brummie
In pre-reformation days, the care of the sick had been handled by the monasteries and convents, and some institutions such as St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, survived the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII. In Birmingham the General Hospital was our first dedicated hospital, although an infirmary was attached to the Birmingham Workhouse from 1766.
The story of the General starts in 1765 when a local public-spirited physician, Dr John Ash, called a meeting to consider forming a General Hospital in the town. As a result, £2000 was soon collected, and subscriptions of £600 a year were promised. A site on the corner of Summer Lane and Lower Loveday Street (later occupied by the power station) was acquired for under £1000, and building work commenced, but funds were soon exhausted. In 1768 a music festival was held, which raised £300. It is sometimes said that spare money was short because people had invested in building canals in the vicinity, but money was soon found for rebuilding the burned-out Birmingham Theatre at that time. So the building stood an empty shell from 1769 to 1776, and Taylor and Lloyd's Bank were owed nearly £3000. Something had to be done - meetings were arranged, house-to-house collections were made and a second music festival was held in 1779. The building was finished, and finally opened at Michaelmas that year. According to William Hutton, whose 'History of Birmingham' was published soon after, in the first nine months of activity, 529 patients were admitted, of which 303 were cured, 93 relieved, 112 remained on the books, five died, and one was dismissed as incurable. In 1790 two new wings were built and in 1792 thirty more beds were endowed by Samuel Galton.
The music festivals
Apart from private subscriptions, the funding for the hospital relied in the triennial music festivals, which were to remain one of Birmingham's social institutions for a century. At first the events raised a few hundred pounds, but by 1802 the income for the hospital exceeded £2000. Between 1802 and 1829 a total of £40 257 was raised. But the events were not only musical - there were banquets and balls, and special church services. In 1811, the dates of the festival had to be changed at short notice because the President, the Earl of Bradford, had an appointment at Oswestry races.
In the 1820s the hospital initiated the proposal to build a new town hall, because St Philip's was getting too small for its ever grander music festivals. The church was used for the last time in 1829, and it was not until the new Town Hall was almost finished in 1834 that the next festival was held in that location. So anxious was the Board of the hospital to have a new venue that they not only contributed £1200 to the building costs, but also raised the money to provide the organ, which remained the property of the General Hospital until it was finally bought out by the city in 1922! In their new home the Birmingham music festivals were a major part of Britain's musical life, with international performers taking part. The 'Elijah' was first performed here in 1846, under the baton of Mendelssohn, who had been a popular figure at the festivals until his untimely death in 1849 at the age of 38.
Victorian times
As Birmingham grew in size, the hospital could not grow fast enough. By 1842 it had 222 beds, and from 1857 fetes were held at Aston Hall, which raised funds for two more wings. Another important source of revenue was the Hospital Saturday Fund, initiated by Dr Miller, Rector of St Martin's Church, which brought in about £5000 every three years.
Meanwhile the Queens Hospital and medical school in Broad Street had opened in 1840, again as a result of public subscription and donations. Other specialist hospitals opened - the Orthopaedic Hospital in Great Charles Street (1817), the Eye Hospital (1824), a Lying-in Hospital (1842), the Ear and Throat Hospital (1844), the Dental Hospital (1857), the Children's Hospital (1862). and the Women's Hospital (1871). Together Birmingham's hospitals treated over 46 000 patients (including 3800 in-patients) per annum in the 1860s.
By the end of the 19th century, conditions at the old General Hospitals must have been cramped, and it was decided to build new premises on the present site, then a slum-clearance area at the corner of Steelhouse Lane and Loveday Street. A competition was held for the design of the new Birmingham General Hospital in 1892, which was won by William Hensman. Often known as the Terracotta Palace, this impressive building in rich red brick and terracotta was opened in 1897, in a style echoing that of the Victoria Law Courts, which had just been built opposite. The wealthy philanthropist Louisa Ann Ryland contributed £200 000 to its construction.
The 20th century
After the First World War it was clear that great extensions were needed at both the General and the Queen's Hospitals, and both hospitals prepared building schemes, and a joint committee was set up in 1925 with support from the city council to build a new hospital building in the suburbs, and in 1927 an executive board for the building of the hospitals' centre was formed. Cadbury Brothers bought and presented the site, and an appeal for funds was made in 1930. Building began in 1933 and thus the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, was opened in 1938.
The National Health Service and National Insurance Acts of 1946 and the National Assistance Act of 1948 revolutionised health provision. In Birmingham the principal voluntary hospitals became the United Birmingham Hospitals, and the remainder, including the former poor law hospitals, the maternity hospitals, mental hospitals and sanatoria became the responsibility of the Birmingham Regional Hospital Board and were for the purposes of administration grouped together under management committees.
A new life
Like all historic hospitals the Birmingham General was subjected to dramatic growth and change, most spectacularly since the 1950s. In response to ever-changing medical, social and financial pressures the building design was assaulted and insulted in a succession of inappropriate and downright unpleasant alterations, additions and demolitions. The ornate entrance front was destroyed and replaced by a characterless addition while an administrative block was build on the frontage effectively smothering the appearance and amenity of the original design. On the other three sides of the complex many ad hoc additions have been built from the fifties onward none respectful of, or in sympathy with, the Victorian original, nor having notable design qualities of their own. It was being neglected to death and its closure seemed imminent.
A strategic review was carried out by the Regional Health Authority in 1992/93, which recommended the closure of the Birmingham General. This was a famous, highly admired building of great architectural significance and value which had already survived previous attempts to close it, thanks to widespread public resistance. It so happened that a new home was being sought for the Birmingham Children's Hospital, and the replacement of the children's hospital services at the 'General' site became the preferred option for meeting the Region's strategic design. In a remarkably quick programme procurement was set in train and work started on site in May 1996. The £30m facility is a combination of new-build and refurbishment, restoring to new and active life a much-loved city centre institution. A distinguished building was saved from a final act of vandalism.

