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Hitchin Hospital

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Alternative name(s):
  • Chalkdell House (Formerly known as)
  • Hitchin Union Workhouse (Formerly known as)
  • Hitchin Poor Law Institution (Formerly known as)
  • Chalkdell Public Assistance Institution (Formerly known as)
  • Chalkdell Hospital (Formerly known as)
Date: 1930-2016
History: Hitchin Poor Law Union was formed in 1835 of representatives of 28 parishes (including the one Bedfordshire parish of Holwell). In 1836 the Hitchin Union Workhouse was built on Oughtonhead Way, Hitchin, to accommodate 250 inmates. A new hospital block was built in 1886. The workhouse later became known as Hitchin Poor Law Institution as well as Chalkdell House. In 1930 control passed to Hertfordshire County Council, after which it became known as Chalkdell Public Assistance Institution. From 1942 a separate hospital was set up within the PA Institution, known as Chalkdell Emergency Hospital, whose name was changed a year later to the Lister Hospital. Although the hospitals were in close proximity and managed by the same Hitchin Guardians Committee of the County Council, they were separate institutions. The Chalkdell Public Assistance Institution was known as Chalkdell Hospital from 1945.

Following the creation of the National Health Service in 1948 the Lister Hospital was managed by the Luton and Hitchin Group No. 2 Hospital Management Committee in the North West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board. The old Chalkdell Hospital as a chronic sick and geriatric annexe. In 1972 the New Lister Hospital was opened in Stevenage. The Old Lister Hospital was soon re-named Hitchin Hospital. In 1974 control passed to the North Hertfordshire District Authority in the North West Thames Regional Health Authority. In 1991 it became part of the North Hertfordshire NHS Trust. In 1992 the bulk of the hospital closed. By this time it was a geriatric hospital providing beds for 53 elderly, long-stay patients. Most of the buildings were demolished apart from the 1886 infirmary block, which was re-named Laburnum House by at least 2007, providing intermediate care for 20 patients.
  • Hitchin, Hertfordshire
Sources of authority: Poor Law Amendment Act 1834; Local Government Act 1929; National Service Health Act 1946
Functions, occupations and activities: Health and social care > Hospitals
Historical context: Union workhouses were set up following the passing of the Poor Law Amendment Act in 1834. There was no initial requirement for the boards of guardians to build infirmaries for the provision of health care, although many workhouses did have sick wards, which were poorly equipped and usually had no nursing staff, in which case care was provided by fit inmates. By 1842 it was generally recognised by most that some form of medical provision was necessary. Hospital workhouses were not permitted to turn away any patient, however ill, unlike voluntary hospitals which refused to deal with the long term chronically sick or those with infectious diseases. In 1929 the poor law unions were abolished, and control of the workhouses or poor law institutions and their infirmaries passed to the appropriate County Council, when they were largely re-named public assistance institutions. On 5 July 1948 the public assistance institutions and their hospitals were taken over by the newly formed National Health Service.
References: Hosprec database; Hospital yearbooks 1949-1999
Name authority reference: GB/NNAF/C231283
  Description Held by Reference Further information
1930-1974: records, incl minutes, discharge and admission, staff and private papers
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
1942-1971: committee minutes, annual reports, and nurse allocation registers
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
1966-2016: chaplaincy records
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
See Annual Return 2017

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Related record creators
  Record creator Description of relationship Dates Category of relationship
Hitchin Union Workhouse was built and administered by Hitchin Board of Guardians
Hitchin Hospital was managed by Luton and Hitchin Group Hospital Management Committee
Hitchin Hospital was under the authority of the North West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board
Hitchin Hospital was under the authority of the North West Thames Regional Health Authority