Book celebrates South Yorkshire hospital’s 150 years of caring for sick

The first patient, A Quigley, enters the new infirmary on Thorne Road. Left to right: Mr W Temperton, Secretary/Superintendent Mr W Smith, Mr A B. Dodds, Chairman Mr A A Bell, Mr A Clarke, Matron Miss M Duesbury, House Surgeon Dr Crossley, Mayor Ald W J Crookes and Vice Chairman Mr E Phillips
The first patient, A Quigley, enters the new infirmary on Thorne Road. Left to right: Mr W Temperton, Secretary/Superintendent Mr W Smith, Mr A B. Dodds, Chairman Mr A A Bell, Mr A Clarke, Matron Miss M Duesbury, House Surgeon Dr Crossley, Mayor Ald W J Crookes and Vice Chairman Mr E Phillips

A  new book reveals a century and a half of vital healthcare at Doncaster Royal infirmary.

Good Health – A Pictorial Celebration of Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals is authored by the hospitals’ NHS trust archivist, Garry Swann.

The newly-built staff dining room at Doncaster Royal Infirmary in 1968

The newly-built staff dining room at Doncaster Royal Infirmary in 1968

Garry was previously a photographer at the trust and has completed more than half a century of service to the NHS.

He has used his extensive knowledge and access to the hospitals’ archives to curate over 100 pages filled with images and photographs from yesteryear.

The book, which was published in the summer to mark 70 years of the NHS and 150 years of Doncaster Royal Infirmary, details the history of the NHS trust.

It is bursting with photographs of staff and facilities taken over the past two centuries, from the hospital’s humble beginnings in the 19th century to the achievement of becoming a teaching hospital in 2017.

The entire medical and nursing staff in the garden of the old Wood Street Infirmary, about 1900

The entire medical and nursing staff in the garden of the old Wood Street Infirmary, about 1900

As the book relates, the hospital had its origins in the 18th century, when hospitals were being set up to help the ‘sick poor’ who had no access to reliable healthcare.

Surgeon John Branson set up the Doncaster Dispensary in 1792.

However, by the mid-19th century a hospital was badly needed, given the increase in population as industry grew hugely in the town and workers got injured in industrial accidents.

In 1862, a bequest of £500 from doctor Henry Bainbridge led to the forming of a charity to raise the money to build Doncaster General Infirmary and Dispensary on Wood Street, opened in December 1866. 

Florence Longrigg was Matron at Doncaster from 1896 to 1907

Florence Longrigg was Matron at Doncaster from 1896 to 1907

Doncaster Corporation, the forerunner of the council, matched Dr Bainbridge’s donation to allow work to start on the project. 

The first building had only 23 beds in five wards.

A picture from 1900 shows that the entire medical staff at that time numbered only 14.

The first nurses were supplied by the Liverpool Training School for Nurses and later came from another school in Stoke Newington, London.

One of the new Doncaster Royal Infirmary operating theatres pictured in 1972, with Mr M H Holden, consultant oral surgeon, operating. Six identical theatres were available at this time and two orthopaedic theatres were based in the West Ward Block

One of the new Doncaster Royal Infirmary operating theatres pictured in 1972, with Mr M H Holden, consultant oral surgeon, operating. Six identical theatres were available at this time and two orthopaedic theatres were based in the West Ward Block

Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Christian, who took a great interest in nursing, visited in 1906, when the hospital became the Doncaster Royal Infirmary and Dispensary.

By 1925 the hospital had its own training school for nurses.

Pictures show early fundraising efforts in the pre-NHS years and how the hospital began to expand, although progress was slow.

Edward, Prince of Wales, laid the foundation stone for a new infirmary on Thorne Road in October 1926 and it opened four years.

During the war, five long huts were built in the grounds to accommodate war wounded. 

Local people visited the casualties, who were often far from home, and gave food donations.

Kay Baker and her parents visiting war casualties who were housed in huts in the infirmary grounds

Kay Baker and her parents visiting war casualties who were housed in huts in the infirmary grounds

The modern Doncaster Royal Infirmary was completed in 1969. The site included maternity and psychiatric hospitals.

The maternity hospital became Doncaster Women’s Hospital, then later Women’s and Children’s Hospital. 

The book also looks at Bassetlaw, Retford and Mexborough Montagu hospitals, which all now come under the same NHS trust, and celebrates the work of all the many staff and volunteer supporters who work at the hospitals.

The book is available to purchase online at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ dbth-book site.

If you would like your book delivered, you are asked to donate £9.99 (for cost of book and associated delivery).

All profits from the book will go to the NHS trust’s charity and used to benefit patients.

The newly-built staff dining room at Doncaster Royal Infirmary in 1968

The newly-built staff dining room at Doncaster Royal Infirmary in 1968