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Thread: Cambridge Military Hospital - March 2010

  1. #1
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    Default Cambridge Military Hospital - March 2010


    he Cambridge Hospital was built by Messrs Martin Wells and Co. of Aldershot at a cost of 45,758, and was opened for the admission of patients on Friday 18th July 1879. The hospital was named after HRH The Duke of Cambridge (1819 - 1904) who was the only son of the seventh son of HM George III. He was made a Field Marshall in 1862, and was Commander-in-Chief of the Army from 1856-1895.

    The hospital was originally designed as a series of individual "regimental hospitals" joined by a connecting corridor, with each self-contained to reduce the risk of cross infection. But this system had been discontinued in 1873 before the hospital opened and so it was always run as a single establishment. The architect "proposed that the bricks of the arched roof of the wards shall be perforated, and in connection with flues, through which outlets the heated or ventilated air of the wards shall escape; and the introduction of the external air is provided for by a series of perforated plates of zinc running round the base of the skirting board; and that, moreover, a series of them should likewise run up the centre of the floor for the admission of fresh air into that part of the chamber; and in order to prevent the apertures from in these horizontal plates being obstructed by dust, as well as to guard against fluid during the washing of the ward finding its way into the air passage in connection with the plates, it was suggested that they should be raised, say two inches, above the level of the floor".

    The interior of the walls were to be faced with brick and whitewashed. The Hospital Board did not approve and "earnestly hoped that this plan may not be adhered to, nothing more unseemly or more cellar-like than would be presented by such an imperfect finish to the wards being approved of; no comforts in the rooms, and no arrangements, could ever compensate for the chilling feature of an uncovered surface of brick wall for the sick man's eye to rest on".

    The Cambridge was probably the first base hospital in the history of the Army to receive casualties direct from the battle front. The battle of Mons took place on August 20th 1914. The Aldershot News stated that:



    "The first batches of wounded men arrived at the Cambridge and Connaught Hospitals from Southampton on Sunday. Most of those sent on to Aldershot met with their injuries during the battle of Mons. They were moved to their respective hospitals with the utmost care and solicitude. All tell a terrible story of the desperate character of the fighting at Mons."

    The Cambridge was also the birthplace of plastic surgery in the British Empire. Captain Gillies (later Sir Harold), on leave in Paris in June 1915, met Morestin who was doing wonderful work on the reconstruction of faces in the Val-de-Grace Hospital in Paris. In his own words Gillies "stood spellbound as Morestin removed half a face distorted with cancer". He fell in love with the work on the spot, and at the end of 1915 was sent back from France to start a Plastic Unit in the Cambridge Hospital. His suggestion to the War office that all wounded face and jaw patients should be labelled for Aldershot was received without enthusiasm. Nevertheless he bought 10 worth of labels in a local bookshop and sent them to the War Office for this purpose. He had little hope of seeing them again, but after the battle of the Somme facial wounds arrived in Britain "not only with my labels but with official ones issued by the War Office, neatly made out for me". They prepared for 200 patients, but 2,000 arrived at Southampton. The Unit was established under Sir W. Arbuthnot and Captain Gillies, the dental side of the work was done by Kelsey Fry (later Sir William), and the artist was Professor Tonks of the Slade Art School, who had retired and was found by Gillies working as a secretary in an adjutant's office having volunteered to "do his bit".

    The original part of the Cambridge has not changed greatly since it was built. The famous long central corridor once had entrances at both ends. The Leishman Laboratory was built at the east end and opened by Lady Leishman in 1932. The first Commanding Officer was Major A. Hood and the great Leishman himself worked in the laboratory. During World War II the Cambridge was greatly expanded since Aldershot had become a large military centre, and many well known medical men walked the long corridor.

