Dr John Kershaw (1840 - 1909) was at one time the Medical Officer of Health for Royton. When he died, he bequeathed almost his entire legacy for the establishment of a hospital for the people of the district. Although discussion began almost immediately on the subject, it was many years before the hospital actually opened.
The hospital was completed in 1929 by Whitworth, Whittaker and Co Ltd, and was built and equipped for a total cost of £14,850. The architect was Mr Sidney Moss of Manchester. In 1930, a charity was registered under the name 'Dr Kershaw's Cottage Hospital'. The Charity Commissioners' Scheme for the Hospital stipulated that it was to be administered by a committee of nine people. This committee, in accordance with Dr Kershaw's will, was not to include any Clergymen or Socialists.
Dr Kershaw's Hospital finally opened at Turf Lane in Royton on 28 February 1931. At that time, it had five male beds, five female and two private. Patients were admitted on the recommendation of their doctor, and they continued to be treated by that doctor while in the hospital. They still had to pay their doctor's fee, and, initially, they had to pay ten shillings a week towards their maintenance (this was reduced to five shillings in 1937). Preference was given to the residents of Royton, and those who did not live in Royton had to pay more. The hospital was intended for medical and surgical patients only. Infectious, mental, chronic and incurable cases were not admitted. In 1938, the hospital was extended.
Despite the protests of local people and the management committee, the hospital was transferred to the newly formed NHS in 1948, but seems to have continued running in much the same way as before. In the 1970s, Patrick Steptoe established his human in-vitro fertilisation clinic at Dr Kershaw's, and the world's first test tube baby was conceived there in 1977. In 1984, Dr Kershaw's was removed from the control of the local GPs and placed under the Area Health Authority who designated it a centre for geriatric care only. In 1986, the hospital was closed 'temporarily', but by the time it re-opened in 1989, it had been handed over to the Oldham Hospice Appeal and renamed Dr Kershaw's Hospice.
Oldham Local Studies:
A History of Dr Kershaw's Cottage Hospital, Royton by G M Hargreaves (1999) (NH)
Dr Kershaw's Cottage Hospital in Varley's Royton Annual 1931 (FW72)
Dr Kershaw's Chronicle produced by Dr Kershaw's Hospice, Oct 1992, Jun 1994 (NH) pamphlet
Dr Kershaw's Christmas Chronicle produced by Dr Kershaw's Hospice, Dec 1993 (NH) pamphlet
Dr Kershaw's Hospice - for the People of Oldham District and Middleton (NH)
Various items on the History of Dr Kershaw's Hospice - newspaper cuttings, photocopies, etc (NH) pamphlet