Chester Health Services History

Chester Royal Infirmary 1755-1993

"Two Hundred and Thirty Eight Years of Hospital Life" -  written 1993 by Harry Reynolds on behalf of the hospital

[The Blue Coat Hospital 1755] [The City 1750s] [Infirmary Statutes 1761] [The General Infirmary 1761] [Expenditure & Patients]  [Expenditure 1790-1830] [Local Development 1772] [Improvements 1829] [Infirmary Field Purchased 1859] [Creepies and Crawlies 1865] [Infectious Diseases Hospital 1868-1899] [The Humberston Wing 1892]

[The Twentieth Century] [Out-Patients and Operating Theatre 1903] [Criticism by Sir Henry Burdett, in “The Hospital” 1909] [£50,000 Renovation &New Wards Appeal 1911] [Chester Infirmary Fete,1912] [Lady Superintendent reports 1911-12][Parkgate Convalescent Home 1881] [Albert Wood Wings 1912.] [King George V  opens “Albert Wood” wings 1914] [Hospital renamed “ Chester Royal Infirmary” 1914] [The First World War] [War Time Snippets 1914-18] [Roman Burials] [Pathological and Other Departments] [1917 - 1950’s] [Visit of the Duke and Duchess of York. 1931] [Proposed expansion of the hospital 1939] [The Second World War] [1941 Christmas] [The Almoner ‘s Department] [1947.  New Appointments System] [1947- Deeside Hospital give £30,000] [1948-MBE Award Canon Aubrey Baxter] [Queen Elizabeth visit  Royal Infirmary 1957] [1963 - Duchess of Kent Opens new Outpatient’s Department]
[Dr.John  Haygarth] [Dr. Daniel Orred. 1780] [Dr .Cummings 1820s] [Dr.W.M.Thackery] [Mr Rowland]
[Nursing] [Nurses Pay] [Training] [Towards Professsional Nurse registration]

[Operating Theatres] [Duke & Duchess of York] [Orthopaedic Dept] [The Maxillis Facial — Orthodontic Clinic] [Ophthalmology and ENT Department] [General Outpatient Clinics] [Pathology Department] [The Pharmacy] [Records Department] [Catering Department] [The League of Friends Shop] [Ghosts] [Rope Dance] [Acknowledgements]

Other links:-
[Dr William Stratford - key founder] [Jane Seward - first Matron ] [William Thompson - the first inpatient ] [William Thompson, the first Out-Patient] [Chester Canal started 1772] [train crash 1847] [new city gaol 1807] [twenty wards 1830] [Infectious Diseases Hospital benefactors1865 Mrs. Wood, Ball and Dixon] [cholera outbreak 1867] [Colonel Humberston] [Bye-Laws of the Infirmary 1901] [Doctor's Rules1901 Nurse’s Rules] [Lieutenant William Gladstone, H Urmson Hayes, Captain Rigby, Mrs Taylor, G Barbour, F.Farrimond,E.Boden who  gave their names to hospital wards etc] [Hoole Bank Hospital] [Richmond House, Boughton] [Hon.Mrs.H.N.Gladstone] [Pathological Laboratory 1907] [Dr.John Elliott,  senior honorary physicians] [Mr Rowese Mitchell's Retirement -1920-46.] [1945 Canon Baxter performs first christening]

The Blue Coat Hospital 1755

The establishment of an Infirmary in Chester, was largely due to a bequest of £300 from a well known local ecclesiast Dr William Stratford in 1753, this encouraged the setting up of an appeal for donations in order that an Infirmary should be established in Chester.

It was stated at the time “that the establishment of this Infirmary will not only be a private but also a public advantage, as it will be a means of supplying the diseased poor with advice and medicines, and every necessity of cure, which the ordinary parochial charities do not sufficiently provide for”.

A Board of Management was appointed, and at a meeting on the 27th August 1755 it was ordered that the Weekly Board be empowered to fit up the North Wing of the [Blue Coat] Charity School to serve the purpose of an Infirmary till a proper building can be erected”.

At a Board meeting on the 30th September 1755 it was ordered “that Jane Seward chosen by ballot be Matron of the house. That her salary be Ten Guinea’s a year with such Gratuity as the first Board after the expiration of the year shall think proper”.

Following the fitting out of the un-occupied north wing of the Blue Coat School in Northgate Street, and the appointment of the Matron, the Infirmary opened its doors on the 11th November 1755, William Thompson, the first Out-Patient, of St.Mary’s parish, was recommended by Mr H Whishaw, and treated for a wound of the hand.

On the 20th January 1756 the In-patient Henry Gibson was admitted; he had been recommended by John Brook Esq; to be treated for Distemper in his limbs, he as discharged some weeks later as incurable.

The Infirmary was not without staff problems, at the Weekly Board meeting on the 17th August 1756 it was “Ordered that the cook, being found guilty of embezzling the Bread and Meat belonging to the Infirmary and behaving insolently to the Board; be immediately discharged”.

Poor hygiene and bad sanitation soon breed disease and illness, as Chester In the eighteenth century was no different to the rest of the country, and the Infirmary was called upon to treat such things as asthma, consumption, epilepsy, dropsy, hysteric’s, jaundice, leprosy, rheumatism, scrophula, scurvy, ulcerated legs and worms.

Work on the new General Infirmary started in 1758 and was completed for the opening of the Infirmary on the 17th March 1761. Situated near to the city centre it  was ideal; a fact which was greatly appreciated when the closure was announced in the 1980s.
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The City 1750s

Chester in the 1750’s was a thriving commercial city with many shops, cattle market, corn market, boat building and river trade, all going on in and around the city; also the inland waterways system of canals was coming closer to Chester; the result was a growing population of both static and moving families, and it was soon decided that the Blue Coat School’s north wing was not ideal for the Infirmary.

A number of sites in and around the city were proposed, looked at and then rejected, until finally a site close to the city walls was chosen. Work started on the site in 1758 and continued for three years until in 1761 the building was ready, the new Chester General Infirmary opened its doors to the first patients on the 17th March 1761.

A Board of Govenor’s was set up to oversee the running of the Infirmary, one of the Board’s first tasks was to draw up statutes for the governing of the Infirmary.
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The Statutes of the General Infirmary at Chester 1761          Porters: back to top

The General Infirmary 1761

The Infirmary building of 1761 was quadrangular consisting of four storeys and an  open court in the centre. The basement of the building provided some cellar  accomodation, whilst the ground floor was used for offices, and the first and second   floors the four wards.   The wards ran the length of the building and had sufficient space for two rows of  twelve beds, patients were only classified according to their sex, there being no  separate rooms in order to be able to isolate any infectious disease patients.  Inevitably the spread of infection was a serious problem, and disease that should  have responed quickly to treatment often proved fatal. Apart from the Male and Female wards on the first floor, there were also two nurse’s  rooms, pupil’s bedroom, women’s private ward, and the Infirmary chapel.

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Expenditure and Patients:

From the 11th November 1755, when William Thompson was the first patient to be treated at the Infirmary, up to the 1st March 1763; a total of 3189 patients had been treated. During the last ten years of the eighteenth century, 1790 to 1800, the average annual number of In-patients treated was 531.

Chester Infirmary Expenditure 1790 to 1830

Chester Infirmary Expenditure 1790 to 1830
The average number of Out-Patients treated in this period of ten years was 2340.  Both patients and staff had to be fed, and the Infirmary cleaned and heated; the  expenditure records for the period show that £509; 8s: 1d was spent on food, whilst  the shop department spent £535: 1s : 3d on items which included Apothecary’s Incidents, Drugs, Lomens, Phials, Corks, Spirits of Wine, Wine and Spirits, and Surgeons incidents.

Salaries for the nurses and servants accounted for £186:15 : 11d, miscellaneous items £76: 6s: 3d, Coal for fire’s etc £74: 6s: 8d, repairs £51 : 4s: l0d, linen, woollens, tin and earthenware, and furniture £28:12s: 6d making a total expenditure for the ten  year period 1790 to 1800 £1460: 16s: Sd.

During the forty years 1790 to 1830 the total expenditure at the General Infirmary Chester was £7537, this included such items as food, oil, gas, soap, candles, and   the nurse’s and servant’s wages. There was a little money going into the Infirmary from the sale and supply of medicines to places such as the House of Industry in the city, for the year 1763 to 1764 the governors presented to the House of Industry a bill for £12: 12s: 0d.
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Local Development 1772:

The population of Chester continued to grow as more development increased employment in the area. The Chester section of the Shropshire Grand Union Canal was started close to the Infirmary. When the Mayor of Chester in 1772 cut the first  sod in a quarry close to the Water Tower on the City Walls, patients in the Infirmary  would have clearly heard the twenty one guns which fired three rounds each, and the bells in the city ringing to mark this historic event.

In 1807 the new city gaol was erected on open land adjacent to the lnfirmary. The gaol was a classical building of the period designed by Joseph Turner, and also accommodated the House of Correction. The infamous “Drop” or gallows, where both city and county prisoners were executed, stood before the western entrance, by 1875 gaol in 1883.

By the 1840’s the railway had arrived in Chester, and with it came more employment for local people working both on the tracks and on the trains, also the movement of  goods by train brought quicker deliveries to the shops and businesses in and around the city.

Coal sidings could be found at Black Diamond Street in the city, and trains could be  heard passing the Infirmary several times a day, accidents on the railway brought  more patients to the Infirmary for treatment. One of the earliest recorded accidents occurred on the 24th May 1847 when a train crossing the bridge over the River Dee at the Roodee, plunged into the side of the bridge resulting in four people being killed  and nineteen injured.

There were also accidents on the canal and the river which brought patients to the Infirmary for treatment, often these involved me working on the canal banks or the boats, and children who were drawn to the canal to watch the boats or to fish.

