To celebrate 70 years since the National Health Service (NHS) was founded it seems only fitting to share with you a small dose of records from our archives! A search of our records catalogue shows thousands of items referencing health, medicine, doctors, nurses, hospitals and all things related. In fact, searching the word ‘hospital’ generated nearly 9000 results, so this seems like a good place to start.
Hampshire Record Office holds various hospital collections within its archives and they include; administrative records, photographs, memoirs and other miscellaneous items. As well as the larger hospitals, included in the archives are a small number of items relating to cottage hospitals. Cottage hospitals were located in rural areas usually housing a handful of beds. The cottage hospital could deal with emergencies and work closely with the local doctors; it also avoided lengthy and potentially difficult journeys to the larger hospitals. Now few and far between, some cottage style hospitals do exist, although they are more commonly referred to as community hospitals. The first hospital of this kind to open its doors was the Cranleigh Cottage Hospital in Surrey; established in 1859 it is still serving the local community as a village hospital.
The photos below depict the rural setting and small scale of the traditional cottage hospital.
Yateley: the back of the Cottage Hospital, nd  Ref: HPP61/041
Yateley Hospital was set up in a small cottage purchased on Yateley Common in 1900, the hospital remained opened for 70 years, closing it doors in the 1970s.
Fleet and District Cottage Hospital, with nurses in front, nd [c1935]
Fleet Cottage Hospital was opened in 1898; built on land donated by Lord Calthorpe. It is still in use today and is known as Fleet Community Hospital, still relatively small it currently has 18 beds.
Petersfield: a view of one of the wards at Petersfield Cottage Hospital, nd [c1930]
Petersfield Cottage Hospital, based in Swan Street was opened in April 1871 and continued to serve the community until 1992 when it was demolished to make way for the new community hospital.
A far cry from the quaint feel of the cottage hospital is the Royal Victoria Hospital. Also known as Netley Hospital, it admitted its first patient in 1863, seven years after building work commenced. Built primarily to aid the casualties of the Crimean War it was also home to the Army Medical School and Army Nursing Service. The main building could accommodate 1000 patients, but World War I and II saw the hospital full to capacity and patient admission was increased with the assembly of tents and huts in the hospital grounds.
‘Netley Hosptial was built at the request of Queen Victoria for Florence Nightingale on her return from Crimea, and it was here that the “Lady of the Lamp” started her first school for Army nurses.’
‘One of these hospitals was the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley, a splendid red brick building faced in Portland Stone with plinths of Welsh granite and standing majestically in over 200 acres near the edge of Southampton water. Through two wars its graceful towers and great domes were a welcoming sight for thousands of returning wounded servicemen.’
‘In the 40 years that the Army Medical School spent at Netley it achieved European Fame.’
Copy history and achievements of the army medical school at Netley, 1863-1903, (1970s) Ref: 92M91/3/1/4
Left; Photograph of Miss H C Norman, daughter of Field Marshal Sir Henry Norman, lady superintendent of nurses at Netley Hospital [Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley],  Ref: 92M91/2/4/3a
Right; Netley: Netley Hospital [Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley], nd [c1904]
Amongst this collection are three Royal Army Medical Corps sports day programmes dating from 1912 to 1914. The events were held in the grounds of Netley Hospital and members of the public could go and watch the thread and needle race, veteran’s race, three legged race and tilting the bucket to name a few! There is also a sports day programme from May 1945 in aid of the Hound Forces Welcome Home Fund in which men, women and children could compete in races, including of course the traditional egg and spoon race.
Sports Day Programmes, 1912-1914. Ref: 92M91/1/4/1
In 1966 it was decided to demolish the main building of the hospital as a result of fire damage a few years earlier, and in 1978 the Psychiatric Hospital based on the same site was closed. To mark the hospital’s closure, Netley hosted; ‘It’s A Knockout’ in which various hospitals, including the Royal Naval Hospital Haslar and the Cambridge Military Hospital Aldershot competed against each other in events such as; ‘transfusion confusion’ and ‘beechams might do’! (ref: 92M91/1/4/4).
Concerning memories of riding a bicycle along the corridors at night, (1940s)
Remember, you are welcome to visit Hampshire Record Office; look through our local studies collection and view documents first hand, and as we have been talking of all things medical don’t forget to book your space on our special evening event; Medicine Through Time.
6:30pm on Thursday 5 July 2018 at Hampshire Record Office
£12 per person or £10 if you book before 21 June
For further information and to book you space please visit:
Steff Palmer, Archive Assistant