    The clock tower of the hospital once housed a large bell and two smaller ones. The large bell has a twin which went to Windsor Castle, and they are called the Sebastopol bells. They were brought home along with other captured Russian trophies from the Crimes in 1856, and came from the Church of the Twelve Apostles in Sebastopol. Cast by Nicholas Samtoun of Moscow, each weighed 17cwt 1qr 21lb, and they were put on show at Woolwich Arsenal in February 1856. The Aldershot bell was erected on a wooden stand near the Headquarters Office huts which stood between Gun Hill and Middle Hill, and a sentry rang the bell like a gong on each hour. The bell was moved into the Cambridge clock tower when it was built, where it continued to ring the hours. The smaller bells bore the inscription: "Cast by Gillet Bland & Co., clock makers to Her Majesty, Croydon 1878 London". They were used to ring the quarters until, in 1914, a senior officer decided that the bells should be silenced as they disturbed the patients. The large bell was moved to Steeles Road in March 1961, where it was unveiled by the GOC Major-General R.A. Bramwell-Davis, and later moved again to its present site outside Gun Hill House.

    For the last 30 years of its existence, civilians were admitted to the hospital when beds were available, with priority given to those with military connections. The esteem in which the hospital was held can be judged by the number of people who tried to gain admission. One lady advancing her claim, announced that her grandfather was killed in the Boer War. Although since the Second World War the Cambridge had decreased its bed strength, it still provided a third more beds that when it was first opened, having 350 beds including 27 for officers and 102 for women and dependents. The Central Sterile Supply Service started to supply syringes during the Suez crisis in 1956, expanded rapidly to supply ready packed operating equipment. By the 1990s it supplied made-up packs for practically every medical and surgical procedure large and small. The Cambridge Hospital was amongst the first in the country to establish this type of service. The hospital housed the Army Chest Unit and a well appointed outpatient department located at the west end of the corridor was opened in 1967.

    Sadly the disadvantages of the historic old building were used to support the closure of the hospital. Asbestos found in the walls and ceiling of the building was being removed as wards were refurbished two or three at a time, until work was halted by the proposed closure. Fire hazards prevented most of the upper floor being used, although fire standards had been improved. Many departments were cramped, and because the hospital was built on a hill for hygiene reasons, any outwards development was prevented. (It was originally thought that building it on a ridge would encourage clean air to waft through the wards.) The kitchens were said to need modernization to bring them up to food safety standards, and water was supplied through cast iron pipes which give it a yellow tinge.
    A nice set of buildings but a little stripped for my liking.........all a bit samey if you know what I mean, still worth seeing though........

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    Last edited by vmlopes; 12th Mar 10 at 14:14.

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  4. #2
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    Chilling! which door should i go through? hmmmmm, let me think. Decent compositions.
    "if all our prayers were answered, wishes would diminish"

  5. #3
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    The way the paint has come off the walls gives it a real west park look in places, to be quite honest i can get enough of that peely look. Even if it is stripped inside it still looks a good explore just on the basis of the amount of decay to be seen. Some good pictures as usual vmlopes, #3 is my favourite

    Looking at the pictures make me wish we hadnt driven up the main drive and had tried to find a back way in, so we could of explored the inside
    Last edited by Allstar#500; 12th Mar 10 at 15:05.

  6. #4
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    This is a great place, I like seeing these reports. I need to get over there some time, I was actually born there...
    Check out my website for more of my pictures... http://www.mc-nebula.com/ :)

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  8. #5
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    Nice one vmlopes, still need to get inside here.

    I presume the visit was March 2010? If so I can edit the title for you.
    Too Much Reasoning Kills Inspiration, Stone Dead

  9. #6
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    Now I'm not a great fan of this type of building but I love the grim feel to these images. Viewed on the larger size they look even better.

    Nicely captured atmosphere on these photos. Thanks for sharing. :)
    Full of meaty goodness.

  10. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by mr_bones View Post
    Nice one vmlopes, still need to get inside here.

    I presume the visit was March 2010? If so I can edit the title for you.
    Yes 2010..............thought it already said that though??

  11. #8
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    It does now, must have taken the forum a little while to update.
    Too Much Reasoning Kills Inspiration, Stone Dead

  12. #9
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    No I changed it an hour or so ago ;)

    For some reason editing the title of the first post does not change the overall thread title. Only a moderator can do that for some reason. It's a bit daft.

  13. #10
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    HDR works really well with the green doors.

    Good work :)
    Silence is golden but duck tape is silver.


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