Archive centreWhitehaven
ReferenceYTHOS 2
TitleWhitehaven and West Cumberland Hospitals
DescriptionIncludes: Minute books 1829-1948; Annual reports of Whitehaven Dispensary 1783-1822.
Date1783-1989
Access conditionsPatient medical records subject to restricted access for 100 years due to personal information within. Please ask staff for details if you would like access
ContextIn West Cumbria, locally funded hospitals in Whitehaven and Workington provided the first forms of hospital care. In Whitehaven, a Dispensary had been opened as early as 1783, and from 1829 it operated as an Infirmary, including a fever hospital, from new premises on Howgill Street. This Infirmary was replaced by a new hospital in the Whitehaven Castle building following the sale of the castle by the Earl of Lonsdale to Mr H Walker in 1924, who then donated the building to the people of Cumbria, along with monies to convert it into a hospital. In Workington, the Infirmary opened in 1886. From 1888 the town also had a fever hospital - Ellerbeck Hospital for Infectious Diseases - in the former workhouse building, which later became part of Workington Infirmary but closed in 1965.

The formation of the National Health Service in 1948 added impetus to the need to revisit hospital provision in West Cumbria. The small voluntary and local authority managed hospitals were inadequate to meet the needs of the population in an area with heavy industry and its associated morbidity. By 1951, lobbying had begun to replace Whitehaven's hospital and in 1957, approval was given to break ground on a new hospital at Hensingham, the first built in England following the creation of the NHS. This became the centre for hospital care in West Cumbria, officially opened on 21 October 1964 by HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Workington Infirmary closed in 2005, in favour of the Private Finance Initiative Workington Community Hospital on the site of the former Technical College.
Related materialSee also YTHOS 1 for records of West Cumberland Hospital Management Committee (NB these records retained at an outstore and available via Carlisle Archives). These contain many papers relating to the establishment of the NHS, and the construction of a new hospital in Hensingham for the west of the county.
Publication detailsPublished books: 'Bleeding, Blisters and Opium: Joshua Dixon and the Whitehaven Dispensary' by Michael Sydney 2009; 'History of the Whitehaven and West Cumberland Infirmary' by Dr GJ Muriel 1924; 'New Extensions to Workington Infirmary: History and Programme' by West Cumberland Hospital Management Committee 1966
Catalogue levelFonds

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Persons
CodePerson/Corporate namesDates
NAX26Whitehaven and West Cumberland Infirmary
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