Archive centreCarlisle
ReferenceTHOS 1
TitleCumberland Infirmary
DescriptionRegisters of Attendance, Clinical Meetings (1975-1985); East Cumberland Medical Postgraduate Sub-committee minutes (1970-1988); Carlisle Dispensary annual reports (1904-1947); 'Local Worthies' by Mary Slee (1923); Cumberland Infirmary Annual Reports (1929-1933); Carlisle and County Hospital Saturday and Sunday Fund, annual reports (1935-1941); Strathclyde House, annual report (1941); Carlisle Maternity Association, annual report (1908); Carlisle Council of Social Service, annual reports (1938-1939, 1944); 'A Short History of Cumberland Infirmary,' (1980s); Message of congratulations from the Carlisle Diocesan Conference (1930); Annual statistics, Cumbria Area Health Authority, East Cumberland District, (1947-1986); Analysis of use of in-patient resources, (1980-1986); In-patient activity statistics (1978-1984); Copy of application and testimonials relating to Thomas McLaren Galloway, candidate for the post of Honorary Assistant Physician to the Cumberland Infirmary (1933); East Cumbria Health Authority Education Centre, leaflet and plans (c. 1981-1986); 'Cumberland Infirmary, Past, Present and Future,' Presidential Address, (1925); Article relating to Jeanne Perriam (c. 1992); 'Garlands in the Nineteenth Century; a Portrait of a Provincial Lunatic Asylum,' (c. 1980s) Medical Library Committee minutes (1966-1979); Postgraduate Medical Education; East Cumberland Area, programmes (1972-2008)
Large framed item containing portrait photographs of the medical staff at Cumberland Infirmary, 1940
Student midwife's [Isabella Walker} lecture note book with tutor's corrections, 1945
Date1828-2008
ContextThe Cumberland Infirmary was established in 1841. It was established in the Caldcotes area, Carlisle, for the sick and impoverished in Carlisle, Cumberland and Westmoreland. Up until the establishment of Cumberland Infirmary, the only hospital in Carlisle was a House of Recovery for sicknesses like Typhus, established in 1820.
The nearest public hospitals were at Dumfries, Edinburgh and Glasgow and in an era without the invention of automobiles, it was unlikely that a lower or working class person living in Cumbria would be able to get to any one of these hospitals. This and the rise in diseases such as Typhus provided reasons for the building of the infirmary.
Backing the building of the infirmary with funds were several beneficiaries and it was agreed by a committee that Mr Richard Tattersall’s building plans would be used. The infirmary cost around £8356 to build and in August 1841, Dr Thomas Barnes FRSE was appointed Honorary Physician, with Mr W B Page being appointed as surgeon in early 1842.
Throughout the Infirmary’s history, money was short. In the 1877, 1908 and in 1930, Bazaars were held in order to raise money for new rooms, beds and technology. These were attended a few times by HRH Princess Louise, Marchioness of Lorne, with wards being named after her in thanks. Despite these events, the infirmary often lacked the beds to house the large population of the railway centre that Carlisle was, and often had to turn people away in the early years of the infirmary or discharge people for not being good enough examples of ‘proper objects of charity’.
In 1890, the installation of a phone proved a great convenience for the hospital, along with a scheme arranged so that nurses could be private nurses or go out in the community as district nurses, charging one guinea a week and thereby creating some profit for the infirmary.
In 1899, the installation of a new operating theatre that was used until 1924 greatly benefitted the infirmary, as did the installation of Rontgen Rays that lay the groundwork for the X-rays that would be used by the likes of Scott-Harden, whose techniques of radiological examination were repeated by others around the world.
In 1914 with some surgeons and doctors being called for military service , the hospital was run volunteers and members of the red cross. The infirmary played a large part in caring for the injured and coping with the dead from the Gretna Troop Train Disaster in 1915. 180 casualties were treated.
In 1930, a new X-Ray department was created, and was a great asset to not only Carlisle, but the entire county.
In 1938, with the rising possibility of another war in Europe, two new wards were built in the infirmary, with 21 beds in each, along with 4 new Emergency Medical Service Wards being built after the outbreak of war. War did mean shortages in staff and increased demand for services, however there were not the expected air raids on Carlisle.
In 1948 with the planning of the NHS, Cumberland Infirmary became the District General Hospital of the East Cumberland Group of Hospitals, and in the 1960s a plan for a large hospital built on the site of the infirmary was put into action. Whilst the construction was taking place, the new country of Cumbria was formed and the infirmary became the District Hospital of East Cumbria District, which was a busy and thriving hospital throughout the 1980s.
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