Caring for the people
It is perhaps the most famous building in Hull, a place visited by tens of thousands of people every year.
This imposing and huge building dominates the skyline. Thirteen storeys high it is a place of hope, of despair, of comfort and of grief.
It is Hull Royal Infirmary.
The present infirmary replaced that which stood in Prospect Street, a building which suffered bomb damage during the war when, on March 31, 1941 a parachute mine landed nearby and demolished the Victoria Wing. Three wards were lost – a total of 157 beds.
Other parts of he building were damaged and shops owned by the hospital were wrecked.
In the blitz which was to follow in May that year a fire in the roof of the Wilson wing proved impossible to put out because no water was available, supplied having been cut off. That plus other damage put the infirmary out of action except fort two small wards for some time.
Hull’s first infirmary was opened in 1782 on a site on the north side of George Street. The land was rented from the Dock Company which had bought the site from John Grimston in 1775.
Speculative building was carried out and one of the houses was converted into a temporary hospital.
The site was later that of the Dorchester Cinema.
But things were moving fast. A new site was chosen at White Horse Ings and in October 23 1782 was bought for £552.
A document for the time said: “The stillness of the White Horse Ings site was unbroken except for the twitter of birds in the trees sparsely scattered over the level landscape, by the lowing of herds that battened on the broad meadows, by the bucolic shouts of the cow herd, by the lumber of the stagecoach along the Beverley Turnpike, the babble of the brook of the Spring Ditch and the creak of the windmill.”
It was a scene difficult to image today, for on that same site now stands the Prospect Centre.
In their book - The Hull Royal Infirmary 1782-1982 published by Hull Health Authority in 1982 the story of the hospital from its earliest beginning was described. It was written by Dr Barry C Howell, a consultant anaesthetist and Mr Stanley Bates, former group secretary of Hull A Group Hospital Management Committee. They tell in detail the long history of this local institution.
It was in 1963, they say, that the old workhouse in West Hull was demolished and the new Western General Hospital was built.
“There is a foundation stone to prove it – laid by Enoch Powell MP, who was presented with a silver trowel following the proceedings.
“Somehow by 1967 the name had changed and the new Hull Royal Infirmary had been born, built on the Poor House grounds…”
The new building was designed to replace not only the infirmary in Prospect Street, by now outdated and unable to meet modern needs, but also the Victoria Hospital for Sick Children in Park Street and the Western General Hospital which previously occupied the site on which the infirmary now stands.
Indeed there are reminders of that hospital, old blocks at the back of the infirmary still being used today.
The infirmary was opened by the Queen in July 1967.
Written by The Editor - 08/12/2010 06:49:08
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