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Holywell Hospital, Watford

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Alternative name(s):
  • Watford and District Isolation Hospital (Formerly known as)
  • Watford General Hospital (Holywell Wing) (Later known as)
Date: 1896-1978
History: The Watford and District Isolation Hospital was opened in 1896, in Tolpits Lane, Watford by the Watford Joint Hospital Board at a cost of £12,058. It consisted of two wards and two isolation blocks with a total of forty-two beds. In 1904 the hospital was enlarged to a total of 66 beds. The Joint Hospital Board also made arrangements to use the Holywell Hospital as a smallpox hospital. The hospital was further extended in 1934 to 100 beds at a cost of £26,000.

Following the creation of the National Health Service in 1948, the hospital was managed by the West Hertfordshire Hospital Management Committee in the North West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board. Before 1955 it was re-named Holywell Hospital, when it was used to treat cases of tuberculosis and other chest or respiratory ailments.The hospital became part of Watford General Hospital in 1968, being re-named Watford General Hospital (Holywell Wing). For the period 1974-1982 it was administered by the South West Hertfordshire District Health Authority in the North West Thames Regional Health Authority. It was fully absorbed by Watford General Hospital in 1982.
  • Watford, Hertfordshire
Sources of authority: Poor Law Amendment Act 1868; Public Health Act 1875; Isolation Hospitals Act 1893; Public Health Act 1936; National Health Service Act 1946
Functions, occupations and activities: Health and social care > Hospitals
History Links: webpage on Watford General Hospital (Holywell Wing)
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; Burdetts and Hospital Yearbooks 1901-1992; Lost Hospitals of London website
Name authority reference: GB/NNAF/C26510 (Former ISAAR ref: GB/NNAF/O91884 )
  Description Held by Reference Further information
1896-1948: records incl minute books, a letter book, financial records and misc ledgers
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
NRA 11973 Hertfordshire
1913-1978: minutes of committee
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies

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Related record creators
  Record creator Description of relationship Dates Category of relationship
Watford and District Isolation Hospital was adminstered by Watford Joint Hospital Board