Wednesday, 11 December 2019

St. Josephs Orphanage/ Mount Street Hospital, Preston


St Joseph’s Orphanage was opened in 1872 on the site of an almshouse, and St Joseph’s Hospital for the Sick Poor followed five years later.

They were built by wealthy widow Maria Holland, who gave £10,000 at a time when Preston had one of the worst mortality rates in the country, because of poor housing and low-paid mill workers.

St Joseph’s Orphanage cared for 971 children before it closed in 1954.

Run by the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady Mother of Mercy, the orphanage was the first welfare provider for Roman Catholic girls in Preston, taking in up to 60 youngsters at a time in two dormitories.

After its closure, the top floor of the orphanage continued to serve as accommodation for the nuns who worked in St Joseph’s Hospital, known locally as Mount Street Hospital.

During the First and Second World Wars, they tended injured soldiers and, over the years, tens of thousands of babies were born at the hospital’s maternity unit.

Legendary performer George Formby died at the hospital following a heart attack on March 6, 1961.

The hospital closed when the last sisters left nursing in 1982. It became a private care home in 1988, which eventually closed down in 2003.

The site awaits planning permission for conversion in to apartments and gardens.


Esoteric Eric

Monday, 2 December 2019

Royal Hospital Haslar, G Block Padded Cell, Gosport


The Royal Hospital Haslar in Gosport, Hampshire, was one of several hospitals serving the Portsmouth Urban Area, but had previously been the country's foremost – and ultimately last – military hospital.

The Admiralty acquired the site selected for the hospital, Haslar Farm, whose name came from Anglo-Saxon Hæsel-ōra (English: Hazel Bank), in 1745. The building was designed by Theodore Jacobsen and construction of the main building was completed in on 23 October 1753. On completion it was the largest brick building in Europe. Building works cost more than £100,000, nearly double the cost of the Admiralty headquarters in London. In its early years it was known as the Royal Hospital Haslar.

Patients usually arrived by boat (it was not until 1795 that a bridge was built over Haslar Creek, providing a direct link to Gosport). Built on a peninsula, the guard towers, high brick walls, bars and railings throughout the site were all designed to stop patients, many of whom had been press ganged, from going absent without leave.

The hospital included an asylum for sailors with psychiatric disorders

All remaining medical facilities at the site were closed in 2009. After services were transferred to the Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, Portsmouth, the hospital closed in 2009. The 25-hectare hospital site was sold to developers for £3 million later that year.

Plans were released in 2014 for a £152 million redevelopment scheme involving housing, commercial space, a retirement home and a hotel. The hospital itself is a Grade II listed building.


Esoteric Eric

Kingsway Tramway Subway, London


The Kingsway Tramway Subway is a cut-and-cover Grade II Listed tunnel in central London, built by the London County Council, and the only one of its kind in Britain. The decision in 1898 to clear slum districts in the Holborn area provided an opportunity to use the new streets for a tramway connecting the lines in the north and south. Following the pattern of tramways in New York (the Murray Hill Tunnel) and Boston (the MBTA Green Line), it was decided to build this as an underground connection.

Trams were abandoned in London on 5 July 1952, after which street tracks were lifted, but those in the subway mostly remain in place. In 1953, London Transport used the tramway to store 120 unused buses and coaches in case they were needed for the Coronation but proposals to convert the tramway subway to a car park or a film studio failed and it was leased out as a storage facility from October 1957.


Esoteric Eric