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Bennetts End Isolation Hospital, Hemel Hempstead

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Alternative name(s):
  • Wood Lane Pest House (Formerly known as)
  • Highfield Lane Isolation Hospital (Formerly known as)
  • Hemel Hempstead Infectious Diseases Hospital (Formerly known as)
  • Ashley Close Hospital (Later known as)
  • Hemel Hempstead Isolation Hospital (Also known as)
Date: 1900-1948
History: There was a pest house at Wood Lane End from the mid-eighteenth century. By 1898, however, the need was felt to erect a more modern isolation hospital for the area. Thus a wooden hut was erected on Highfield Lane, in Hemel Hempstead. It was run by the local authority for the use of patients only within that district, namely the area surrounding Hemel Hempstead. In 1913 it was decided to erect a purpose-built building at Bennetts End on St Albans Hill with a total of 45 beds, although during a smallpox epidemic in 1916 the premises at Highfield Lane had to be re-opened.

In 1948 the hospital passed into the hands of the Minister of Health, managed by West Hertfordshire Hospital Management Committee as part of the North West Metropolitan Regional Board. At this time it ahd 45 beds avaialble. In c1952 it became a hospital for the treatment of the mentally handicapped, being ancillary to Harperbury Hospital and providing 30 beds for the mentally deficient. It came under the authority of Cell barnes and Harperbury and Harperbury Hospital Management Committee (from 1966 the Verulam Committee). In 1974 it came under North West Thames Regional Health Authority and its subordinate West Hertfordshire District Health Authority, being part of mental handicap unit, providing 87 beds in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It also became known as Ashley Close Hospital c1988. It soon became a nursing home for the elderly mentally infirm, being listed as Logandene UMI Unit among NHS services in 2011.
  • Hemel Hempstead, 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; A2A catalogue; Burdetts and Hospital Yearbooks 1901-1989
Name authority reference: GB/NNAF/C26172 (Former ISAAR ref: GB/NNAF/O91865 )
  Description Held by Reference Further information
1900-48: records incl minute books, financial records and register of in-patients
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
NRA 11973 Hertfordshire

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Related record creators
  Record creator Description of relationship Dates Category of relationship
Bennetts End Hospital was under the authority of the North West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board
Bennetts End Hospital came under the authority of the North West Thames Regional Health Authority
Bennetts End Hospital was managed by the West Herts Group Hospital Management Committee