The Nantwich Cottage Hospital came into being and was subsequently maintained by local voluntary effort.
In July 1907, a public meeting held in Nantwich Town Hall, when a resolution was passed that ‘In the opinion of this meeting it is very desirable and that a Cottage Hospital should be erected for the town of Nantwich and District’.
A committee was appointed to carry this resolution into effect, and the first business was to obtain a site. Numerous suggested sites were inspected and it was ultimately decided that the present site near the comer of Henhull Lane, which Mr Tollemache (of Dorfold Hall) had very generously offered a free gift, was the best from every point of view.
A subscription list was opened and met with a very generals and gratifying response, whilst a Bazaar which was enthusiastically taken up and carried through, realised the sum of £1,693 Plans were invited for the hospital and the assessor who was appointed to adjudicate, elected of Mess. Bower and Edleston. The total cost of the building and furnishing was £3,470. It was built by Mr Manley of Aston. The hospital opened in April 1911, the being six male and six female beds and two private wards. The domestic accommodation was found to be inadequate and in 1914, two bedrooms were added over the kitchen, at a cost of £115. In 1927, a sum of 2,000 was presented to the hospital by the executors of the late Mrs Wood and Miss Garnett, for the erection of a Nurses’ Home. Thee matron’s sitting room was converted into a Children’s Ward with four cots. Two more beds were added to each of the main wards. In 1934, a new wing costing £700 was built to form an X-ray department. In 1937, a new wing was added and fitted up as two accident and emergency wards at a cost of £520.
The hospital was fortunate in its presidents; the first being Mr Henry Tollemache, Vice-Lieutenant for Cheshire, who not only gave the site and much support in its inception but continued all his life to take a vital in the and its patients. He was followed by Colonel G. Christie-Miller, G.B., D.S.O., M.C., who most ably filled the office of President for a considerable time. Mention be made of Lady Christie-Miller who acted as Lady President for thirty years. Their interest and personalities meant much and were of the great factors in fostering the friendly and peaceful spirit which was of the outstanding features of this hospital throughout its existence.
Not least among those who gave their services in a voluntary capacity was the late Mr Frank Dixon, a local solicitor. He served as Honorary Secretary from its inception until it was taken over in 1948, a remarkable record of public spanning some forty years.
The rules drawn up in 1911 illustrate the objectives and the management of the hospital:
The Hospital shall be called the ‘Nantwich and District Cottage Hospital’, and shall be used for the treatment of poor persons and others who cannot be efficiently treated in their own homes and who are residents in the Parish of Nantwich and other Parishes in the Nantwich Union (excluding Barthomley, Church Coppenhall, Warmingham and the Borough Township of Crewe).
No out-patients department is provided
It shall be supported by Voluntary Annual Subscriptions, Donations, Collections. Bequests and from the Interest of the Endowment Fund, or by any other method that the Committee of the Management may from time to time determine.
The property of the Hospital shall vested in Trustees viz:- Henry James Tollemache, Edward Thomas Cotton-Jodrell, Rev James Stapleton-Cotton, William Joseph Dutton, William Lea, Walter Young, and Thomas Lewis Hitchens. The medical staff consist of such registered Medical Practitioners resident and in practice in the Parish of Nantwich may appointed or re-appointed at any General Meeting of the Body.
The Medical Officers shall consist of such registered Medical Practitioners resident and in actual practice outside the Parish of Nantwich within the Hospital District. as may be appointed or re-appointed at any General Meeting of the Governing Body.
The Medical Staff and Medical officers shall be entitled to make a charge for when patients are in a position to pay. They will intimate their intention of so charging in the Patients Admission Book for the information of the Committee. In all necessitous cases the services of the Medical Staff and Medical Officers will be gratuitous.
No case of infectious or incurable disease, pulmonary consumption, mental disorder or those of a protracted chronic character, or midwifery shall be admitted. Persons in receipt of or eligible for parochial relief are not admitted.
The staff consisted of a Matron, day and night Sisters, together with auxiliary and domestic staff. Initially, the resident staff were accommodated on the first floor prior to the building of the Nurses’ Home.
The medical was non-resident and consisted of local general practitioners.
The great majority of cases treated were surgical or those resulting from accident, although a minority of non-infectious medical cases were admitted.
At the time of handing over the hospital the number of beds in was twenty, and there was an endowment fund of £32,000. This was in 1948 when the hospital was handed over to the Ministry of Health. Between 1911 and 1948 it had about 10,000 patients.
There were two main fund-raising events. The annual Cottage Hospital Fete was a red-letter day in the town, being held the Nantwich Cricket Ground at Kingsley Fields. Local factories competed with each other with dancing troupes and decorated floats. These, led by a brass band and accompanied by numerous collectors, through the town to the venue where, in addition to athletic sports and a fun-fair, there was a whole variety of stalls. The other event was a Tennis Tournament, the preliminary rounds of which were played in local private club courts which culminated in the finals being held the lawns of Dorfold Hall.
After the formation of the NHS, in 1948, it was used for acute patients. Nantwich Cottage Hospital closed in 1972.
In 1994 Dr Turner wrote an article for Nantwich Museum, which is the basis for most of this page. He commented “Many of us who remember the hospital in its hey-day will mourn its passing. But it could no longer provide the facilities now required by ever-increasing advances in medicine and surgery. But we would wish to pay tribute to the splendid voluntary efforts made over the years by the relatively few for the benefit of many”.