Archive centreCarlisle
ReferenceTHOS 10
TitleBlencathra Isolation Hospital
DescriptionDeclaration of Trust, 1906 relating to land and premises at High Row, Threlkeld
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ContextBlencathra Sanatorium, one of the first Sanatoria in England, was built in 1898 and opened in 1904 on a mountainside in Keswick, close to Threlkeld, and focused on the prevention and treatment of tuberculosis. It initially cared for 20 patients. Many of its patients were treated successfully and were reported to be outside and working at the age of 80 or older.
Blencathra was suggested by the National Association for the Prevention of Consumption and other forms of Tuberculosis because of its surroundings, giving its patients fresh air and isolation to get better and a beautiful view of the Lakes.
The Medical Superintendent appointed was Dr Goodchild, who stayed in that position for 40 years. Goodchild was responsible for creating the Hydro Electric Power system that is still used by the converted field studies centre today.
The Sanatorium, which struggled for funds throughout its existence, encouraged people to pay for beds for the Sanatorium and become benefactors by will. Towards the end of 1913, the Sanatorium needed more accommodation for patients as well as additional improvements, including rooms for staff and an electric light. The majority of the money for this was granted by the Local Government board with the rest being raised by the committee managing the Sanatorium and it was built in 1914.
The sanatorium began to struggle for funds when the war hit in 1914, partly due to the price of the extensions going up and partly because generous donors to the Sanatorium died and some withdrew funds as to them, the National Insurance Acts now seemingly provided the money needed. In 1919, the Sanatorium raised prices for patients due to difficulties with prices rising during and after the war. It did benefit from funds given by the Cumberland County Branch of the British Red Cross.
In the 1920s, a lending library was created along with a recreation room.
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, it is clear that Blencathra was struggling for patients and therefore money, with over a decade of not enough patients. A garden fete, attended by the Mayor of Carlisle, was held to show people the work done there, encourage people to register as patients, and raise funds. In 1930 the Sanatorium’s expenditure exceeded its income by £600, due to it once again not being filled to its full capacity.
In 1939, the upheaval and evacuation of people resulted in fewer patients, 15 beds below the average number filled, and low funds once again. Extensions and improvements being made to the building were halted in favour of perfecting the black out of over 800 windows in the Sanatorium, whilst still maintaining adequate ventilation for the patients. A tunnel was also created in the mountainside in case of an air raid.
By 1945, the Sanatorium had 80 beds.
It closed around 1958 with the decline of Tuberculosis meaning it lacked the purpose it had once held and was converted to a long stay home for the elderly.
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