Thursday, 31 December 2015

Revealing the history of Batsford House on Seymour Grove ............... another Red Cross Hospital

This was Stretford Memorial Hospital on Seymour Grove which closed earlier this year.

It had opened its doors as a Red Cross Hospital in October 1914 and before that had been the home of the Nuttal family when it was known as Batsford House.

I recently wrote about its time both as a hospital and a private residence* but have been drawn back by an entry in the official history of the Red Cross in East Lancashire during the Great War.**

The book was published in 1916 and contains descriptions of all the Red Cross hospitals in the area during the first two years of the war along with the names of the nursing and ancillary staff and offers a fascinating insight into the working of each establishment.

According to the book,

“Batsford House was lent to the local British Red Cross Branch for conversion into an Auxiliary Hospital by James Nuttall, Esq., of Hale.

Seven wards have been arranged, together with mess room and day room, staff room, kitchens, etc., and the light airy aspect of the patients’ quarters has proved very cheerful.

Practically all the furniture and appurtenances were given or loaned by the local residents, and in consequence the cost of equipping was low, being under £100.

The Hospital was opened on October 28, 1914, providing accommodation for twenty patients but ten more beds were added during April, [1915] when more provision was essential to meet the requirements of the increased number of wounded soldiers coming to Manchester.

The upkeep of the Hospital has cost about 2s 8d  per bed, and this has been defrayed by the War Office Capitation Grant, augmented by public subscription.

Numerous entertainments have been provided in the wards, and the ample grounds surrounding the hospital have afforded facilities for tennis, croquet, football, etc.”**

Of the 154 men who were cared for between October 1914 and August 1915, 138 were British, 11 were from Australia and five were Belgians.  Most had “contracted their primary wounds” on the Western Front with having been wounded at Gallipoli and three from with Great Britain.

Of these 87 were bullet and shrapnel wounds, 5 were suffering from having been gassed, 18 from frost bite and the remainder were listed as “Miscellaneous.”

The average stay was 32 days and most went on to a period of sick furlough.

In this respect the information differs little from what was recorded from other Red Cross Hospitals and so offers up an insight into the impact of the fighting during the first year and a bit.***

Added to that what comes through is the huge voluntary contribution made by the local community.

We know that in the case of the Chorlton hospital on Edge Lane local fund raising provided a substantial amount towards the cost of running the establishment and caring for the patients.

And like Chorlton it should be possible to track the named staff using the Red Cross data base,**** census material, street directories and newspapers which will take us deep into the local community.

Now the book lists the names of 27 nurses, 25 orderlies and 12 cooks and at random I picked Mrs Cochrane who the database tells me was a Mrs Elizabeth Bertha Cochrane who was engaged on the day Batsford House opened and may well have been related to Miss Madge Cochrane who also started in October 1914 and Miss Muriel Cochrane who began service two years later.

With a bit of research it should be possible to track them down and maybe reveal a little of their work at the hospital.

We shall see.

Picture; Batsford House, circa 1914, from East Lancashire Branch - An illustrated account of the work of the Branch during the first year of the war, 1916 and the hospital circa 1914 from the collection of David Harrop

Painting; Stretford Memorial Hospital © 2015 Peter Topping from an original photograph by Andy Robertson


Facebook: Paintings from Pictures

Additional material courtesy of the archivist of the Red Cross Society

*Stretford Memorial Hospital,

**East Lancashire Branch - An illustrated account of the work of the Branch during the first year of the war, 1916

***First World War volunteers, The Red Cross,

***Red Cross Hospitals,

****First World War volunteers, The Red Cross,

No comments:

Post a Comment