The frst swimming pool and public wash house was also situated near the Water Tower on the city walls, and no doubt these also added to the number of patients  requiring treatment at the Infirmary.]
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Improvements 1829:

In 1829 a building committee was appointed to consider alterations in order to Improve the Infirmary, after a great deal of deliberation, the sum of £3250 was made available for alterations and additions to the Infirmary. The Infirmary’s basement was divided up in order to make space for domestic offices,  laboratories, store rooms, and a number of small rooms which were intended for the care of patients suffering from hysteria, epilepsy, smallpox whom it was advisable to treat in isolation.  The ground floor was retained for office accommodation, though some rooms were now set aside as a dispensary. There were also improvements made on the first and second floors in order to provide twenty wards, nurses rooms, baths and water closets, and bathrooms for nurses were installed around the central courtyard.

The 1830 improvements at the Infirmary resulted in there being twenty wards, four  nurse’s rooms, four convertible baths; hot and cold shower, vapour baths, nine water closets supplied with water, and galleries connecting the different wards, suitable for the convalescent patients to use for exercise in unfavourable weather. The Infirmary Governor’s opinion of the improvements carried out was that “the Chester Infirmary is now confessedly one of the most improved institutions, as to plan, in the country"..

Infirmary Field Purchased

In 1859, just over one hundred years after the opening of the original Infirmary at the Blue Coat School; The Board of Management purchased five acres of land on the north side of the Infirmary, which the Governors hoped by “keeping it for sanitary and recreative purposes” to preserve an area of open ground around the Infirmary;  The land bought from the ecclesiastical commissioners of the Dean and Chapter of Chester Cathedral, was a great improvement to the out door amenities of the hospital.

Creepies and Crawlies 1865:

In 1865 a committee of inquiry warned the governors of the Infirmary, that the deplorable state of the wards was so bad that it deterred patients from seeking to be  admitted, and those who were admitted were glad to leave the hospital as quickly as they could, the state of the fittings and furniture gave the place a general appearance of decay.

Floors and skirting boards were decayed and infested with vermin, which could only be removed by fumigation of the hospital. Painting, fumigating and other improvements, which included the replacement of the old lead baths; cost the governors £1630, a sum which they could ill afford.

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Infectious Diseases Hospital 1868:-

The General Infirmary would not accept smallpox cases, or patients suffering from other infectious diseases, as there was no way in which such patients could be  isolated. Anyone unfortunate enough to become infected was promptly packed off to  the Chester Workhouse.

In 1865 a legacy of £500 left by Mrs. Henry Wood to provide a hospital for smallpox  and other infectious diseases, made it possible for the Infirmary to extend its medical services in this field.

The Board of Management chose a site on the east side of the Infirmary, and plans were obtained for the erection of a building to provide accommodation for twenty four patients. Two ladies who were charitably inclined on hearing of the project came forward to relieve the governors from much of the financial worry, Mrs. William Ball and Mrs. James Dixon, donated £500 and £1000 respectively and a public appeal brought in the balance required to meet the builders estimate £2,595.

Work on the new Infectious diseases hospital began in 1867, the plans showed a two storey building with the wards on the ground floor and the day and nurses rooms upstairs. Local residents opposed the scheme vigorously on the grounds that it was prejudlcal to the health of the neighbourhood, and likely to depreciate the value of their property. The governors refused to be intimidated and building continued, but  not in time to provide beds for those struck during the serious cholera outbreak in 1867, but this outbreak brought about a rapid change in people’s attitude to the new  fever hospital.

In May 1868 the new fever hospital was completed and immediately proved to oe of great value. In 1869, 115 fever patients were admitted to its wards, over haL’ of these were suffering from typhus, but only one death occurred. The smallpox hospital was in use 1899 when Chester Corporation opened an isolation hospital at Sealand. before this the corporation had paid the Infirmary the sum of £50 due on the First of January each year, to keep the hospital for the treatment of infectious diseases open from time to time, for patients suffering from smallpox and other diseases.

The Humberston Wing 1892:

Although there had been many changes and. improvements at the Infirmary during the first hundred years, the end of the nineteenth century saw an important addition when the Humberston Wing was built in 1892.  Colonel Humberston who was Chairman of the Board of Managernent for  twenty five years, had left a legacy of £500 which the governors decided  to use as the nucleus of a fund in the Colonel’s memory; £2,000 was collected and the Humberston Wing was a reminder of one of the  Infirmary’s devoted servants.

The Twentieth Century

Following the improvements and expansion at the Infirmary, the Board of Management held a meeting on the 6th August 1901 when it drew up and  introduced Bye-Laws of the General Infirmary Chester. These are reproduced below:-

Bye—Laws of the General Infirmary Chester.

Made in conformity with the rules thereof and passed at a meeting of the Board of Management. Extract :—

Doctors Rules
Medical Officer’s Holidays:- The holidays of the Medical Officer’s shall not exceed four weeks in the year, leave being first obtained from the board, and. the name of the Locum Tenents duly qualified, approved. of by the Honourary Physcian or Surgeon, submitted to the Board. Any such Locurn Tenens will be allowed £8 : 8s  0d out of the Infirmary funds.
Fraternization:- All communications with Nurse’s, Probationers and Servants shall be limited to such matters only related to their respectives duties.
Gambling :- Gambling of every kind and card playing for money is forbidden, and any Officers infringing this order will be liable to dismissal at the discretion of the Board.
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Nurse’s Rules.
Ages of Nurse’s:-
Nurse’s must be between the ages of Twenty Four and Thirty at the time of their engagement, and no future Nurse shaIl be engaged below the age of Twenty Four without the consent of the Weekly Board Committee.

The Conditions of Employment:—

The Nurse’s will be under two divisions — First those corning to the hospital as Probationers, and who, being trained at the expense of the institution must sign an agreement to serve three years.  Secondly — those, who come to the hospital trained, are required after  three months trial to sign an agreement, promising to conform to the  Rules and Bye—Laws and to give three months notice when they wish to withdraw from the staff, or to forfeit salary.

The salary of each nurse shall commence at £20 per annum, with an increase of £1 per annum, up to £30, and shall not exceed that sum, except by special resolution of the Board. No beer money to be allowed.

Head Nurse’s Age and Salary:—
Head Nurse’s shall not be less than 25 years of age nor more than 55 at the time of their engagement, and their salaries shall commence at £50  per annum, with an increase of £2 per annum up to £56.

Nurse’s Uniforms:—
Each nurse shall be provided with the following uniforms:—
Head Nurse’s — 2 blue serge dresses, 6 aprons, 5 caps, in the year.
Assistant Nurse’s and Probationers:— 5 Pink print dresses, 6 aprons, 5 caps.
Private Nurse’s:— 4 Print dresses, 6 aprons, 5 caps.

Night Nurse’s Hours:—
The night nurse’s shall enter on their duties at ~ p.m. and continue on duty until 8 a.m. the next morning.

Time Off:—
Each nurse shall be entitled to two hours off duty daily, and one afternoon in each week from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., the necessary arrangements to be made with the sister of the ward.

No meals except lunch to be taken upstairs without the permission of the Lady Superintendent.

Jewellery :-
No jewellery, except brooches or studs, shall be worn in the wards.

Return of Uniforms
Uniforms are the property of the Infirmary, and must be given up or be  paid for by a nurse leaving the institution.

Lights Out:—
Nurse’s shall retire .to their roon~s immediately after prayers at 10 p.m. all lights to be out by 11 p.m..

Tidy Rooms:—
Nurse’s shall leave their windows open and their rooms in order on  returning on duty.

Staying Out:—
No nurse shall be out of doors after 9 p.m. or be absent from supper or  prayers without the permission of the Lady Superintendent.

Out-Patients and Operating Theatre.
In 1903 the Outpatients Department was enlarged, and a new operating theatre built thanks to the generosity of Mrs R.Tidswell who gave the Infirmary £600 in memory of her husband, The old operating theatre had consisted of an aid wooden operating table, a wooden instrument cupboard and a small basin with a single tap of cold water. The floor also of wood, must have absorbed countless bacteria during 149 years of use. Now electric light and hot and cold water were installed.

A modern operating theatre table and apparatus took the place of the old outdated equipment, and a bat window was buiit in the wall over the Infirmary porch.

insert View of the Infirmaryc. 1915 showing the front gate and one side of Bedward Row, this is where the entrance to the Out—Patients Department was for many years. One of the gate post and part of the railings could still be seen in the early 1990’s.
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Criticism by Sir Henry Burdett, Editor of “The Hospital” 1909:-

In 1909, to the consternation of the governor’s they found that the  Infirmary was being strongly criticised by Sir Henry Burdett, Editor of “The Hospital”, who paid a visit to Chester Infirmary in the course of a  private survey of hospitais in the United Kingdom; Sir Henry took everyone  by surprise arriving unannounced and unexpected. He toured the hospital  without making his presence known to the Secretary or Board and finished his tour by leaving a note in the Visitor’s Book to the effect that, In his opinion, as the hospital was more than 150 years old an effort should be made to provide a new hospital more in line witn the standards of  modern requirements.

The Board of Management, believing that Sir Henry meant them to build an entirely new hospital, and realising that the cost of such a buiiding would ce at least £60,000 wrote urgently asking Sir Henry to visit the Infirmary again in order to make his suggestions around the Board table.

The Board of Management awaited Sir Henry’ reply which came in the form  of a second article in ‘The Hospital”, pointing out that if the present building was renovated and an additional wing built at a cost of about £25,000 the Infirmary would be satisfactory.

The £50,000 1911-2 Renovation and New Wards Appeal - Mr Albert Wood
The Board of Management were greatly relieved at the more practical suggestion, that the Infirmary be renovated and an additional wing built, and decided that the time was now right to launch a hospital appeal. The Governor’s of the Infirmary held a meeting at Chester Town hall in 1911 where it was resolved to extend and renovate the Infirmary as a memorial to King Edward VII; and an appeal for £50,000 was jaunched.

