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Langley Smallpox Hospital

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Alternative name(s):
  • Hitchin Smallpox Hospital (Later known as)
Date: 1901-1940
History: Langley Smallpox Hospital was opened in 1902 by the Hitchin Joint Hospital Board (known as the North Hertfordshire Joint Hospital Board from 1932) to deal with all smallpox cases in the Hitchin and Letchworth area. The Hitchin Joint Hospital Board consisted of representatives of Hitchin Rural District Council and Hitchin and Letchworth Urban District Councils. The Smallpox Hospital was a daughter institution of the Letchworth and Hitchin Isolation Hospital. It would seem to have lasted until at least 1940. It is likely to have closed along with many other isolations hospitals with the advances of medical science in infectious diseases in the 1940s.
  • Hitchin, Hertfordshire
  • Langley, Hertfordshire
Sources of authority: Poor Law Amendment Act 1868; Public Health Act 1875; Isolation Hospitals Act 1893; Public Health Act 1936
Functions, occupations and activities: Health and social care > Hospitals
Historical context: Many towns had some form of isolation hospital from the eighteenth century, usually in the form of a pest house, where verminous or infectious people were treated. It was not, however, until the late nineteenth century that the formal treatment of infectious diseases, such as scarlet fever, typhoid and smallpox, was considered. The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1868 dealt briefly with the subject, since most patients with infectious diseases found their way into the workhouse infirmaries because voluntary hospitals could and did refuse to admit them. In 1875 the Public Health Act enabled any local authority to provide hospital accommodation for the treatment of patients with infectious diseases paid for by the rates. It also allowed for two or more authorities to combine to maintain a hospital. In 1893 the first Act relating solely to isolation hospitals was enacted, stating that, on the application of twenty-five or more rate payers, the local authority was to provide an isolation hospital out of the rates, to be run by an Isolation Hospital Committee. Those suffering from TB found themselves in specially appointed sanatoriums and those suffering from VD in the workhouse infirmary. Isolation hospitals were also permitted to open schools or nursing to train nurses specifically in the treatment of infectious diseases. A further Act was enacted in 1901 reinforcing the powers of local authorities to purchase land compulsorily for use as an isolation hospital. In 1936 a further Public Health Act abolished all Isolation Hospital Committees and replaced them with Joint Hospital Boards. Medical advances meant that in the years after the Second World War the need to provide such hospitals became redundant, and many of them were closed in the first years of the National Health Service.
References: Hosprec database
Name authority reference: GB/NNAF/C26042 (Former ISAAR ref: GB/NNAF/O91867 )
  Description Held by Reference Further information
1901-09, 1933-40: records incl minute book and clerk's letter books
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
NRA 11973 Hertfordshire

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Related record creators
  Record creator Description of relationship Dates Category of relationship
Langley Smallpox Hospital was managed by North Hertfordshire Joint Hospital Board