Here – as promised on our Twitter ‘Silver Takeover’ last week – are some photos of the early buildings of St Cross Hospital in Rugby.
Nursing home precursor of St Cross
A small nursing home with one nurse and room for 12 people was set up at Pennington Street in the centre of Rugby in 1869. This moved to premises in Castle Street in 1872, which had steep stairs and serious limitations to what it could treat successfully. There was still only one nurse, with 14 beds for adults and two cots for children.
Richard Wood was a wealthy stockbroker, originally from Manchester, who lived in Rugby for twenty-one years. He and his wife Elizabeth were local benefactors: they donated a plot of land off Barby Road and a million pounds to build the hospital. The original building was designed by Henry Wilson of London and built by Messrs Parnell. It can be seen in several of the photos above. It opened in 1884 with three nurses, four support staff, 31 beds and other facilities for treating the sick. By the way, there is no Saint Cross: the Rugby hospital was named after the ancient hospital of St Cross in Winchester that had been founded in the 12th century to care for the sick and elderly and still survives today as an almshouse.
The original building has been extended over the years, with the Victoria (Jubilee) Wing and a free-standing chapel opened in 1899. More recently the original building has been in use as the Linden Centre for mental health. It is now surrounded by extensions and many separate buildings have been added on the same site. Notable additions were a children’s wing in 1907, and a sun pavilion on the south side in 1932 when fresh air was a recommended treatment. It is interesting to note that the current number of beds and employees in the hospital is 110 and 8,500 – a far cry from the original 31 beds and seven staff!
More history and records
There’s a detailed history of the hospital on the Friends of St Cross website, with photos and a copy of a booklet produced for the centenary by the Rugby History Research Group.1 A substantial collection of records from the hospital have been deposited in the care of Warwickshire County Record Office.2 Other photographs of the Hospital, wards etc can be found on this website.
1 ‘Hospital of St Cross Rugby 1884-1984’, Rugby History Research Group, 1984.
2 Annual reports, minutes and accounts: WCRO, CR 2745