By the end of 1912 more than £51,000 had. been contributed, £12,500 alone  being a gift from Mr Albert Wood of Conway, a name memorable in the history of the hospital. The architect’s plans showed almost a new hospital. There was to be a new “Albert Wood” wing; a new nurses s home,  and a new OutPatients Department; while the old building was to be   reconstructed and used as an administrative block.

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Chester Infirmary Fete,1912
The Chester Infirmary Fete was held on the Roodee, on the 2nd October 1912. The fete was preceeded by the procession of tableaux on  the back of lorries. On a dias which was decorated in yellow and red  and festooned with flowers, the Mayor’s daughter, Miss Phyllis Denson,  presented a bouquet to the floral Queen, Miss Violet Brooks.

‘The afternoon’s programme of events included Morris Dancing, Military Tournament, Mounted Wrestling, and a realistic battle with savages.

From the Report Book of the Lady Superintendent.  6th December 1911.
The Lady Superintendent requested to be allowed to order three dozen  blankets that is 18 pairs at 11/6d (57.5p) per pair.

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From the Report Book of the Lady Superintendent, 4th June 1912.

"I should like to suggest that we ask the Samaritan Committee to kindly  give us a water bed, it is very necessary to have one, as a spinal   injury may be admitted at any time and need to be put on one at once."

Parkgate Convalescent Home 1881
From 1835 the Weekly Board of the General Infirmary was subscribing to the  Parkgate Sea Bathing Charity, which had been established in I790 to enable poor people to take the sea bathing cure.

In 1881 the funds of the charity were used to buy a house and convert it into Parkgate Convalescent Home, which was then run by the Chester General Infirmary. The building suffered from its use as a Red Cross hospital during the First World War, and the convalescent home was closed in 1923.

The Albert Wood Wings 1912.

Following the appeal and the gift of £12,500 from Mr Albert Wood JP.Deputy Lieutenant, of Bodlendeb, Conway, North Wales, work began on the  new “Albert Wood” wings consisting at six pavilion wards,erected in memory of King Edward VII. Her Grace the Duchess of Westminster laid the Foundation stone on the 19th September 1912.

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King George V  opens new “Albert Wood” wings 1914

Work on the site of the new “Albert Wood” wings at the Infirmary was disrupted by the outbreak of the First World War, and by a strike by joiners  in dispute with their employers. This slowed the progress being made in  buiiaing the new wings. However it was arranged for the official opening to take place on the 25th March 1914, when their Majesties King George V  and Queen Mary would declare the new “Albert Wood” wings open.

Hospital renamed “ Chester Royal Infirmary” 1914
During the opening ceremony His Majesty declared that henceforth the  hospital would be known as the “ Chester Royal Infirmary”.  Most of the new hospital wards were in use and in 1917 the work was finally  completed. Many donations were made to the Royal Infirmary in memory of relatives who fell in battle during the war.

The Ophthaimic wards were completed and a new operating theatre opened in memory of Lieutenant William Gladstone, Squire of Hawarden, and two  wards were endowed in memory of Harry Urmson Hayes and Captain Francis  Rigby. Other bequests were made by Mrs. James Taylor, who provided a new  operating theatre in memory of her husband, one of the Infirmary’s honorary   surgeons, and by Mr. George BarbourMr.F.Farrimond and Mr.E.Boden who  gave their names to three of the hospital’s new wards.

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The First World War

The actual occasion for war arose out of conflict between Austria — Hungary  and Russia in the Balkans. The Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria, heir  to the Austro-Hungarian throne, was assassinated by a Serb at Sarajevo, in Bosnia, on 28th June 1914.

Austria - Hungary, supported by Germany, declared war on Serbia. Russia  mobilised in support of Serbia and Germany declared war on Russia an the 1st August 1914, and on France on the 5rd August 1914. On the 4th August 1914, Germany invaded Belgium in order to strike at France.  This brought Britain into the war on tne same cay.  The outoreak of war also saw the Infirmary preparing to admit wounded troops who had been evacuated from the battle field.

Chester Chronicle 14th November 1914.  .More Wounded Arrive at Chester. Straight from the Front”.

Another party of british wounded arrived in Chester an Wednesday evening  mostly “straight from the front”, fifteen were sent to the Hoole Bank Hospital, five to Richmond House, Boughton, and the remainder to the  Chester Royal 1nfirmary. Of the large number of wounded who arrived at  Hoole and Boughton a few weeks ago very few remain, and these are making   excellent progress.

Enquiries at Hoole Bank on Thursday afternoon elicted that six had been recently discharged, and the fifteen brought in the previous eveing were all seriously wonded as recently as Saturday  and  Sunday. They seem very happy and comfortable, and did not mind the passage  across the channel, the breezy passage across the Mersey on Tuesday evening aas their worst trial. However they bore their pain very cheerfully, and Wednesday evening saw them comfortably installed in their cosy quarters at Hoole.

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Chester Chronicle.   14th November 1914.  Wounded at Infirmary.    Soldiers Who Fought at Ypres.

The first draft of wounded soldiers arrived at Chester Royal Infirmary on  Wednesday evening. Six men who were injured only a few days ago while in the firing line in the neighoourhood of Ypres, were brought by road in  two motor cars from Liverpool and another soldier was transferred to the Infirmary from the military hospital at Chester Castle.

The patients are being attended by the ordinary medical staff. On Thursday   night they were visited by Mrs. H.Wright wife of the Infirmary Chaplin, who sang to them. There is accommodation at the Infirmary for nineteen more wounded, and new arrivals are expected at any moment.  The names of the men are Pte. James McDonald 2244. 1st Battalion. Bedfordshires; Gunner Charles Hobson 4891 Royal Field Artillary; Pte.Daniel  Cairncross. 5th Black Watch Territorial Horse; Pte. Robert Dickey 8051  Royal Inskilling Fusiliers; .Pte Jos Dalay 6011. 2nd Battalion Welsh Regiment.  Pte.J.B.Thorne. 1st Dorsetshire Regiment.

Male Ward 6 ~‘The Harry Urmson Hayes Ward named in his memory following his death in Action during the First World War.  Beds for the Wounded Soldiers.

The opening of hostilities found the Board of Management of the Infirmary in the midst of a vast building scheme; but nevertheless 20 beds were  offered to the War Office for instant use. The Board also offered the Parkgate Convalscent Home, and by agreement with the War Office it was  generously taken over by Mr..and the Hon.Mrs.H.N.Gladstone as a Convalscent   Home for soldiers. Mrs Gladstone undertook, at her own expense, considerable improvernents and additions to the home, and carried on the work with  conspicuous success until May, 1919.

When the new Albert Wood wing was opened, and the alterations to the old  wing here completed, the latter, with 120 beds, was reserved for the use of  soldiers, and the number was temporarily added to later by the erection  of marquees in the Infirmary field.

This influx of patients naturally involved greater responsibilities upon  the able Honorary Physicians and Surgeons connected with the institution,  whose skilful help was so invaluable in giving renewed health to those  heroes who served in the front line.

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Copy of part of the Certificate presented by the Army Council  to the Royal Infirmary and signed by Winston Churchili.1920.

Under the direction of Miss. E K Blayney, R.R.C., Lady Superintendent, a total of 11 Officers and 2,200 N.C.O.s and other ranks passed through the  military wards. This was done without any curtailment of the required  accommodation for civilian patients.

An Entertainments Committee, and a Soldiers Comforts Fund raised by voluntary contributions, was very mach appreciated by the soldiers.

Four Sisters and ten nurses, and two visiting Surgeons, left to take up  Naval or Military work, early in 1916 the Secretary joined the forces.  Mr. E.H.Thomas acted as Honorary Secretary, and much valuable help was  given by V.A.D.s and many other supporters of the Infirmary.

The work was accomplished and was recognised by the Army Council in a   letter of thanks to the Board of Management, and many honours were conferred   upon members of the staff. Mr T D Parry, Engineer, called up as a reservist, died on active service.

 Card carried by ex-Service men 1ooking for Work.

Thirty beds were set aside for military patients, and the Board of Management  agreed to undertake the treatment of disabled, discharged soldiers for the Ministry of Pensions, work which continued for a good many years after the war was over.

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War Time Snippets 1914 — 1918.

"Annual Report and Accounts 1914 — 15. Treatment of Sick and Wounded.
The Board of Management have much satisfaction in reporting that since  November 11th, one of the wards in the “Albert Wood Wing” has been constantly occcupied by sick and wounded soldiers of the Expeditionary Force.

Report Book of the Lady Superintendent 6th March 1916
The six nurses we sent to Malta, returned last Thursday morning, their servi:es no longer needed in Malta.

2nd January 1917
The Christmas festivities went off well, the patients especially the soldiers  appear to have had a happy time.

Certificate issued when the Infirmary agreed to employ disabled ex-servicemen, this was part of a scheme introduced because of the number of wounded military personal who were unable to return to their own trades following their discharge from the armed forces.

Copy of a plan of Roman Burials on the Infirmary Field, and the  outline of part of the ground floor of the Infirmary showing   the location of wards.

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Roman Burials.

During work in 1858 and and again in 1871 there were reports of the finding  of Roman remains and relics, when work was carried out in 1912-14 for the laying of drains etc, a number of Roman graves were discovered, the material found included the remains of nine skeletons, as well as  Roman vessels and coins.

The finding of five coins of Antoninus Pius 138-161 AD and one of Commodus, the latter being about 189 A.D. points oonclusively to the  interments having taken place at the close of the second century, or at   the begining of the third century A.D..

Above top grave No.5. clearly showing the tiles which were placed vertically  at the sides and ends,the glass vessel on the right was found in this grave.   below left Roman lamp found in grave no.4., on the right three vessels found in grave No.19.

Professor Newstead and Dr.Elliott supervised the clearing of the soil and  opening of many of the graves, in some cases blocks of sandstone had been  used to protect the graves, some roofing tiles used bore the stamp of the legion.

