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Letters

 

Published in the Rotherham Advertiser 6th Feb 2009

 

Published in the Rotherham Advertiser 30th Jan 2009

 

 

Published in the Rotherham Advertiser 5th December 2008
Rotherham Advertiser 5/12/08

 

Published in the Rotherham Advertiser 14th Novemeber 2008
Letter to Editor

 

Published in the Rotherham Advertiser at the beginning of 2008

Dear Sir,

John Guest, speaking at the public unveiling of Doncaster Gate Hospital in May 1872, described how the site had previously been, “… a deformity and a disgrace to one of the principle entrances to the borough town of Rotherham”, but was now “…crowned with a noble edifice, whose least claim was that as striking an ornament and credit to the place as the previous condition of its site was a disgrace and deformity”.  

Its highly distinctive design had been the wining entry in a national competition in the May 1869 edition of ‘The Builder’ magazine. The 1909 ‘Sheffield & Rotherham Red Book’, waxed lyrically “The hospital and dispensary consists of excellent suite of buildings occupying the brow of Doncaster Road Hill. It is built of light Thrybergh stone with high roofs and Dormer windows in the Tudor style and stands in large ornamental grounds.”

The hospital has played a crucial social role spanning over three centuries in the lives of successive generations of Rotherham people, particularly the working class.

Writing in the 1920s George Gummer explained in ‘Reminisces of Rotherham’, how workers injured in industrial accidents suffered prior to the hospital being built. “…. it was customary, well into the sixties [1860s], for the sufferers from Parkgate and other works to be put into an open cart - mattered not whether it was winter or summer, whether cold or warm, wet or fine - and jolt all the way to the Sheffield Infirmary”.

“Naturally, the public could not allow such a state of things to continue. It was grievous to hear of men being hurt, but it was harrowing to see them “carted” through the streets, their sufferings added to, and their lives endangered. To obviate this, it was first proposed to add a few beds to the Dispensary.”

An initial attempt in 1863 to raise public subscriptions for funding a hospital failed. James Yates had offered land and £500 for a six-bed unit, but it was turned down as “being too limited and amidst factories”. The Earl Fitzwilliam “doubted it could gain enough support in the area”. But with the increase in population, disease and industrial accidents, a renewed campaign, just a few years later, met with great success. Gummer relates that “many substantial subscriptions were forthcoming, but a truly magnanimous lady was found in Miss Nightingale, who headed the list with the magnificent gift of £1000”.

However, it was not just the well-to-do who subscribed but the workers in the factories, mines and workshops. Their donations are listed in separate columns in the hospital reports showing that in its first year workmen raised £380, one quarter of the year’s income.  

The Feoffees’ annual contributions varied between £100 and £250. They also ran a ‘Convalescent Home Fund’ from which grants were made to people requiring recuperative treatment. In 1883, £500 was provided for a Children’s Ward, and ten years later £1,150 towards a new female ward ‘The Feoffes [Nightingale] Ward’.

What gives Rotherham Primary Care Trust and the developers the right to determine the fate of the towns ‘noble edifice’?

 
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