January 1 1930 and now we are Warren Road Hospital

THIS MONTH’S ANNIVERSARY..more interesting facts from our archive

Lithograph of Guildford Union workhouse 1838 by Henry Prosser
Lithograph of Guildford Union workhouse 1838 by Henry Prosser

January 2015 marks the 75th ANNIVERSARY of Guildford Union Workhouse changeover to a local authority hospital.  On 1st January 1930 the Guildford Institution was renamed Warren Road Hospital and on 1 April that year its management passed from the Ministry of Health to the Public Assistance Committee of Surrey County Council. So, 94 years after being founded the Institution changed emphasis from managing the poor/destitute to providing medical care for both the local community and the poor.

The Local Government Act 1929 did away with the old Institution but was this really the end of the Workhouse?

Under the Act Surrey County Council took over the employment of 950 Poor Law Officers, 35 Road Officers and 828 workmen across the county. Its review of the Guildford Institution states that there were175 beds for hospital in-patients and, interestingly, accommodation for 253 inmates who were still in need of support. Vagrants or tramps were still in need of shelter, with an average of 33 sleeping in the Spike each night. The Institution, including the Master and Matron, employed 79 staff.

After 1930, it is fair to say that change was only piecemeal. Some dormitories were still converted into wards, despite a 1933 report that the Institution was “incapable of adaptation” to a hospital. The hospital staff consisted of one resident and one assistant Medical Officer, a Superintendent Nurse, 6 Sisters and 24 Probationary Nurses.

Miss Brigit Coyle, (who joined the staff in 1930) recalled: “In 1933 I became Night Sister. Being the only trained person on duty, I was responsible for the supervision of the general wards, the deliveries in a 10 bedded maternity ward and the night theatre work……on coming off duty in the morning I would often give a lecture to the nurses as in those days we had no sister tutor. My off duty was four nights a month, all taken together.  I can recall a period of ten weeks when I had to work without any off duty.”

Research – latest news

Phil Davie has been finding out more about the naming of St Luke’s Hospital. (Click on the heading above to see the full article.)

A short history of St Luke’s Hospital – ‘From Workhouse to Hospital’

Photo Sr of Aylward and Jean Bruce (K Convery)THE HISTORY OF St LUKE’S HOSPITAL

In 1838, a workhouse was built on the outskirts of Guildford, in accordance with the provisions of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act. Its purpose was to house 300 people, the destitute, ill and infirm from 21 parishes. 10 infirmary beds were allocated for the sick – which proved to be totally inadequate.

On 9th February 1856 the Poor Law Board Inspection of the Workhouse reported that the infirmary was overcrowded by 30%, the ventilation was “most imperfect “, and declared: “the infirmary is totally unfit and a disgrace to the Establishment.”

A new infirmary was built the following year but by 1891, after another damning Poor Law Board report, the Guildford Board of Guardians built the new 170-bed Guildford Infirmary, the forerunner of St. Luke’s Hospital, which opened in 1896.

During World War I, the infirmary and most of the remaining workhouse buildings were taken over by the military. The Guildford War Hospital treated 7,680 mainly British, Australian and Canadian soldiers between 1916 and 1919.

In 1929 The Local Government Act passed management of the infirmary to Surrey County Council (SCC.) Union Lane had been renamed Warren Road and Guildford Infirmary became known as Warren Road Hospital. By now there were 190 beds, including five maternity, mainly for unmarried mothers.

In 1938 there were proposals to build a large modern hospital on the site.As Warren Road prepared for another war, these plans were suspended.
The London hospitals were organised to meet the threat of bombing and the Warren Road site was incorporated into Sector 8 of the Emergency Medical Services, under St. Thomas’ Hospital. In addition to providing general hospital care for civilians, Warren Road treated military cases, including hundreds of casualties from Dunkirk and the D-Day landings.

In 1939 Warren Road Hospital was provided with a military style ‘hutted hospital’, built by Canadian soldiers. A group of London teaching hospitals used this new annexe to set up a temporary Radiotherapy Unit.

World War II brought about significant changes, with doctors and nurses coming down from St. Thomas’ and other London teaching hospitals. For many of them it was their first experience of working in hospitals where conditions and standards of care left much to be desired. This and the over-estimation of beds needed during the war helped pave the way for the NHS.

In 1945, the association with the old workhouse infirmary ceased, in name at least, when Warren Road Hospital became St. Luke’s Hospital. SCC renamed the hospital after Addison Road church of St Luke’s, (Luke being the Patron Saint of Physicians.)

In 1948 the hospital was incorporated into the National Health Service, which had just been established under the National Assistance Act of 1947. Following Clinical Union with Guildford’s Royal Surrey County Hospital (RSCH) Farnham Road in 1952, St. Luke’s expanded and specialised. The stigma of being a former workhouse hospital began to disappear.