At the foot of one grave were the remains of three bulbous shaped surface covered vessels of superior workmanship, the remains of a pair of sandals and a small glass bottle. The latter had been carefully covered by a layer fine river silt. One of the vessels contained the burnt bones of a small mammal., and a quauntity of charcoal.

One of the most interesting of the finds was grave No.27. which contained  the skeleton of a female aged about 25 years, the skeleton extended on its back; arrms at the side; skull turned on the right side. Orientation E and W,  head east. The grave was a plain rectangular pit. Floor thinly sprinkled with finely broken tiles. Depth from the land surface to the floor of the  grave was 4ft. Superstructure an irregular mass of sandstone blocks   (burrs) one foot above the skeleton on the north aide only.

In the grave were also the fragments of a glass vessel, nails, sandals, lamp, bone pin, and a coin found on the lower jaw, which had most probably been placed in the nouth of the deceased female, possibly in the belief that it would be used in payment to cross the Styx. (Gk Myth) River of Hades over which Charon ferried the shades of the dead.

In all some thirty four or more Roman burials have been found on the Infirmary site, during the years excavation in order to extend the hospital. This  has helped to improve our knowledge of the Romans during their occupation  of the garrison city of Chester.

With the closure of the Royai Infirmary it is likely that a great deal of  the site will be cleared for tuture developement, and. it is likely that further finds of Roman origin will be found when such work is carried out.

Father Christmas  and Royal British Legion Queen at the Infirmary.
                             Date not Known.

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Pathological and Other Departments:—

Mr.G.W.Hayes a benefactor who made many gifts to the Infirmary, presented   the first Pathological Laboratory in 1907. In 1922 this was replaced by  a more modern department which was equipped in memory of Dr.John Elliott,  one of the hospital’s senior honorary physicians. By 1925 this department  was undertaking’ bacteriological and chemical examinations, Wassermann   reactions, sections of tissue, autopsies and other work which had previously     been outside the scope of the hospital’s facilities.    1924 also saw the formation of a Gynaecological department, in 1951 a  Psychiatric Clinic, 1957 an Orthopaedic department, other years saw other  new developements which were all to advance the medical and surgical   history of Chester Royal Infirmary.

 Aerial View of the Infirmary showing the site of new operating theatre’s.

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1917 - 1950’s

Between 1917 anf 1922 special provision was made for the treatment of  venereal disease’s, also during this period it was possible to form new  Orthopaedic, X-Ray and Pathology departments, and to open a new Children’s ward and Almnoner’s department.

In 1923 the Humberston wing was enlarged, and branches of medicine which  flourished at Chester Royal Infirmary included the Orthoptic department  which was set up on the recommendation of the Ophthalmic Surgeons in 1936.

Pathology also flourished at the Infirmary mainly due to the influence of  the well known Home Office Pathologist for the area, Dr.W.H.Grace, who was   in charge of the department for many years.

Visit of the Duke and Duchess of York. 1931

On the 26th March 1931 there was great excitement at the Royal infirmary as everyone awaited the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of York. The reason for their visit was the opening of the new block which consisted   mainly of three operating theatre’s and pathological department, which had  been erected as a public thanksgiving for the recovery of H.M. King George V  from a serious illness. The new block which formed an extension of the   “Albert Wood Wing” which had been opened by the King in March 1914 as a  memorial to King Edward VII.

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Proposed expansion of the hospital 1939

The Annual Report for the year ending 31st December 1958 contained a sketch of the Royal Infirmary showing how the Board of Managemerit saw the hospital of the future, a competition was held for the proposed buildings of the  Infirmary.

Architectural  Competition for the Proposed Hospital Buildings for Chester Royal Infirmary

11th January 1939 - The scheme generally comprises of:-
Section 1
New Out-patients, Casualty Block and Venereal Desease ‘s Clinic, Eeconstruction of Laundry and Boiler House, Rearrangement of Administrative Department and Improved facilities for Kitchen, Dining Rooms and Storage.

Section 2.
Wards for Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Cases, Orthopaedic Wards, Wards for Private Patients, Mortuary and Post Mortem Department, Extensions of  Nurse’s Home and adaptions of existing OutPatients Department to special purposes.

Prizes :—

Three Prizes consisting of:
First — £500.       Second — £200.  Third — £100.

The competition was announced in the Annual Report of 31st December 1938  and details of the competition issued for the 11th January 1939. Unfortunatley war was once again on the horizion.

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The Second World War

The Second World War began on the 1st September 1939 with Germany's invasion of Poland. In 1938 Germany had annexed Austria and following the Munich agreement, occupied the Sudeten District of Czechoslovakia. The rest of Czechoslovakia was seized in March 1939. This aggressive policy of the German National Socialist Government headed by Adolf Hitler, led to Britian,   France and Poland making an agreement of mutal assistance in August 1939.   The Russo — German Non—Aggression Pact of August 1939 freed Adolf Hitler to make war on the west.

Snippets from the Second World War Years:—

Valentine Dance in Aid of the Royal Infirmary.

A report in the Chester Chronicle of Saturday 17th February I940 told how, One Hundred and Seventy Five people attended the Valentine Dance in aid of   Chester Royal Infirmary, held at Quaintway’s Chester on Wednesday. The  Quaintway’s Band played, and a cabaret was provided by pupils of the Charlotta Kendrick School of Dancing. The Darts Competition was won by Miss. Lena Fellow, and the competition for a pheasant was won by Mr. Greenway. Dancing continued until I.30 a.m.. Mr. Stanley Brickland was the M.C..

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Saturday 30th March 1940. Annual Report of the Board of Management.
Reservation of Beds.

The Annual Report of the Board of Management included the following details.
Patients Admitted during each of the last Six Years.
Patients Admitted


The Second World War

On government instructions, when war broke out, the bed accommodation was considerably increased above the normal capacity by making temporary  use of all available space. Eigthy Five patients were sent home and the   admission of civilians was limited to acute and urgent cases.    These emergency measures were carried out by the staff with admirable speed and efficiency, and were in preparation for the large number of casualties due to enemy action which was generally expected all over the country.  In consultation with the Ministry of Health and local authorities,  restrictions were gradually removed and in November the normal complement  of beds in both the general and private wards was again put into service.  Throughout the emergency period, civilian and service patients were received.

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20th February 1941. - Eggs for Chester Royal Infirmary.  To the Editor of the Chronicle. from HUGH FROST

Sir — For many years past, it has been the custom for Chester Royal Infirmary to make a public plea for new laid eggs at this time of the year when supplies are plentiful. As Chairman of the Hospital I find myself this year in somewhat of a quandary: so much so that I hesitate to mention the very word “ in public, and yet I should be failing in my duty to our patients were I to refrain from doing so now.

I know, as we all know only to well, how very scarce eggs are in these  troublous days. Yet despite this knowledge, I make so bold as to ask  our many friends once again to do their best on the hospitals behalf.  Precious as eggs are, they are doubley so to the hospital because of their  special food value for patients, it is therefore on our patients behalf   that I ask you to help us by publishing this letter.

Gifts of eggs should be addressed to the Matron, and will be most gratefully  acknowledged

Your faithfully

HUGH FROST. Chairman of the Council of Management. Chester Royal Infirmary. 1941

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Chester Chronicle 15th March 1941.-  Chester Infirmary Changes.- Assistant Matron Underwoods Appointment.

Miss.S,M.Underwood.SRN.SCM. Assistant Matron Chester Royal Infirmary has  been appointed Matron of the Newark Town and District Hospital and Dispensary.

April 1941.New Assistant Matron.

Miss.Crace.M.Bowler.SRN.SCM. Senior House Sister at the General Hospital Nottingham, has been appointed Assistant Matron Chester Royal Infirmary.

The Dreaded Weed.

Today smoking is banned throughout the hospital, this was not always  the case, between 1938 and 1941 the Royal Infirmary held a tabacco Dealer’s Licence for the sale of tabacco and snuff at the Infirmary.  Today smoking is regarded as one of the main causes of disease‘s of the heart, lungs and circulatory system.

Treatment of Military Personal.

Above is an example of the type of form which was filled in when members of the Force ‘s, Police or Air Raid Protection Officers, were treated at the Chester Royal Infirmary, in this case a Merchant Seaman was treated for an injured middle finger. Mr Aston gives his address as 21 Henry Street, Newtown, Chester. This was one oone of the small streets of terraced house’s which were destroyed in the 1950‘s to make way for the high rise flats which can be seen in Newtown today.

Chester Chronicle 1st January 1941. - Christmas Festivities in Chester Royal Infirmary.

Festivities began at the Royal Infirmary on Christmas Eve with Carol  singing in the wards by the hospital staff under the direction of   Canon.A.Baxter. Father Christmas went around the next morning distributing National Savings Greeting Cards to each patient and toys to the Children.

The Major and Mayoress (alderman and Mrs W Matthews-Jones) visited the  Infirmary on the same day, accompanied by the Sheriff and Mrs. Stanley Dutton. A group of children brought presents for the children’s ward  from the Chester Children’s Festivities Committee.

Christmas dinner consisted of turkey, goose, vegetables, and plum pudding.   The Doctor’s and Sister’s dined at 7 p.m.. Nurse’s on duty lunched and had tea in their own wards as they did on Sunday and Tuesday. They had their Christmas dinner with the night nurse’s on Boxing Day.

The domestic and porter’s staff’s had their Christmas dinner on Tuesday. The Salvation Army Band played in the Infirmary on Sunday, and on the  previous Wednesday they sang carols outside the buiiding. There was more caroling indoors when the Cathedral lay clerks and ohoristers  toured the wards, singing as they went from one to another. This (Friday) night there will be a fancy dress dance at the Nurse’s Home.

Chester Chronicle Saturday 22nd April 1944.  Penicillin used for the first time.

 Mr H K Frost; presiding over the Annual meeting of the Chester Royal Ihfirmary on Thursday, announced that penicillin was used in tne   Infirmary for the first time that day.

