The Brooksbank Hospital
Did you know that there were three hospitals in the Greater Elland district about 100 years ago? The Isolation Hospital at Hollins Hey was opened in 1892. The Plains (or Planes) Hospital in Plains Lane was opened in January 1917. Both these properties are now private residences. The third and final Elland hospital was opened on March 28th 1917 at the former Grammar School in Westgate. This building was demolished in the 1960s. It will be remembered as the ‘Brooksbank Annex’ to Elland C of E School.
The opening ceremony was a grand affair. Many local dignitaries were present although the mayors of Halifax and Huddersfield sent letters of regret for their non-attendance. John Dempster of Cheshire sent a cheque for £25 (over £1000 today). All funding had been raised via voluntary subscriptions. Councillor Sam Lumb presented Miss Beaumont of Westroyde with a key. She then formally opened the hospital and delivered a short speech – ‘I have great pleasure in declaring the Brooksbank Auxiliary Military Hospital open. I hope that all the helpers will try to make the soldiers happy during their stay in the institution. I feel sure that all the Elland townspeople are anxious to show their appreciation of the sacrifice which the soldiers and sailors were making on their behalf.’
Comment was made that it was most appropriate that a building that had been constructed to improve the education of our young men, but had laid empty since the school’s relocation to Victoria Road, should be adapted for another public ideal by catering for the health needs of our servicemen. Dr Hoyle said that he very much hoped that the hospital would be retained for the people of Elland and district after the war was won.
A ground tour of the hospital followed the opened ceremony. It was noted that the utmost care had been bestowed upon every detail and nothing that could be utilised in the old building had been cast away. The chief concern had been to provide comfort for soldiers resting in the hospital and also assist the convenience for those who minister to the many wants of our brave lads.
Provision had been made for 45 beds and a window had been constructed upon the western side to shed more light into the old school. Furthermore buildings at the far end of New Street had been purchased with a view to be demolished to enhance the estate of the hospital. Further improvements included a new heating system, dining room, ladies’ room, raised platform that would be suitable for an orchestra or concerts to be held without interfering with the work going on!
All very public-spirited but the hospital reverted back to being a school building after the war ended. It was last in use during late 50s/early 60s and became redundant when Elland Grammar School turned comprehensive.
Finally a thank you to Fred Williams for advising that St. John's Ambulance HQ was based at the former hospital in the 1960s until the building was demolished.
David J. Glanfield
Greater Elland Historical Society
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