During the late 1950s and 1960s, St. Luke’s expansion continued. The Nurses’ Preliminary Training School was built in 1956 and radiographers, operating department practitioners and midwives were all trained on site.

Dr R B McMillan MD, FRCP(E) was the Superintendent Physician. His foresight and organisational ability guided the hospital through this period. The new McMillan Day Hospital was named in his honour. Matron Brigit Coyle was another key figure and Coyle Hall was named after her.

St Luke’s became home to the Group and District Pathology Service, the Public Health Laboratory, new Haematology and Clinical Biochemistry departments.

In 1963 the Betatron Cancer Appeal Trust began fundraising to buy an electron therapy unit for cancer treatment, the first of its type in the UK. Hospital staff, with the actress Florence Desmond, the hospital secretary Mr Frank Cogdell, Mr Wingrave-Clarke and the League of Friends worked together to raise over £150,000. The Betatron was installed in 1967 and remained in service for 24 years.

Later Developments….

By January 1980 the policy of centralising services in one Guildford hospital was well under way. In the first phase, inpatient services in general medicine, general surgery and paediatrics were transferred from St Luke’s. This marked the end of St. Luke’s as a general hospital.

St. Luke’s still provided a wide range of outpatients services and remained particularly busy as it housed the Departments of Rheumatology and Rehabilitation, Obstetrics and Gynaecology as well as an enlarged Geriatric Department and of course, the important Regional Radiotherapy and Oncology Centre. The Diagnostic Radiology, Physiotherapy and Occupational therapy departments continued their work on-site, along with the Public Health Laboratory and the Medical Photography and Illustration department.

The first Laser Laparoscopy in the United Kingdom was performed at St Luke’s Hospital in
October 1982
by Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Dr Christopher Sutton and his team led
by Sister Annie Parker and her nurses, with technical support from Dougie Bathie.

All the funding for a new Colposcopy clinic was raised by the ‘Guildford Raise a Laser’ charity
appeal, set up and run by St Luke’s staff.

In 1985, the Obstetric Department was improved and expanded to accommodate the Haslemere and
District Maternity Unit. In 1990, Nurse and Midwifery training also increased to serve three Health
Districts with the Frances Harrison College of Healthcare.

The site at Warren Road was always earmarked for closure. In 1991 the older main building of the hospital was closed and the Inpatient and Outpatient departments transferred to the Royal Surrey County Hospital. On April 1st 1991, St. Luke’s Hospital joined with the RSCH to form a jointly self-governing Trust within the National Health Service. Departments continued to be transferred away from the site.

The last department to leave was Radiotherapy in November 1996.
The site was then sold to make way for the 257 homes in St. Luke’s Park and St. Luke’s Square.

Thomas Jenner Sells creator of Charlotteville

Image 1.7 Cline Road

Our researcher Liz Lloyd has been looking into the life of Dr Sells Sr and his creative vision for Charlotteville, which has endured, making this part of Guildford distinctive, even today.

Thomas Jenner Sells MRCS and JP 1811-1879

Thomas Jenner Sells was born on February 25th 1811 in Clarendon, Jamaica, the son of William Sells, Practitioner of Medicine, and his wife, Euphemia. William Sells was a surgeon in Jamaica for several years. B. W. Higman in, “Slave Populations of the British Caribbean 1807-1834,” quotes William Sells recommendation in 1815 that slave women should have, “proper lying-in houses,” for safe delivery of their babies, “with attention from a medical Practitioner.” In 1823 William published his own work, “Remarks on the Condition of Slaves in the island of Jamaica.” In November 1826 he and his family left Jamaica and by 1841 he was living in Kingston-upon-Thames where he died in September.

After completing his medical training, Thomas Jenner Sells settled in Guildford in about 1840. He worked and lived with the elderly surgeon William Newland, whose practice he took over. He was later in practice with Caleb Woodyer and James Stedman. On July 19th 1842 Thomas married Charlotte, the daughter of Rev. John Stedman and they settled at 109 High Street. In 1846 and again in 1851, Thomas was elected Mayor of Guildford and in 1856 he was a member of St Mary’s burial board.

Thomas and Charlotte had six children, four sons and two daughters. Charles John Sells and Hubert Thomas Sells followed their father into medicine, William Sells became a clergyman and Edward Jenner Sells became a bank cashier. In addition to his everyday medical duties, Thomas took over the private lunatic asylum at Leapale House. His partner at first was William S. Wilson, who married Thomas Sells’ daughter, Euphemia, two years later. By her early 40s, she was a widow and spent the rest of her life living with her younger sister, Frances Duncomb Sells, who had never married.