Chester Chronicle Saturday 5th May 1944.    New Barrowmore Sanitorium - "1940s Blitz Recalled" - Chester Royal Infirmary Help Acknowledged

The new sanatorium at the East Lancashire Tubercolsis Colony Barrowmore Hall, near Chester to replace the buildingthat was destroyed by an air raid on the 29th November 1940, 18 patients and 2 members of the staff were killed - was opened by Sir Arthur Abrahams, CBE, Vice Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Joint Red Cross and St johns War Organisation on Wednesday. Sir William Coates, Committee Chairman thanked  Chester Royal Infirmary, who took in all the wounded, treated them most carefully and well and did not accept any remuneration..

Cheeter Chronicle 16th December 1944.   The Christmas Appeal.- To the Editor of the ‘Chester Chronicle”.

Sir — I shall be grateful if you would make known our earnest need at the Chester Royal Infirmary for Christmas Gifts for the many patients who will be spending the season with us. I feel there is every reason for a special effort to be made this time because we have many wounded servicemen spending Christmastide with us as patients in addition to our civilian patients and  a ward full of children. - N.Steele. Matron.   December 12th 1944.

Royal Infirmary Council of Management Committee. Extracts from the minutes ef Meetings.

4th July 1944 - Sister.M.S.Boumphrey children’s ward sister resigned after twenty three and a half years service at the hospital.

5th June 1945 -   Miss .Grace.M. Bowler. Assistant Matron for four years resigned in order to take up an appointment as Matron at the General Hospital Boston, to commence on the 1st August 1945.

January 1946.  Mr.Rowse Mitchell retired after twenty six years service as Secretary of the infirmary.

6th January 1948 -  The Chairman reported that Canon Aubrey Baxter, M.A Chaplain to the Infirmary  has been awarded the M.B.E. in the New Year Honours  in  recognition of his services to the City of Chester and   Infirmary.

Chester Chronicle. Saturday 31st March 1945 - Appreciation of Service Patient’s  Treatment and Care.
The Chester Royal Infirmary House Committee at their meeting on Tuesday had a visit from Major. A.Parker. Miltary Registrar. Mr T Ketland (Deputy Chairman) was in the chair.  Major Parker stated that he had come in person to the Infirmary to express his appreciation of the treatment and care given to the members of the services who were patients at the Chester Royal Infirmary.

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Chester Chronicle Saturday 28th April 1945 - Review the Years Work. 50% of beds taken up by war casualties.
Mr. Hugh.K.Frost, Chairman of the council Of Management of the Chester Royal Infirmary, reviewed the years work when he presided at the annual meeting held on Thursday. He covered all aspects of the work. The work during the year had been diverted from its normal course by the admission of convoys of service casualties from oversea’s. For several weeks before D Day arrangements were made and the first convoy arrived not many days after the attack was launched.  It was a fine tribute to the efficiency of the staff that half an hour after the arrival of the convoy of stretcher cases every man was in bed and receiving a hot supper. Until by the close of the year up to half the beds were occupied by service casualties.

Chester Chronicle 19th January 1946. Mr Rowese Mitchell's Retirement - Loyal Service for 26 years 1920-46.
No hospital, has had a more loyal or devoted servant than Mr.Rowse Mitchell. He was appointed Secretary of the Chester Royal Infirmary in 1919, and during those years has seen many changes, many developments, and the work considerably increased.

The Almoner ‘s Department
 The Almoner’s Department was responsible for all of the records of both  the InPatient’s and the Outpatient’s at the Royal Infirmary. The Office for outpatients was situated just inside the old outpatients entrance in Bedward Row.

Prior to the se4ting up of the National Health Service all the new Outpatient’s were interviewed by the Aimoner, and those who did not belong to a “ Penny in the Pound” scheme were asked, circumstances permitting to contribute towards the cost of their treatment.

The amount charged was usually only a few pence, but in those days this was quite a lot to the very poorly paid. Three shillings was about the upper limit that was charged. By the end of the 1940s the patients records had outgrown the rather small room and part of the waiting room was partitioned off to make a larger Almomers Office.

The Almoner ‘s Department Staff in January 1946.
Front Row.L to R — Bill Bowley, Rowse Mitchell (Hospital Secretary),
Roy Graver. Dorothy Charles (Almoner).

Rear Row .L to H — Beryl. Musselle. Margaret Garcia. Joyce Williams,
Wendy Anderton

Chester Chronicle 11th January 1947.  New Appointments System  for Infirmary Outpatient’s.

An appointment system for outpatients attending the Ear, Nose and Throat  Clinic ‘s at the Royal Infi~rinary has been in operation since last October.

It was usual before then for all the patient’s to arrive at the same time, which resulted in some patient’s having to wait up to two hours to be seen. It is now  possible to form an opinion as to the success of the experiment.  A number of patient ‘s have been asked what they think of the new system,  and their answer’s have been without exception, that it is a “great  improvement’.

Chester Chronicle Saturday 25th January 1947.Workman’s Life saved By Iron Lung.  Found Unconscious in 15 Inches Of Water.

An Iron Lung at Chester Royal Infirmary has been used to revive a Chester man who was knocked unconscious when he fell into a culvert yesterday (Thursday) and lay in 15 inches of water. He is Gerrard Madigan, lodging at 7 Brook Street, Chester, who is employed by a building contractor.

Madigan was taking a short cut to his work across the culvert which runs into the River Dee off Sealand Road. He was seen lying unconsious in the water by another workman Patrick Rooney of Egerton Street, Chester, who lifted him out. At the Infirmary the Iron Lung soon brought him   round and he was taken to one of the wards..

Madigan was found to be suffering from head injuries, and it has since been discovered that there are spinal injuries as well. His condition at the time of going to press was stated to be “fair”. It is to the Iron Lung that ?hdigan almost certainly owes his life.

Note:-    Gerrard Madigan died on the 4th February through damage to his spinal cord.

Chester Chronicle Saturday 1st February- 1947. Deeside Hospital Council. Year Grant Amounts to £30,000.

The Chester Royal Infirmary has received a grant of £15,000 from the Deeside Hospital Council. This is the final grant for 1946 and brings the total received during the year to £30,000, which is the largest sum so far given in one year to the Royal Infirmary by the Deeside Hospital Council.

The total received by the Chester Royal Infirmary from the Deeside Hospital Council since its inception is now £256,000. The Council of Managmant of the Chester Royal Infirmary have expressed their great appreciation and would like to thank all contributors for the support they have given to the hospital by their efforts.

Chester Chronicle Saturday 9th August 1947.   Children’s Aid for the Royal Infirmary.

During the past week Chester Royal Infirmary has received donations from  two groups of children. Tony Roberts, Stephen Thomas, Phillip Campey and Derrick Harris held an “exhibition” at 25 Liverpool Road and gave the  Royal Infirmary £6 : 14s : 0d.   Sonia Lomas, Sheila Hughes and Margaret Williams sold children’s papers to their friends in Salisbury Street and gave the Infirmary 7s : 6d.   The Chairman of the Management of the Royal Infirmary said they greatly   appreciate the kind thoughts and help from these small friends.

1949 British Legion Queen in Ward One (Male).

The Royal British Legion, is a membership organisation of British ex—service men and women, founded in 1921 by the amalgamation of four ex-service societies, which united to form one national organisation under tne leadership of Field Marshall Earl Haig, its first president.

The British Legion is democratic, non—political and non—sectarian, and  membership is open to all British (or naturalised) men and women who  served in the forces. Its purpose is to assist all ex—service men and women, their widows and dependants, in pension matters, to relieve  distress, to find employment, and re—establish them on their return to civilian life. The legion also supports a number of other things including visits to members in hospital, and donations to hospitals.

At the Table in the Chapel at the Royal Infirmary.

The original plans of the General Infirmary show that there was a chapel on the first floor, in the improvements made in 1830 the plans show the Chapel in its location which was so well known to both staff and patients  up to the closure of the hospital.

Chester Chronicle of Saturday 4th August 1945 Canon Baxter performs first christening

reported that Canon Baxter had performed what was believed to be the first christening in the Infirmary  that week, when he christened Cynthia Brooke Kendrick, the daughter of Mr.J.C.Kendrick, a porter on the staff of the Infirmary. Before her  marriage Mrs.Kendrick was also employed at the hospital.

Chester Chronicle 3rd January 1948. - M.B,E. Award for Infirmary Patient’s Friend. Canon Aubrey Baxter in the New Year’s Honour’s.

No honour has ever been more welcome than the award of the M,B.E. in the  New Year’s Honour’s list to Canon Aubrey Baxter. He has been chaplain to Chester Royal Infirmary since 1926 and has established a record by  the length of his service to Chester Cathedral. He became Minor Canon of the Cathedral in 1900, having been ordained deacon in 1896.   Canon Baxter is known and loved by thouaands of people who have had occasion to spend any time in the Chester Royal Infirmary. There rarely passes a night when he does not tour the wards in the Infirmary with a cheery word for all the patient’s. He collects all the letters, and personally posts them at the Station. His physical agility and mental alertness belie his years. He confesses that he has worn out six bicycles and lost count of those he ‘borrowed”.

The advantage of being the Infirmary Chaplain Canon Baxter, explained was that the congregation was found, and there could be no excuse for  not attending. ‘Once a patient did pretend to be asleep" said Canon Baxter ”but I waited a bit, and his cup Of tea began to get cold, so he had to wake up".

Childrens ward Stained Glass Windows

The stained galss windows on the Children’s ward have been admired for  many years. The three windows, Morning, Noon, and Night, could be seen over the balcony doors, and the window’s depicting the Cottage and Windmill  were situated over a door on the left looking down the ward.

The ward was later altered when a small recovery room was built at the end the ward, this meant that Morning and Noon could be seen in the main ward; and the night scene of a child praying in the recovery room.

The window’s depicting the day of a child on the ward, in the morning play with a favourite toy, noon brought dinner and we see the child eating, and so we come to night and time to say prayer’s.

