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Watford and District Peace Memorial Hospital

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Alternative name(s):
  • Watford General Hospital (Peace Memorial Wing) (Later known as)
  • Watford District Cottage Hospital (Also known as)
Date: 1891-1935
History: The Peace Memorial Hospital in Watford began life as the Watford District Cottage Hospital in 1886. However, by 1917 the idea of replacing the Cottage Hospital (which had 30 beds and 2 cots for patinets) with a more modern hospital, as a memorial to those who had died in the First World War and as a permanent memorial to peace, was discussed. The project was financed on the whole by public subscription and donation. The Watford Board of Guardians bought the old cottage hospital and a new building was erected in Rickmansworth Road. The Watford and District Peace Memorial Hospital was opened in 1925 by Princess Mary, at which time it provided 108 beds and 8 cots for patients.

On 5 July 1948 control of the hospital passed to the North West Metropolitan Hospital Board and became known as the Watford Peace Memorial Hospital. At this tome it had accommodation of 179 beds for patients. In 1965 the hospital merged with Shrodell's Hospital to become Watford General Hospital, the site being known as Watford General Hospital (Peace Memorial Wing). From 1974 it was in the South West Herts District Health Authority in the North West Thames Regional Health Authority. In 1985 the hospital was closed, with the remaining services in the original building being moved to the Shrodells (the old workhouse) site, and in 1986 the buildings were demolished.
  • Watford, Hertfordshire
Sources of authority: National Health Service Act 1946
Functions, occupations and activities: Health and social care > Hospitals
History Links: webpage on Watford General Hospital (Peace Memorial Wing)
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 1901-1985; Lost Hospitals of London website
Name authority reference: GB/NNAF/C7066 (Former ISAAR ref: GB/NNAF/O51936 )
  Description Held by Reference Further information
1891-1909: minute books
Watford Museum
NRA 35003
1919-1935: out-letter book
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
NRA 11973 Hertfordshire

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Related record creators
  Record creator Description of relationship Dates Category of relationship
Watford Peace Memorial Hospital was under the authority of the North West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board.
Watford General Hospital (Peace Memorial Wing) was in the North West Thames Regional Health Authority
Watford Peace Memorial Hospital was managed by the West Herts Group Hospital Management Committee