Hull’s WW1 Hospitals

Hull Naval Hospital. It was to be used to treat casualties from the military and navy with the East Riding Territorial Branch of the St John Ambulance Association Voluntary Aid Committee supplying nurses and staff.
The hospital started accepting casualties almost immediately and between August 1914 and January 1917, almost 2,500 patients, mainly soldiers and military personnel, were treated in Hull. By January 31, 1917, Britain’s naval base hospitals were under intense pressure because of the number of casualties from the war at sea, so the Admiralty asked that the hospital should only accept naval casualties.
Six large and six smaller wards were used to treat 204 men and 16 officers. A matron and 12 trained sisters ran the wards with the nurses coming from the Kingston and Western Division of the St John Ambulance Association Voluntary Aid Detachment. By the time the hospital closed in January 1919 following the end of the war, it had treated a further 4,000 patients.

Hull Royal Infirmary Naval Hospital
The first hospital organised by Lady Nunburnholme was the Naval Hospital at the Hull Royal Infirmary, located at Argyle Street. Originally opened in 1914, to help Hull’s poor and sick people from the nearby Workhouse, she persuaded the Board of Guardians to donate the East and West wings of the hospital to help front line casualties arriving at nearby Paragon Station on special ambulance trains. In April 1917, it became a naval hospital for injured sailors. The Naval hospital was equipped by Lady Nunburnholme and Lord Glenconner and staffed by trained Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurses. It had 220 beds and was initially used as a military hospital for the sick from the Humber Garrisons, but by early 1917 had been entirely taken over by the Navy, receiving a weekly Royal Navy Ambulance Train. (The hospital was being used up to 2008 and was demolished in 2017.)

Lady Sykes Hospital
This was equipped by the late Sir Mark and Lady Sykes and based in the Metropole Hall, West Street in Hull. Staffed by trained VAD helpers this hospital transferred to France. It returned to Hull after the war and closed in January 1919.

Reckitt’s Hospital
The Reckitt’s company converted its social hall into a factory hospital. It was Hull’s third hospital with 45 beds, organised and financed by Mr and Mrs P Reckitt. This VAD run hospital opened on the 9th December 1914 and closed in January 1919. In the 4 years and 3 months that it was open, the Reckitt’s hospital treated 2,910 patients. Colonel Tatham from the Humber Garrison Medical Service wrote; “the patients who have been there, greatly appreciate the care and kindness bestowed upon them. Many of them have told me, that they were so looked after and received so many little extras and kindnesses, that Reckitts’ was the hospital that men wished to get into if they could.” Sir James Reckitt also billeted a large number of soldiers in their grounds and offered to house a large number of Belgian refugees.

Military Hospital Hull WW1
Celebrations in a Hull hospital WW1
Hull Royal Infirmary’staff, treated around 6,500 army and navy casualties. The infirmary, built on the current site of the current tower block, was opened by Hull Lord Mayor JH Hargreaves on July 16, 1914. However, Germany declared war on France and invaded neutral Belgium on August 3, with Britain declaring war on Germany the following day.
Hull handed over the infirmary to the War Office at York on August 15 with the Dowager Lady Nunburnholme offering to pay for the building to be equipped with stores and provisions.
King George and Queen Mary visited the hospital, speaking to staff and patients on 18th June 1917.
Spring Bank War Orphans, Hull. The Orphanage was founded in 1863. Accommodated 210 children with preference for children of lost seamen. It was supported by Trinity House, Lord Wilson and other locak benefactors. Here is their Saturday, 1916, Flag Appeal. (Hull Daily Mail 27.07.1916)
Sister, Rosa Heweth (1884-1964), of South Boulevard, Hull, who had been in Salonika for several months, nursing the wounded. HDM 23.11.1916.
WW1 British P.O.W. parcels from Lady Nunbernholme, Hull WW1.
Voluntary Aid Detachments (VAD’s)

St Johns Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospital
This hospital was based at the Newland School for Girls on Cottingham Road. It was staffed by Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurses and opened by Field Marshall French in April 1917. (see photo below). It was run by Lady Nunburnholme and one of the largest hospitals in the country. It was also highly regarded by many military and Naval Authorities. The VAD’s of Hull also gave First Aid in different parts of the City.