The window’s depicting a cottage and windmill probably remind children about happy days in the summer, or prehaps holiday ‘a spent in the country or on a toxin. One thing we can be sure of is that the window’s made  the ward seem more friendly to the young patients.

The Childrens ward c 1940 showing the rthree stained galss windows old fashioned childfrens beds rocking horse and miniture table and chairs.

The Visit of HM Queen Elizabeth and HRH Prince Phillip to the Royal Infirmary 11th July 1957.

The guard of honour of nursing staff from the Royal Infirmary and City Hospital lined the Infirmary Drive for the arrival of their Majesties Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. After formal presentations, the Royal visoitors went round the childrens ward where they met Sister E Davies; then on to the Ward XI where the Queen expressed interest in the portable telephone; on Ward 8 their majesties met Sister E Moore. Both the Queen and Prince Phillip stopped to chat to several patients.

Matron Brown and Col Marsden, Chairman of the Hospital Board escort Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth up the Drive lined by hospital staff.
Queen Elizabeth II visits Chester Royal Infirmary  1957
During their visit to the operating theatre their Majesties signed the visiting book. A Large photograph of the Queen in evenuing dress and one o fthe prince in nava uniform had been purchased for the Hall of the new Outpatients department. They very graciously signed these and shook handss with Sister R White, Theatre Superintendent. Finally the Queen and Phillip went ot wartd I where Sister M Church had an opportunity of talking to them. Here the Quenn was interested in the photograph of her Grandfather King George V pressing a button to declare the Albert -Wood Wing open in 1914.

1963 - H.R.H. Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent Opens the new Outpatient’s Department .

Following the Royal Visit in 1557 when their Majesties Queen Elizabeth II  and Prince Phillip visited the Infirmary, life continued at its usual  hectic pace. By 1961 work had started on the new outpatients department  which replaced the old one in Bedward Row.

The new Outpatients Department

The new Outpatients Department consisting of a new entrance, reception,  waiting area, clinic’s, ambulance coiitrol room, pharmacy and buffet bar  was an immediate success. During the late 1920’s, 1950’s and early 1940’s   the Outpatient’s department was handling up to 20,000 patient’s a year,  by 1992 the Outpatient’s clinic’s were dealing with over 110,000 patient’s
a year [and by 2002 there were 200,000 per year and rising].

There were also changes in the hours and working conditions for both the nursing and domestics staff, new training schemes were introduced and by 1992 Project 2000 was being introduced.

From 1990 the moving of departments and wards from the Royal Infirmary to  the Countess of Chester Hospital became noticeable, and there was a sense of sadness about the outside of the Infirmary buildings, which were now looking a little neglected, while it was on the inside that the empty locked wards made you realise that the days of Chester Royal Infirmary finally seemed to be coming to the end.



When Chester General Infirmary was founded in 1755, the status of the  medical profession in this country was low. Although Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh Universities awarded medical degree’s there was no enforced legislation to forbid the practise of medicine and surgery but  unqualified person’s. In fact, anyone who wished to call himself doctor  could do so with the result that qualified men had to compete with a  large number of quacks.

The first medical staff at the Infirmary were four honourary physicians  and surgeons and a paid “House Apothecary”, The statutes of 1765 did  not specify any medical qualifications but physicians and surgeons were  required to attend the Infirmary at certain laid down times.

By 1815 the 1765 statutes had been amended and it was now required that physicians eligible for office should be fully qualified and medical  graduates of Oxford, Cambridge, Dublin, Edinburgh or Glasgow. As yet no formal qualifications were laid down for surgeons for it was still  common practise to learn surgery by serving an apprenticeship, however, Chester Infirmary required that the “House Surgeon and Apothecary” as  he was now called, must “Bring testimonials of moral conduct, of having served five years to a surgeon or surgeon and apothecary, or three years in some public hospital, and of having attended at least one course of lectures on anatomy, surgery, and the practise of physician and pharmaceutical chemistry”.

Dr. John Haygarth 1740 — 1827.

One of the most outstanding medical practitioners of his time, educated at  Sedburgh School in Yorkshire and St.John’s College, Cambridge. Dr.John  Haygarth was appointed physician at Chester General Infirmary in 1767  and stayed until 1793.

His special interest was the prevention of smallpox and the treatment of fever patient’s, his work attracted widespread interest. In 1774, he conducted a population census in Chester, which included questions about typhus fever and smallpox, his paper “Observations on the Population  and Disease in Chester in 1774”, was read by the Royal Society in 1777.

Dr. Haygarth advocated the removal of poor fever patients to separate fever wards, He was responsible for converting an attic storey in 1784  for the reception of fever patients. This was the first fever ward in the country, in 1750, a sedan chair was purchased to carry fever patients  into the Infirmary.

Mainly as a result of the work of Dr. Haygarth, a Smallpox Society was  formed in 1778, with the aim of promoting inoculation and preventing  the casual smallpox in Chester. This was so successful that by 1782,  the number of deaths from casual smallpox had been reduced by almost half, later both Leeds and Liverpool followed Chester’s example.

In 1753, he published a “Sketch of a Plan to Exterminate the Casual Small pox from Great Britain and to Introduce General Inoculation”, which was dedicated to the King. Dr. Haygarth was at the peak of his fame, having established a national and international reputation, He corresponded with top men of his day; whilst his earlier “Inquiry how to Prevent the Small Pox’ was translated into French and German and attracted universal attention.

Dr. Daniel Orred. 1780.

In “Medical Commentaries” for the year 1780 Dr.Daniel Orred’s name appear’s, in an article reffering to his “A Succesful Method of Cure, in Diseases of the Larger Joints, which have hitherto been thought to require Amputation”. He explains his treatment of a Miss. Lightfoot of Hoole, two miles from Chester who was troubled by a knee condition; which he treated by the utility of blisters, and tell how “The part was every day dressed with a digestive ointment made strong with the powder of cantharides”, he then tells how after a few months she was restored in some measure to the use of her leg.
Dr .Cummings 1820s.

During the 1820’s Dr.Cummirig set out in detail the duties of an efficient and conscientious ~Chester Infirmary House Surgeon:—
7.OO a.m. Rise. Receive nurse’s report’s.
8.00 a.m. zreakfast.
9.00am to 11.03 a.m. Visit patients; being at the rate of two minutes of time, upon an average for each patient.
11.00 am. to 1.00 p.m. Accompany the physicians and surgeons on their rounds, superintend dressings, etc.
1.00 to 3.00 p.m. Attend in the shop or laboratory to assist in the compostion of medicines.
3.00 to 4.00 p.m. Exercise.
4.00 to 5.00 p.m  Dinner.
5.00 to 7.00 p.m. Draw up sketches of all cases admitted for the  consideration of the physicians and surgeons.
7.00 to  9.00 p.m.    Visit patients.
9.00 to 11.00 p.m.     Supper, followed by professional reading.

For working some sixteen hours per day following the duties set out by Dr. Cumming the House Surgeon was paid £60 per year. Although it seems unlikely that the House Surgeon kept strictly to Dr.Cumming ‘s exhaustive time table, by 1858 there were frequent complaints and resignations  from House Surgeons on the grounds of too much work and too little money.

The Board of Management raised the salary of the House Surgeon’s to £80  per year, and later introduced an apprenticeship scheme whereby the apprentice ‘s were “entitled to see the medical and surgical practise of the institution”; to be instructed in his profession by the House Surgeon and provided with board and lodgings in the establishment. For these priviledges the apprentice’s each paid the Infirmary the sum of 300 guinea’s.

At first the training of these students of medicine was rudimentary and one of Dr.Cumming’s surgical colleagues stressed the need for better and more scientific teaching. One of his suggestions was the need for course’s of Anatomical lectures, “for the sole foundation of all medical and sugical knowledge”. He emphasised that these lectures must be pract ical and include demonstation and di-section, this was at a time when  the dissection of human cadavers was legal.

These were the days of macabre deeds carried out by the resurrectionist and the body snatchers, in particuiary Burke and Hare of Edinburgh who in 1827 murdered thirty persons in order to sell their bodies to the surgeons. This so incensed the public opinian that in I832 the government were forced to pass the Anatomy Act which permitted unclaimed bodies to go to medical schools.

The Infirmary records for the first hundred years of its history contain the names of many early physicians and surgeons,anf among these distinguished men are Dr, Haygarth, Dr. Daniel Orred, and Dr.Cumming.

Dr.W.M.Thackery. 1798 - 1827

Dr.W.M.Thackery is another name worthy of mention. cousin of the novelist,  he was greatly interested in medical education and it was through his generosity that the Infirmary Library was founded.
Mr Griffith Rowlands. 1785 — 1828.

Mr.Griffith Rowlands, was one of the most renowned of the early surgeons of the hospital. He came to Chester from Saint Bartholomew’s in 1785 and served at the Infirmary for forty three years, During this time he had many interesting cases and was one of the few who took the time  and trouble to publish his results. The operation that added most to his reputation was that of sawing the ends of the bone in the case of ununited fracture of the thigh.

Dr.Cumming 1804 — 1863.

Dr. Cumming, has left abundant evidence of his tireless efforts for the improvement of the hospital. He was one of the most ardent reformers of his time and his idea’s were vividly and often vitriolically committed to paper for the benefit of posterity.

Dr.Cumming wrote at length about the faulty administration and bad design of the Infirmary, and made many suggestions as to ways of improving these and adding to the comfort of the patients.

Dr.Edward Waters.

Dr.Edward Waters, who died in 1890 is another example of the medical  pioneers of the time. Beesides holding advanced idea’s on the training of nurses he did much to improve the status of his own profession.

In 1887 an illuminated testimonial was given to him by the Lancashire  and Cheshire branch of the British Medical Association in gratitude for his devoted work in the interest of the medical proffèssion.

The days when nurse’s were merely regarded as servants have long since gone, today nursing is recognised in its own right as a professional  career, which requires a long period of training in order to obtain qualifications which are internationally recognised.

