Browse by Records Creators

North Hertfordshire and South Bedfordshire Hospital, Hitchin

This page summarises records created by this Organisation

The summary includes a brief description of the collection(s) (usually including the covering dates of the collection), the name of the archive where they are held, and reference information to help you find the collection.

Alternative name(s):
  • Hitchin Dispensary (Formerly known as)
  • Hitchin Infirmary (Formerly known as)
Date: 1856-1971
History: In 1823 a voluntary dispensary was established at Cock St, now High St, Hitchin, to look after the sick and lame poor in the town and vicinity. It was administered by a committee of governors and subscribers. The dispensary dealt only with patients recommended by the governors and subscribers. A medical officer gave his services free for two hours a week. Patients in the town who were too sick to be moved, could be visited by the dispensary doctor. The overseers of the poor in Hitchin parish and neighbouring parishes were entitled to recommend patients according to the amount of their annual subscription. By 1829 thirty-one parishes were using the establishment and the number of patients had increased to 357 annually. The subscribers felt the objects of the dispensary attained, but this alone could not deal with the more serious cases. In 1829 they established a fund to build a new hospital. Hitchin Infirmary was designed by a Mr Bellamy and erected in Pound Lane, now Brand Street, and opened in October 1840. There was initially 10 beds, but it was soon increase to 12, then 16, and by 1893 there were 22 beds. The hospital continued to be used mainly for the relief of the sick poor. In c.1900 the name changed to the North Herts and South Beds Hospital, indicating the area the infirmary had begun to serve.

On creation of the National Health Service in 1948 the hospital was managed by the Luton and Hitchin Group 2 Hospital Management Committee in the North West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board. It was an acute hospital with 76 beds. It started to become used as maternity unit. The hospital was closed in c1974, when the main maternity unit at Lister Hospital, Stevenage was opened in its place. The North Hertfordshire Maternity Unit at the same address in Bedford Road did, however, continued separately up to 1982, but had ceased to exist by 1985.
  • Hitchin, Hertfordshire
Sources of authority: National Health Service Act 1946
Functions, occupations and activities: Health and social care > Hospitals
Historical context: The first voluntary hospitals came into being in England to provide care for the poor after the Reformation, taking over the role previously performed by the monastic orders. Voluntary hospitals were privately endowed, often by a local landowner, but subsequently maintained by subscriptions and donations. Anyone was open to subscribe, and then became known as a governor or subscriber which entitled them to certain privileges. A Board of Management was appointed from the governors to administer the daily running of the hospital, usually with the help of a House Committee and a Finance Committee. Many local organizations adopted the hospitals and held fetes, garden parties and other fund raising events to raise money for the maintenance of the hospital and especially for the purchase of equipment. Many of the hospitals had contributory schemes which entitled a member of the scheme to medical treatment. The voluntary hospitals, unlike the large sprawling workhouse infirmaries, were usually small, containing as few as six or seven beds in some cases, and served the "deserving" poor of the immediate area. Voluntary hospitals would not generally admit the destitute or "undeserving" poor. In the early days of the voluntary hospitals the medical staff were usually unpaid, but it was considered to be prestigious to be appointed to the medical staff, who often maintained themselves by private practice. The nursing staff were on the whole either "Nightingale" nurses or had been trained at other nursing establishments. Voluntary hospitals could chose which patients to admit (then referring all other cases to the workhouse), and if their beds were full they could refuse to admit patients altogether. They did not take the chronic infirm, infectious cases or long term sick patients. Most of the voluntary hositals started life in cottages or other buildings, which were either bought by the governors or left by the benefactor. As the hospitals became more financially stable and more prestigious they were able to finance larger, purpose built buildings, often in the pavilion style with high ceilings and lofty corridors. On July 5th 1948 control of the voluntary hospitals passed from the Board of Management and therefore the local community to the Minister of Health.
References: Hosprec database; AM Foster, Market Town, 1987; A2A online catalogue
Name authority reference: GB/NNAF/C26541 (Former ISAAR ref: GB/NNAF/O91887 )
  Description Held by Reference Further information
1856-1950: records incl minutes of various committees, various reports, patient register and misc items
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
NRA 11973 Hertfordshire
1914-1971: records
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
See Annual return 2000

Sharing will require cookies. Show details

Related record creators
  Record creator Description of relationship Dates Category of relationship
North Herts and South Beds Hospital was under the Luton and Hitchin Hospital Management Committee
North Herts and South Beds Hospital was under the control of North West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board