Alnwick Infirmary

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From Newcastle Chronicle, Oct 31st 1908: New infirmary at Alnwick to be opened by the Duke of Northumberland.

The Duke of Northumberland has consented to open the new Infirmary at Alnwick on Wednesday afternoon. It had been felt for a long time that the building in Dispensary Street, which was erected in 1819, did not fulfil all requirements, and about five years ago steps were taken with a view to further developments. The present institution was started as a dispensary, but in 1849 the name was changed to infirmary. When a change was contemplated, certain alterations were suggested, and the opinion of Mr. Leeson, of Messrs. Oliver and Woods, architects, Newcastle, was obtained. It was estimated that a sum of about £3,500 would be required to carry out the work, and the expert's advice was against this idea, and in favour of establishing a small cottage hospital of twelve beds, at a cost not exceeding £500 per bed. Full and careful consideration was given by the governors of the institution to this propesal, and they decided to erect a new building, toward the cost of which they granted £3,000 out of their invested funds. An application was made to the Duke of Northumberland for a site. His Grace, besides offering three sites on reasonable terms, generously promised to give £1,000 towards the scheme. The site selected was a portion of land in Spring Gardens, adjoining the Column Field, and close to the railway station. For the plans, there was an open competition. Mr. Aston Webb, the President of the Royal Association of British Architects nominating Mr. Frank Caws, F.R.I.S.A. Sunderland, to act as assessor. The Building Committee drew up the conditions and offered two prizes of £100 and £30 for the designs placed first and second respectively. Twenty designs from different architects in the county were deposited with Mr. W. T. Hindmarsh, solicitor, who has acted for many years as secretary of the Infirmary. The successful designers were Mr. J. Wightman Douglas of Alnwick and Newcastle; and Messrs. Boyd and Groves, of Newcastle; and the second prize was divided between Mr. Stephen Piper, of Newcastle; and Messrs. Armstrong and Wright, of Newcastle. Mr. Douglas has been the architect for several important works including the new Duke's School at Alnwick (£13,000) the town improvement scheme at Alnwick (£17,000) and the Broombill Schools (£7,000). Messrs. Boyd and Groves are also young men of considerable promise. The total cost of the echeme, including land, roads, building and fees but not the furnishings and apparatus, is not expected to exceed £6,000. Already the sum of £4,700 has been given or promised, and added to this must he the value of the existing building, so that about £800 or £900 still remains to be raised. The instituion has rendered noble service to suffering in the past. and it is earnestly hoped that its future will be crowned with still greater success.

The new infirmary will he found to meet all the requirements of a present day hospital. The building which been erected on a dry sandy subsoil, is modest in style, but pleasant in general appearance. The chief elevation is towards the Column Field. This allows of the wards being placed towards the south and obtaining the benefit of the sun throughout the entire day. The whole of the wards have been constructed so as to be under the immediate supervision of the nurse on duty, thus reducing the labour of control to a minimum, especially for the night nurse. The matron's rooms are as near the wards as possible, and in such a position to overlook the whole of the building. The waiting room, dispensary, and surgery are conveniently arranged near the doctor's rooms, apart from the wards and the administration department. The operating room is also detached from the wards, the door being in a direct line with the corridor, so that there will be no difficulty in handling the stretchers. The kitchen wing is conveniently arranged, with private yard, and closely adjoins the laundry. The administration block consists of the governors room, sitting rooms for resident doctor and matron, five bedrooms. and a bathroom. Cloak rooms and other conveniences have been provided; and any future extension may be arranged by forming a corridor along the south end of the committee room and throwing out a south wing, and at the same time extending the south wall of governors' room. The entire building is of Denwick stone roofed with dark-red Ruahon tiles. The surrounding trees are a natural protection from the north and north-west winds, and form a delightful background from which the Tenantry Column, often called "The Farmers' Folly" rises like a campanile. The interior surface of the walls is of polished adamantine, and the wood-work is of beautiful figured pitch pine. The floors of the corridors and wards are finished with polished terraso composed of marble and cement, laid by Italian workmen and the administration rooms are covered with armedek, composed partly of wood-pulp, laid by German workmen. Gas and electricity are to be employed in the lighting of the institution. The work of building has been carried out by Messrs. Elliott Bros. of Chathill, and there have been a number of sub-contractors, including two or three Newcastle firms.

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