In the early days of the Chester General Infirmary the nurse of 1763  expected to earn a salary of £4 per year, by 1862 nurse’s were  extremely hard to recruit and the Infirmary was forced to offer as much  as 5s : 6d a week or £14 : 6s : 0d  a year for a senior nurse, whilst the junior nurse received 4s : 6d a week or £11 per year.


The first mention of training for nurse’s appears in the 1867 records of the Infirmary, and again in 1873 when the Board discussed the training of nurse’s, and at this time laid down a number of conditions about age and salaries of nurse ‘s.

Nurses Pay

After twelve months training at the Infirmary  a nurse could expect a salary of £20 per year, and by 1901 the Board of Management Bye-law laid down that “ the salary of each nurse shall  commence at £20 per year with an increase of £1 per annum up to £30.

Nurse’s pay continued to be very low, Fifty years later in 1956 a student   nurse could expect to earn £240 — £265 (less £115 for Board and Lodging,  a Staff Nurse £385 — £485 (less £143 and a sister £450-£475 (less £143). Hours of work were 48 hours a week for day nurse’s and 96 hours a fortnight for those on night duty.
Towards Professsional Nurse registration 1919

1919 saw a major development whan the Nurse’s Registration Act and the formation of the General Nurses Council. This was to supervise the State Examinations and Registration of Nurse’s which becarne compulsory in 1924. And in 1922 Chester Royal Infirmary was officially  approved by the General Nursing Council as a training school for nurse’s.


Progress in both medical and surgical fields meant that there was much for the trainee nurse to learn, and training alternated between practical  work on the wards and. time in the school of nursing. The young nurse had to acquire experience in nursing both men and women in surgical and medical wards, obstetrics or gynaecology and sick children.

There was also experience to be gained in some special departments such as  the operating theatre, casualty, out—patients, geriatric assessment unit,  orthopaedic nursing, ophthalmology, ear, nose and throat diseases or  psychiatry, and to learn about the importance of dietetics in the treatment of sick people.

By the 1920’s the Infirmary Board of Management had appointed a well  qualified sister tutor to bring nurse’s up to the standard required for the state examinations, and a system of training was’ evolved in cooperation with other hospitals in the area.

At this time the Board of Management also took steps to improve the status  and conditions of work of the nurse’s they employed. Hours of work were  reduced, salaries were increased and much closer attention was paid to the nurse ‘s well being and comfort than it had been in previous years.


      Matron. S.M. Lewis and Sister. S. Bebbirigton checking reports.

Further improvements in the training programme and residential and recreational facilities provided for the nurse’s were made in the early 1950’s. The establishment of pretraining school accepting seventeen year olds was another of the improvements made.

The course for the State Registered nurse’s Certificate started with three  months practical training on each of the wards. Each year during training    nurses spent six weeks back in school in order to prepare for the hospital and state examinations.

The rigid discipline of the past was replaced by a far better understanding of the need for leisure and recreation, more thought was given to the comfort of the nurses and their accommodation, the nurses home was  remodernised in 1955 with the installation of central heating, comfortable bedrooms, television and attractive accommodation for entertaining visitors.

Student nurses of the 1950s would normally work an average of 84 hours per fortnight. Leave was four weeks annual leave during the first and  second years of training, increasing to five weeks during the third year,   these holidays were taken on fixed dates in order to fit into the hospital training schedule.

Each nurse was expected to complete a trial period of eight weeks. During  this period their services could be terminated if they were considered to be unsuitable in any respect, or the nurse finding that hospital life  did not suit her could leave at her own request.

It would be impossible in a book such as this to mention all of the Doctor’s, Matron’s, Sister’s and Nurse’s, who over the past two hundred and thity eight years have helped to build the reputation which the Chester Royal Infirmary so richly deserves..

This reputation and the high standard’s of nursing and care have continued through the eighteenth and nineteenth century into the twentieth  century, thanks to the dedicated work of today’s Physician’s, Surgeon’s, and Nursing staff, backed by the Administration staff, Domestic and  Porting staff this reputation of service,continued up to the closure of  the infirmary. Many, many thousands of people will in the future look back with happy memories, but also with a touch of sadness at the closure of the hospital within the city walls.
The Operating Theatres at CRI.

During the past two hurdred years there have been many changes in the  operating theatre’s at the Royal Infirmary, in the old block the former theatre was enlarged, reconstructed and furnished in memory of Richard Tidswell. M.A. of Bank House. Heswall by his wife in 1904.

The Finley theatre was named after Mrs. Helen Finley. 6 Hunter Street. Chester. Who bequeathed £3,000 which was allocated to the King George Thanksgiving Fund in 1929.

The James Taylor theatre was situated below the theatre which later bore  his name, and was erected by his widow and family as a memorial to the  late James Taylor .FRCS .JP and as a small tribute to his unbounded  skill and devotion to the cause of suffering humanity. He was connected  with the Infirmary for 40 years. During the greater part of that time  as senior hononary surgeon. The operating theatre was furnished by the Chester and District Working Mans Hospital Saturday Committee 1914 and  1927, and by the Deeside Voluntary Hospitals Council 1931.

On the 26th March 1931 the Duke and Duchess of York, opened the new block which consisted of mainly three operating theatres and a pathological  department, these theatre’s were still functioning in 1971, then in 1974 alterations were made to bring the theatre’s more up to date, then  in 1978 more changes were made which resulted in the opening of a fourth theatre, changing rooms, offices, rest room, and a patient’s recovery area.

Normally the theatre’s carry out Gynaecology, Orthpaedic, General, Pain Relief, Maxillo Facial Operations, with emergency theatre staff dealing with gynaecology cases Monday to Friday until 8 p.m., after  which cover is provided by staff from the Countess of Chester  Hospital who also provide cover at a weekends.

During the year April 1991 to March 1992 a total of 6,056 listed operations  were performed, there were also 571 emergency operations carried out,  making a total of 6,621 operaüons performed during the one year at the Infirmary.
 Nurse Linda Cameron repairs a cast in the Plaster Clinic.

The Orthopaedic Department.

The Orthopaedic Clinic is one of the busiest departments in the hospital dealing with up to 200 patient’s a days the department deals with trauma and accident cases, InPatients and OutPatients of all ages from babies with congenital conditions to the elderly.

The department also provides a followup procedure for patients after  knee, hip and small joint replacement surgury, and for patients being  treated for fractures and soft tissue damage.

The ciinic also deals with inpatients and outpatients requiring cast or repairs to plaster cast, referral’s from other clinic’s including Rheumatology, Pain Relief, Acupuncture and Surgical Appliance Department.

The Orthopaedic Department in an average year would expect to deal with some 27,363 outpatients.

                   Shimadzu Screening Unit in the X-Ray  Department .1992.

The Radiography Department consisting of five rooms, of these three rooms are used for general x-ray screening, the screening room used for Barium Meal and Venograns is alao equipped with two television monitors, image intensifier and camera capable of taking strip films for screening, there is also equipment in the department for head. and facial x-rays.

The department deals with all patients clinic work and general practitioner referral’s, when needed the department can carry out work on the wards with two mobile x—ray units, plus an image intensifier in the operating theatres

On an average some 22,000 patients visit the departrnent each year, and some of these patients will require a number of x—rays taken in order to give a full picture of their injury or condition.

                               Sister Ann ~wards in one of th• treatmnt rooiu.

The Maxillis Facial — Orthodontic Clinic.

The department provides treatment for those patients who cannot be treated in tne normal dental practice, these patients may require difficult extractions, or suffer from a condition which makes it essential that  they are treated in the department with its specialist facilities, these conditions include, Diabetes, Epilepsy, Heart conditions and need to be carefully monitored during treatment.

The department also deals with post trauma facial injuries which often are the result of a road accident or dog bite, corrective jaw surgury and pioneering work in titanium implants in the jaw and facial prothesis and in which the department is achieving a degree of excellence. Children’s orthodontic treatment is also carried out at the departments clinic ‘s.

During the average year the department would deal with some 13052 outpatients.
                        Staff Nurse Carol Roberts in one of the examination rooms.

Ophthalmology and ENT Department.

This busy department which house’s both the Ophthalmology and Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic’s, covers a large area around Chester, parts of Cheshire, Wirral and Clwyd, the department is time-shared with ophthalmology taking up the greater percent of the time having the majority of clinic’s, which include laser and minor operating sessions every week.

Both the ophthalmology and ENT departments deal with a large number of  emergency , as well as the patients with routine appointments. The clinic’s are run by two ophthalmic trained nurse’s, and during the average year ophthalmology clinic will see 21,840 outpatients, the ENT clinic will deal with some 11388 outpatients during the average year.

                          Exaninat±on Room. General . ut,.~t±ma~t ‘a,

General Outpatient Clinics.

One only has to walk into the reception area of the Infirmary General Outpatient’s Clinics to realize that this is an extremely busy part of the Infirmary. The clinic’s deal with patient’s who may have been referred by their own doctor, or are pre or post operation patients awaiting to  see one of the many consultant’s.

The list of consultant’s with clinics at the Royal Infirmary is impressive and compares well with any hospital in the United Kingdom. These include— three Gynaelcology, four General Surgeons, one Dermatologist, two Ophthalmologists, two Ear, Nose and Throat Consultants, two Genito—Urinary Consultants, four Physician’s, two Geriatrician’s, one Neurologist, one Neuro-surgeon, one Plastic surgeon, all of these consultants hold regular weekly or monthly clinics at the Royal Infirmary. This results in the clinics dealing with some 2,126 patient’s weekly or 110,552 during the average year.
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                                                 Entrance to the Blood Bank Room.

Pathology Department

Today the Pathology Departm.nts work largely consist of the taking of  blood samples and cross matching of blood. Each morning staff from the department visit the wards in order to take blood samples requested by the medical and surgical staff.

