Friday, 1 January 2016

Never be surprised at what you find on Wilbraham Road ............. nurses and Red a Cross Hospital

Now this is just the start of that story of a Red Cross hospital on Wilbraham Road and at this stage I have no idea where it will lead.

Until recently I knew that during the Great War the Red Cross ran two hospitals in Chorlton, one in the Sunday school of the Baptist Church on Edge Lane and the other in the Sunday School on Manchester Road.

The first opened in 1914 and the second must date from sometime in 1916 or 1917.

But given the demand for hospital beds I have always wondered if there were not more.

Just down the road in Whalley Range and south into Didsbury a number of private homes were given over to the Red Cross so it seemed logical that Chorlton must have had its own share of smaller Red Cross establishments.

That said none have turned up in the records of which the best is a book by the Red Cross on their work in east Lancashire which offers up a wealth of detail about the hospitals they ran.

But the book was published in 1916 and concentrates on those hospitals which had been set up between 1914-15 and so while the hospital on Edge Lane is included the one on Manchester Road is absent.

So I was intrigued when Pawel Lech Michalczyk told me that “the house next to the Chorlton Conservative Club is listed as a hospital in 1917.  It was Wycombe, and described as an auxiliary military hospital in the 1917 Slater's street directory.”

Now that set me off looking and back in 1911 Wycombe was home to Mr and Mrs Barnes, their four children and Miss Mary Jane Williams who was 27 and employed as a domestic servant.

Mr Williams described himself a “Merchant” and is listed in the 1911 directory as the “Managing Directory of James Barnes Ltd.”

Now Wycombe is a big house which was described as having 12 rooms making it large enough to have been run as a small auxiliary hospital.

And that is where the story stops, but I rather think it will only be a pause.

Picture;  picture postcard possibly Willow Bank Red Cross Hospital, circa 1914 courtesy of David Harrop,



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