Old News


The West Herts Infirmary - Hemel Hempstead

From the Hemel Hempstead Gazette

 28th June 1890



Hemel Hempstead




Admitted by Letter 7

Admitted 9

Casualties 2

Discharged 21

Discharged 9

On the Books 171

Died 1

Attended Monday 23

In the House 41

Thursday 28

Present at the Sub-Committee ---
Rev. W. T. Tyrwhitt Drake (Chairman),
Rev. A. C. Richings,
Surgeons in attendance ---
Dr. Steele,
F. C. Fisher, Esq.,
Dr. Dove.
Visiting Clergyman --- The Chaplain.
W. D. Arnison, M.B. House Surgeon

A Legacy of 22 10 (net.) from the Late Miss Emily Grover, St. Albans, was announced.


To the Editor of the Hemel Hempstead Gazette

Sir --- In consequence of certain defects having been discovered in the drainage of the West Herts Infirmary, Hemel Hempstead, the Committee have determined to remodel the whole Sanitary arrangements, at a cost of 450. It will be necessary during the alterations to limit the number of In-Patients to 20. They therefore request subscribers only to send in very urgent cases during the next two months, and when possible to write first to the House Surgeon and ascertain whether there is a vacant bed.

They will also be thankful to receive any donations towards the cost of the drainage.

I am,

Yours faithfully


Assistant Treasurer.

Hemel Hempstead Gazette - Saturday, June 28, 1890

The original West Herts Infirmary was founded by Sir Astley Paston Cooper in 1826 and was situated in cottages in Piccotts End, to the north of Hemel Hempstead. The cottages are well known as containing medieval wall paintings. Sir Astley Paston Cooper was a surgeon on the staff of Guy's Hospital, London, and performed a minor operation on George IV. He lived in Gadebridge House. The hospital opened in January 1827 for the "gratuitous relief of the necessitous poor" and during the first seven months 226 out-patients and 11 in-patients were cared for by Mrs Howarth, the matron, and Mrs Benwick. Mr Stell and Mr Smith were the visiting surgeons. An annual subscription of 1 or more entitled the subscriber to be a governor and recommend one patient to the out-patients' department, while a subscription of 5 or more gave the right to recommend an in-patient.

This small hospital was soon outgrown and in 1831 Sir Thomas Sebright was "building a handsome and substantial infirmary in an excellent situation at the entrance to the town." [The hospital has not moved - but now finds itself behind the main shopping street.] The building, now known as Cheere House, and housing the Postgraduate Medical Centre, was opened in 1832. This in turn proved too small and a new 50 bed building was opened in 1877 further up the hill behind Cheere House - and this is clearly the building referred to in the above news item. The building is still there, but is now surrounded by the more modern hospital buildings of the West Herts Hospital, including a brand new accident and emergency unit.

History summarised from History of Hemel Hempstead edited by Susan Yaxley

In 1890 the Rev W. T. Tyrwhitt-Drake was rector at Great Gaddesden, while the Rev Alfred Cornelius Richings lived at St John's Vicarage, Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead. Mr William Arnison Drewett was at the West Herts Infirmary while Dr Russell Steele was not far away at the Red House, 5 Alexandra Road, Hemel Hempstead.

Kelly's Directory for Hertfordshire, 1890 (Hemel Hempstead entries)

The Rev W. T. Tyrwhitt-Drake is the great grandfather of Barney Tyrwhitt-Drake who used to run Drake Software.

If you can add to the information given above tell me.

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