In 1852 Thomas Jenner Sells participated in the investigation into the horrific murder of a 3 year old child in Albury. John Keene and his wife Jane were accused of drowning her illegitimate child, Charlie Broomer, in a well in February 1851. Mrs Keene’s mother, Ann Broomer, had reported her fears to Police Superintendent Josiah Hawkins Radley stationed at Guildford and he took a well-digger to Warren Well near Albury Heath. On finding remains, they summoned Dr Sells. Thomas Sells testified that the body had been in the well for at least a year and he produced the skull, which he had put back together, to show to the Court.

Other testimonies included that of Mr Ames, Master of Guildford Union Workhouse, who reported that Jane Keene had been admitted to the Workhouse after dark on January 10th 1851 accompanied by two children, 3 year old Charlie Broomer and a baby born a few weeks before to Jane and her husband John. She had left the Workhouse with her children on February 6th. On 16th February she returned to the Workhouse with her husband John and her youngest child, saying that Charlie was with her mother in Albury. In spite of the fact that all the evidence was hearsay, at the end of the trial Jane Keene was acquitted but her husband was condemned to death for murder.

One of the other cases involving Thomas occurred in 1864 when there was a quarrel between two boys from a gypsy encampment on Whitmoor Common. One boy, John Stacey, was stabbed. Dr Sells dressed his wound and then sent the boy to the Workhouse although his assailant had escaped towards Woking. In January 1865 an inquest was held on the death of Thomas Philips, a fruit hawker from Kingston. He had been arrested the previous week for being drunk in the street and as he was very unwell at the police station Dr. Sells directed that Philips should be removed to Guildford Union Workhouse. While at the workhouse, he fell and died.

T. J. Sells was a man of his time, an entrepreneur with a social conscience. He was actively involved in the management of two Friendly Societies, the Ancient Order of Foresters and the West Surrey General Benefit Society which provided sick pay to its subscribers. In 1865 he was elected chairman of the Working Men’s Institution, now better known as the Guildford Institute. He was co-founder of the town’s first public hall for the Guildford Institute in North Street. He was an Alderman of the town, a magistrate and during the last few years of his life, a justice of the peace.

In 1862 Thomas Jenner Sells purchased a large plot of land at the south-eastern end of Guildford with the intention of building many houses. Thomas Sells worked with Henry Peak, the town’s first Borough surveyor, and the design for one of the first housing estates in the town took shape. Thomas Sells named the area after his wife, Charlotte, and all the roads were named after famous physicians. Charlotteville, one of the earliest planned suburbs in Britain, was planned to have a social mix, with large villas to purchase and small terraced cottages to rent. The gradual building of this, “urban village,” continued after the death of T. J. Sells, but in 1867 at an anniversary dinner for the local Forresters’ Lodge, Thomas commented that, “He hoped he had shown his fellow townsmen the best way to spend their money. Every mechanic should live in his own home.”

Thomas earned the respect of his peers in Victorian Guildford. At a Forresters’ Dinner in 1865 his health was toasted by the chairman for being, “A skilful, courteous gentleman who thought no trouble too much in looking after his patients.” In 1864 his innovation in establishing Charlotteville earned the praise of the Surrey Advertiser, “Mr Sells deserves success and we cannot too highly commend that private enterprise which while it conduces to such success, improves the town and confers a lasting obligation upon the inhabitants.”

Thomas Jenner Sells continued to take an active part in civic duties until shortly before his death. He died at the age of 68 after a few weeks illness. In March 1879, two years after his wife, Charlotte, he was buried in the Mount cemetery in Guildford.
Elizabeth Lloyd

Diaries of Henry Peak edited by Roger Nicholas
Census and Parish records from www.Ancestry.co.uk
British Newspapers Archive www.findmypast.co.uk
Times Digital Archive

A new exhibition for the Spike Heritage Centre

staff photograph

St Luke’s Hospital started as an infirmary ward in the Guildford Union Workhouse. It was a modern NHS General Hospital by the 1960’s.This exhibition traces its history, illustrating a bigger story; how our healthcare services evolved from workhouse infirmaries up and down the country.

(For more information about the exhibition and a press pack please contact jane@charlotteville.co.uk)

The Spike, now an award winning Heritage Centre, is the 1906 Guildford Union Vagrants and Casual Ward. Its long, cold corridor with stone-breaking cells was erected to separate the ‘undesirable’ vagrants and their disruptive influence from the structured routine of the Workhouse. It is entirely run by volunteers and has just completed a major research project into the history of modern hospitals from their Victorian roots, as a workhouse sick bay, to a modern NHS Trust.

WH 1

To contact The Spike:
The Spike Heritage Centre, Warren Road, Guildford Surrey GU1 3JH
Telephone:01483 569944
Email: heritage@charlotteville.co.uk
the spike grey