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Welwyn Garden City Cottage Hospital

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Date: 1929-1942
History: The Welwyn Garden City Cottage Hospital was opened in 1929, after the Welwyn Garden City Health Association purchased tin January the Hollies Nursing Home (set up in 1923) at the corner of Youngs Rise and Elmwood for £2,750. The hospital had eight beds, of which three were private. There was one operating theatre. In 1940 the Cottage Hospital moved from Elm Gardens to Frethorne House in Church Road which had been a Boys' Preparatory School (built in 1926 for Reverend Whalley).

In 1948 the Welwyn Garden City Health Association was disbanded and the Welwyn Garden City Cottage Hospital passed to the Minister of Health and became part of the North West Metropolitan Hospital Board, being was managed by the Mid Herts Group No. 7 Hospital Management Committee. At that time it had 20 beds. In 1963 the new Queen Elizabeth II Hospital at Howlands eventually made its long-awaited appearance as a modern hospital suitable for the new city. The old Cottage Hospital continued, becoming a unit of 20 beds for the treatment and accommodation for geriatric patients. It was closed in 1978, with its patients being transferred to the new geriatric unit at Queen Elizabeth IId had closed by the early 1970s. It was also linked with Peartree Maternity Home, which opened in 1940.
  • Welwyn, 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; Burdetts and Hospital Yearbooks 1901-1977; A2A online catalogue; Welwyn Garden City; Maurice de Soisson, A Town Designed for Healthy Living, 1987
Name authority reference: GB/NNAF/C45761 (Former ISAAR ref: GB/NNAF/O91900 )
  Description Held by Reference Further information
1929-42: misc minute 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
Welwyn Garden City Cottage Hospital was managed by Mid Herts Group Hospital Management Committee
Welwyn Garden City Cottage Hospital was under the authority of the North West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board