Th cross rnatching of blood ensures that a supply of the correct type of blood is available in the operating theatre, a minor operation may  require two units of blood, while; major surgury such as an hip replacement would require four or more units of blood.

The Blood Bank Room where the blood is stored in refrigerated conditions is one of the oldest rooms in the department, it is also the room in which some members of the staff prefer to work with the door kept open .?
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The Pharmacy

For many years the Pharmacy was situated in the Outpatient Department when the entrance was via Bedward Row, with a. Pharmacy store in the basement below Bedward Row. Following the opening of the new Outpatient Department the Pharmacy moved to its location near the clinic’s.

The Pharmacy deals with all the outpatients prescriptions, and the supply  of drugs and medicine for inpatients on the wards, usually after a stay  in the hospital patients are supplied with a weeks supply of their medication by the pharmacy.

The pharmacy also deals with the requirements of a number of other departments and clinics including ENT, Opthalmology, Dermatology, Dental, Gynaecology, Geriatric, Surgical, Orthopaedic and Fracture Clinic, Plastic Surgery, Neurology, Neurosurgury, Radiotherapy, Rheumatology, Psychiatry,  Pain Clinic and Genito-Urinary Clinic.

One of the earliest records of the supply of drugs and medicine’s was to the House of Industry fo the year 1763-64 when the Infirmary presented a bill  for £12 : 12 a 0d for payment to the Guardianes of the House of Industry.
                    View of a section of the Records Department when it was housed in
            Ward 5 at the Cheater Royal Infirmary during 1990 — 1992.

Records Department.

The Infirmary Records Department held some 450,000 patient ‘a rd, great care was taken to ensure that patient’s records could be located quickly for either outpatient clinic's or ward admission at any time.

The first record of OutPatients was started in 1755 and the first InPatients records started in 1756 when the Cheater General Infirmary was housed in the north wing of the Blue Coat School in Northgate Street, today these early  records are carefully looked after at the Chester City Record Office at the  Town Hall Chester.

            Mrs Elizabeth Meredith in the Infirmary Catering Department.

Tasty Yes Very Tasty.

The Infirmary Catering Department prepares meals for both the patients and  staff, in the course of a normal week the kitchen would prepare an average  of 1,330 meals, many of these meals will be diet labeled according to the patients requirements, the labeling system allows both the staff and patient  to decide on a selection of type of meal including “ Reduced, low Fat, Lipid Lowering, Diabetic or Vegetarian, and these may be ordered in small,  normal or large portions.

The meals are varied and a typical weeks menu would include such dishes as  Pork Pie Salad, Turkey and Ham Pie, Lamb Casserole, Vegetable Curry, Vegetable  Hot Pot, Poached Haddock, Fresh Salmon, a variety of soups and white or   brown bread, whilst breakfast is usually Bran Flakes. Porridge, Weetabix  or Muesli. Meals were delivered to the wards in insulated containers in  order to keep the food hot, patients may also request sandwiches or light  meals should they not feel like a full meal following operations or treatment.

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              Joyce Williams  and Joan Salisbury on duty in the League of Friends shop

The League of Friends Shop

The League of Friends, which had been formed in 1960, felt that a League  of Friends Shop would not only be an additional source of income,but would also provide a much needed facility for visitors as many of them travelled  long distances to visit their relatives. The tea bar in the corner of the waiting room had been very useful, but it was a very limited service.

Eventually it was decided that the cleaners locker room next to the waiting   room could be made available, with the very welcome help of grants from the  local Health Authority, the shop selling paperbacks, greetings cards,  confectionery and toiletries as well as light refreshments, opened on the 24th September 1981. Opening hours covered lunchtimes as well as evening  and weekend visiting. Naturally the hospital staff were also welcome  patrons.

Jean Burtinshaw recalls how trade was steady, if not spectacular, but one  Sunday Afternoon we received a tremendous boost when an unfortunate Air Force Cadet, playing football as one of a visiting team at Sealand, broke his leg, and the whole coachload of team and supporters descended on the shop and nearly ran the staff of two off their feet catering for their  teenage appetites, “It’s an ill wind .....““. Today the shop continues  to flourish and by July 1992 the total value of gifts purchased by the  League of Friends was some £34, 615.
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Some stories from the Good Old Days.

Sister Potter in a letter to the “Infirmary Nurse‘s Journal” recalled how  in 1913 "it was a very old building — just four landings, known as Upper  Men, Upper Women, Lower Men and Lower Woman. The sisters had bed-sitting  rooms on the Ward. They were demolished when the alterations were done —   they had no batbroom and the Night Nurse had to fill a tin bath which was  kept under the bed. It was most weird at times; bells ringing and no cords.   We put it down to mice running along the wires?

There were no telephones to the wards; it was a case of whistling 1, 2 3 or 4 as required when I wanted nurse or vice versa. Unfortunately the Cook   had a parrot and , usually when I was taking breakfast, an urgent whistle (not always the same number) end I had to dash to the wards to find on many  occassions it was a false alarm — just Polly.
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1957 Royal Visit.

At the end of the visit of Queen Elizabeth II and H.R.H. Prince Phillip on the 11th July 1957, Col. Marsden. Chairman of the Board and Matron Brown were escorting the Royal visitors up the drive, when Prince Phillip noticed  two nurse’s joining the guard of honour late, having just come off night duty  they were delighted when he retraced his steps to speak to them, shaking  hands with one of the nurse’s before continueing up the drive, she was  heard to say “I will never wash that hand againt’.


Nurse’s On duty on the Orthopaedic Ward, were surprised on a number of occasions,  by a bell ringing during the.night, on investigation it was found to be a  bell in one of the toilets. All the patients  were in bed and no one elese was to be found on the ward.  The same thing occured on a number of occassions and the electricians were informed, only to report that thay could find no faults in the system.

Have you ever had that feelfng that you were being followed ?  A nurse returning toward ward II after visiting the Pathology Departmerrt was going  up the stairs, when she clearly heard someone running up the stairs behind her, thinking’ that someone was hurrying back to one of the other wards    the nurse stood to one side to let the person pass, looking back she    was surprised to find that she was the only person oh the stairs, and yet she could still hear the sound of footsteps dying away in the distance.
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   Was this the table on which Lomas's body was disected in 1812?

Rope Dance.

In her book Rope Dance local author Maureen Nield tells the story of a real  life drama, which took place on the night of the 11th April 1812. Deep in  the Cheshire countryside all was not well.

The tragic love story of Edith Morrey and her lover John Lomas, the murder  of Edith’s husband George Morrey in his own bed at Hanklow near Audlem, and   the trial and execution’s at Chester.

The victim Hanklow farmer George Morrey was murdered by his farm labourer John Lomas, lover of George’s wife Edith. He was caught and sent for trial  before being executed at Chester Gaol, which stood next to the Royal Infirmary on the site which is now the Queen’s School.

John Lomaa was hanged at One O’Clock on Monday 24th August 1812, following  his execution one of the Infirmary’s surgeon’s, Owen Titley, was intimately  involved. Next day the Infirmary Board of Management was informed that the bones had been presented to the Infirmary, and it was ordered that they should  be sent to London “for articulation”.

Edith Morrey found to be "quick with child” after the trial had her death    sentence deferred until April 1813. Her dissection was reported in the  Chester Chronicle account from “Rope Dance”.

The assistant placed the tools of Mr.Titley’s trade close at hand then, having snipped open the canvas shroud, he pulled it aside. This action was repeated with professional precision by his master. But not on canvas.  An incision was made from the throat — just below a, discoloured seam of scar tissue around an old wound — along the line of the sternum.

Next the strokes laid bare the thoracic cavity. After the breast bone itself and part of the rib cage had been sawn through and lifted out, a  perfect view was obtained of the heart, lungs and cardio vascular system.  Finally, using a broader bladed scalpel and forceps, Titley extended the  original incision downwards, opening up The abdominal cavity and exposing  the viscera — et cetera”  Those two words sufficed for what The Chonicle considered unfit to name. Titley then excised the heart, which was sealed  in a jar of alcohol.

Owen Titley died ten years later; suddenly and at a comparatively early age of 42. The interesting question is what became of Edith Morrey’s heart? Was it, like Lomas ‘s bones, given to the Infirmary for teaching  purposes? Or did the surgeon keep it amongst his personal effects 7

Probably the latter. An 1816 history of Chester claimed that the organs in question were at that time still in the possion of Mr.Titley surgeon of this city, This being so, it no doubt passed, on Owen Titley’a death, to his brother because Titley’s hastily made will, handwritten and witnessed by two fellow surgeons, left everything to Edward Titley — a Bridge Street druggist and notable collector of curiosities;
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I have enjoyed the many hours, days and months, which I spent working on this history of Chester Royal Infirmary. My time and material I willingly  give in order to produce a record of a very fine hospital, over the years I have been a patient at the Infirmary, and this gave me an insight to  the care and dedication of all the staff, and would like to say thank you  for allowing me into your clinic’s and departments in order to carry out some of my research.

I would also like to express my thanks to the following without who’s help this book would not have been possible:

The Infirmary Management.
 Mrs.P Moody.
Present and past members of the Infirmary Staff.
Chester City Record Office.
Chester City Library.
Grosvenor Museum Chester.
Chester Chronicle.
Maureen Nield author of “Rope Dance”0
Documents etc referred to:—
The Chester Royal Infirmary Records.
History of Chester. J.Hemirgway.
Adams Weekly Courant 1754.
Journal of the Chester an* North Wales Architectural, Archaelogical and
Historic Society. Vol .47.Miss .H.E.Boulton.
Georgian Chester 1660 — 1857.
Chester Royal Infirmary 1756 — 1956. Miss Enid M Mumford.
Journal of Liverpool Annuals of Archaelogy and Anthropology. Vol. 6.Vol.8.
Chester Newspapers on Microfilm.

And numerous documents and photograph’s loaned by past and present members of the Infirmary Staff. Especially Miss.L.Edwards who loaned documents and edited my notes.


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