An old metal matchbox cover – probably made by a serving soldier recovering in hospital following injury during The Great War.
It may well have been made as a Christmas present for a nurse as a gratitude of thanks?
It is engraved: S T. John V.A.D. Hospital, Hull, Xmas 1918.
It measures 58mm x 38mm x 20mm.

‘Brookland’s Officers Hospital’
This is now the ‘Dennison Centre’ on Cottingham Road, and opened in early 1917. This hospital was run by the East Riding Branch of the Red Cross society and was commanded by Mrs Strickland Constable. JRR Tolkein spent 18 months there convalescing from ‘trench fever’. It is said that he was inspired by the surroundings to later write ‘The Lord of the Rings’. These military hospitals were manned and operated by the Royal Army Medical Corps and Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, supplemented by voluntary workers from a number of organizations, including the Voluntary Aid Detachments, Red Cross, St John’s Ambulance and YMCA.

Brookland Hospital Hull

Hull’s WW1 National Kitchen. The Government set up 363 ‘National Kitchens’, including one in Hull, to feed people during World War One. These improved diets, cut down food waste and proved hugely popular. A bowl of soup, a joint of meat and a portion of side vegetables cost 6d – just over £1 in today’s money. Puddings, scones and cakes could be bought for as little as 1d (about 18p). These self-service restaurants, run by local workers and partly funded by government grants, offered simple meals at subsidised prices. A 1918 ‘Scarborough Post’ story about the national kitchen in Hull emphasised the ambition of the typical urban outlet: “The place has the appearance of being a prosperous confectionery and cafe business. The business done is enormous.”

In addition, other great work was done in Hull by local organisations, charities and trade unions. The ‘Blind Institute’ on Beverley Road was used to rehabilitate those with sight impairments. The De La Pole hospital at Castle Hill cared for ‘shell shock’ victims. Peel House, at No: 150 Spring Bank, became a centre for  ‘Hull’s Prisoner of War Fund’, producing 130,000, life saving, ‘Red Cross’ parcels, for prisoners of war. The Freehold Street Bread Fund raised a substantial amount of money to provide bread for these prisoners. Hull’s Seaman’s Union also sent parcels, as well as providing money, clothes and coal for those in need at home. The Hull District War Refugee’s Committee, for Belgian Refugees, was set up on the 7th September 1914, at Bowalley Lane, Hull. Of its 500 volunteer helpers, 400 were women aiding a total of 1,200 refugees.

Hull Soldiers Club, Beverley Road Baths, WW1 Hull

It is most appropriate to mention the fine work of Dr. Mary Murdoch, the first women medical practitioner to work in Hull. She had been connected with the Victoria Hospital for Sick Children in Park Street, since 1892. and had done much to promote the health and welfare of women and children in Hull. In 1910 Mary Murdoch became a Senior Physician, Hull’s first GP, and served as a medical representative on a number of Health Committees. She worked tirelessly to help the sick and wounded since the outbreak of the war. Unfortunately, Dr Mary Murdoch died after a short illness in March 1916. She had escaped a Zeppelin air raid, by running in the snow and was to catch a chill which became fatal. She had raised £250 to reopen the babies hospital at the Victoria hospital in Park Street, and after her death left £962 to the same cause and endowed a cot in her name.

Her Majesty walking through the guard of honour of nurses of RN Hospital, Hull

WWI helped hasten medical advances. Physicians learned better wound management and the setting of bones. Harold Gillies, an English doctor, pioneered skin graft surgery. Geoffrey Keynes, a surgeon from Britain, designed a portable blood transfusion kit. It saved thousands of lives during World War 1The huge scale of those who needed medical care in WWI helped teach physicians and nurses the advantages of specialisation and professional management. ‘X’ rays were used by the military for the first time during the war. Blood transfusions became routine to save soldiers, with the first blood bank established on the front line in 1917. 

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