Sources:
Hutton, William: An History of Birmingham, Pearson and Rollason, 1783, reprinted EP Publishing, 1976
Kelly, Wm & Co: Post Office Directory of Birmingham with Staffordshire and Worcestershire, 1849, copied on CD by Midlands Historical Data, 2003
White, William: White's Directory of Birmingham . . . . the Hardware District, 1873, copied on CD by Midlands Historical Data, 2003
Kelly, Wm & Co: Kelly's Directory of Birmingham with its Suburbs and Smethwick, 1943,
Hi Jim (Postie)
Thank you for such a wonderful and well researched history of The General Hospital. It continues, of course, as part of the history of The Childrens Hospital. I have fond memories of my time as a sergeant at Steelhouse Lane Police Station in the 1960s when we had daily contact with the hospital and, of course, its wonderful staff.
Chris Beresford (Old Boy)
 
S

Stitcher

Guest
Victorian times at Birmingham Childrens Hospital..jpg
This picture is from the Victorian era
 
Last edited by a moderator:
S

Stitcher

Guest
another pic taken during the victorian era at Birmingham Childrens Hospital.jpg
This one is also from Victorian times.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
S

Stitcher

Guest
_childrenshospital.jpg
This Is obviously when the Children's Hospital was in Ladywood, my sister was admitted to this hospital with rheumatoid Arthritis when she was 2 years old.
 
S

Stitcher

Guest
Queen Elizabeth Hospital.jpg
I have no information whatsoever with this photo other than the words "Queen Elizabeth Hospital".
 

poppy wendy

New Member
From the first post by postie..."Cadbury Brothers bought and presented the site, and an appeal for funds was made in 1930. Building began in 1933 and thus the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, was opened in 1938."
my great aunt Alice Burgoyne was the very first patient on the wards of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital I have the newspaper article when Queen Elizabeth visited my aunt on the ward in 1938
 
Top