|LOST HOSPITALS OF LONDON
Epsom Road, Leatherhead, Surrey KT22 8TA
|1904 - 1940
The first cottage hospital to open in Leatherhead was in a house leased to the 'Hospital Committee' by Mrs Sackville Davis. It opened in 1893 at No. 8 Clinton Road (No. 6 was used as the hospital laundry) and had 8 beds. Another resident, Mrs Abraham Dixon, donated an Ashford Litter (an open stretcher on two large wheels) to transport patients from their homes to the hospital. By August 1896 the Hospital was experiencing financial difficulties and was forced to close in 1902 due to lack of funds.
However, in 1903, the foundation stone was laid for a purpose-built hospital on land at the junction of Epsom Road and Fortyfoot Road. A newly arrived local G.P., Dr Carl Wahlgren von Bergen, provided much of the energy and inspiration for the project.
The Leatherhead and District Victoria Memorial Cottage Hospital opened in 1904 with 6 beds and 1 cot. It had cost £2,654 to build. The Hospital served a population of 4,000 and, in the first year, some 58 patients had been admitted.
As with other cottage hospitals, those suffering from infectious or contagious diseases or mental disorder were ineligible for admission.
The Hospital was enlarged in 1927, creating a need for more staff accommodation. The male ward contained 6 beds and a cot, and the female ward 8 beds and a cot. There were also two private patient beds.
In 1928 a small extension was added. This contained a waiting room for friends and relatives visiting in-patients, an emergency ward with one bed for accident cases and accommodation for resident medical staff. An anonymous gift of £4,500 had been received to equip and install an X-ray Department. To accommodate the new Department, Fairmead (previously Leverton House), opposite the Hospital in Epsom Road, was purchased. The house then contained the X-ray apparatus, a darkroom, a waiting room, a changing room for the patients, WCs, etc. Fairmead also provided accommodation for the night nurses.
In the same year a cricket match raised £273 2s 2d (£273.11); the money was used to buy an Electrolux refrigerator.
The weekly charge for in-patients varied from 2s 6d (13p) to 10s 6d (53p), depending on their means. Patients were expected to provide their own bed wear and changes of bed linen. No-one was permitted to remain in hospital for longer than a month unless there was a clinical reason for them to do so.
As the operating theatre was on the ground floor, unconscious post-operative patients had to be carried up a narrow stairway to be returned to their wards. When the President of the Hospital, Sir Alfred Bucknill, had to endure this indignity, he decided it was time to build a new hospital.
An Appeal was launched for the building fund. Dr von Bergen and Mr Leach led the campaign, purchasing land in 1939 from the estate of a Mrs Still for the site of the new hospital. Work began on the new building in 1939 and it had almost been completed, when WW2 broke out.
The Cottage Hospital closed in 1940 when the new Leatherhead Hospital opened.
Present status (April 2009)In 1960 the former Cottage Hospital building was converted into a home for disabled people by the Voluntary Association for Surrey Disabled. It was renamed Victoria House. By 2000 the building had become too old and problematic and the home closed in January 2011.
The building was demolished and rebuilt in 2005 as Victoria House, an apartment block.
No. 8 Clinton Road, site of the first cottage hospital, is now a private residence. The house has been substantially altered or rebuilt.
No. 6 Clinton Road was used as the laundry.
The second site of the Hospital on the corner of Epsom Road and Fortyfoot Road is now occupied by Merrywood, an apartment block (above and below).
Fairmead, location of the X-ray Department, has been demolished and its site is now part of the gated Ashcroft Place development.
The newly built Victoria House now occupies the site of the Hospital (above and below).
2nd August 2014)
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