A triumph of the people: Lymington's Cottage Hospital
A hospital 'started by Lymington people, belonged to Lymington people and served Lymington people.'
King Edward VII visited the New Forest on several occasions, staying at Palace House in Beaulieu, Highcliffe Castle and Newlands Manor. Following his death a committee was formed under the chairmanship of Lord Arthur Cecil of Passford House to create a useful memorial to commemorate him.
Lymington's cottage hospital was opened as the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital in 1913 on land donated by Keppel Pulteney, Lord of the Manor. £800 was raised by 5,000 residents to pay for the construction. Crowds gathered for the opening ceremony, when a letter was reportedly received from Florence Nightingale.
It was designed by local architect Horace Bernton-Benjamin and included male and female four-bedded wards, a single bed emergency ward, an operating theatre, an x-ray room, a dispensary and a kitchen. The X-ray machine was a gift of Mr Caulfield of Delawarr House, a gifted amateur engineer. The matron, Miss D Lynch, had a sitting room on the ground floor, with a room for two other nurses on the first floor, one of whom was her sister Miss E Lynch and the other 'an Irish nurse'.
In 1919 the number of patients treated was 167 with 49 operations performed. Just 9 years later, in 1928, over 800 patienets were treated. A further £2,200 was raised to extend the wards and add one for children, whilst private funds provided a part-private ward block.
In 1929, local residents took part in a competition to purchase two plots of land on which a nurses home was constructed for £2,500. In the same year, a wealthy American visitor, Mr Barkley Henry and his wife, were treated at the hospital and presented a new theatre, X-ray and physiotherapy rooms in gratitude. An appeal to the local community raised a further £5,000 in 1932.
During the Second World War, two temporary prefabricated wards were given by the government, for patients who included wounded soldiers and prisoners of war from Setley camp.
Lymington Hospital became part of the Southampton group of hospitals with the establishment of the National Health Service in 1947.
Many developments took place over the years, with more services added and therefore more patients. In 1966 nearly 10,000 outpatients and well over 2,000 inpatients.
In 1980 a new pathology laboratory (built as a memorial to Dr de Mowbray) and a casulty unit were added, following another public appeal for £150,000 which eventually raised £450,000 before the official opening in 1983 by Princess Anne.
By 2002 the deterioating 'temporary' wards were still in constant use, as the Health Authority after two failed attempts, made a third application for a new hospital under the Private Finance Initiative scheme, having already paid £1.5million for a covenanted site at Ampress.
Work started on the new hospital in 2004 after a long and dedicated struggle by the Friends of Lymington Hospital. The new Lymington New Forest Hospital opened in 2007.
Strong community involvement at Lymington Hospital
Until 1933 all administrative work was done by volunteers - and a strong local community involvement and active voluntary support continues to the present day.
Over the years, the League of Friends of Lymington Hospital have raised huge sums for a whole range of facilities, some medical and some social. A former matron of Lymington Hospital, Miss E Buckeridge, remarked that the hospital 'was started by Lymington people, belonged to Lymington people and served Lymington people.'
Importantly, the land at Ampress on which the new hospital is built was paid for by the Friends of Lymington Hospital - and will remain forever their property.
Currently the League of Friends of Lymington Hospital are raising £90,000 for two new Ultrasound scanner machines. Find out how to donate here.
Find here about volunteering at Lymington New Forest Hospital - including Volunteer Collectors with Hospital Radio.
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Lymington in Old Picture Postcards by Brian J Down
Lymington: A History and Celebration by Jude James
Then & Now: Lymington and Pennington by Brian J Down
League of Friends of Lymington Hospital