The £10,000 cost of the original building, designed in a gothic vernacular style, was met by a donation from Mr John Metcalfe Smith, of Beckett’s Bank in Leeds, and the site chosen was the then-remote district of Cookridge “where patients could be cheered up among the bracken and pure air”, as a contemporary report noted.
Patients paid for their own care if they could afford it but there were free places available as a result of donations from benefactors - three weeks convalescence cost around 8 shillings a week. Those people cared for at Cookridge had to conform to a list of rules - not changed until 1934 - including “to be obedient to Matron and to perform all such services in the house and grounds as she may appoint.”
Over the years the convalescent hospital was gradually extended, and during the First World War the building was requisitioned to care for wounded servicemen, resuming its civilian role after 1919. In 1939 when it was again taken over by the Government and briefly housed the
. Leeds Maternity Hospital
Whilst experiments with using radium against cancer started on a small scale at Leeds Infirmary as early as 1929, the story of
as a cancer treatment centre did not begin until 1952, when it was acquired by the Leeds Regional Hospital Board. They quickly recommended it should be developed as a Regional Radiotherapy Centre harnessing the latest technology - a plan which required considerable adaptation of the original convalescent hospital plus a number of new buildings which were constructed on the site during the 1950s and 1960s. Cookridge Hospital
The relative isolation of Cookridge from population centres at this time was a key factor in its choice for this role - in the aftermath of widespread aerial bombing of Britain during the Second World War, there was much concern at the time about future air raids, and the consequent danger which would be posed to the population from the escape of the radioactive materials used in high-dose radiotherapy treatment for cancer.
Over the years, countless thousands of people have reason to be grateful to the old hospital and the staff who have worked there. Despite the cramped and increasingly-outdated buildings it continued to be at the forefront of the development of new technology and pioneering better treatments with improved survival rates. This expertise and the reputation forged by
Cookridge Hospital will live on in the purpose-designed surroundings of the Bexley Wing which houses the new St James’s . Institute of Oncology
The hospital closed its doors in 2008.
There is an interesting report here:
from the archaeology company commissioned to survey the land prior to the new housing estate being built that gives an in depth history of the area and buildings.
The Ida hospital is the two crescent shaped buildings located on the site which were built in 1886. John North gifted £6,000 to open the convalescent home in memory of his daughter Ida. Chorley and Cannon were the architects of this building which opened on 10th May 1888. In more recent times the ward was used by Leeds Community & Mental Health Services.