‘The Essex & Colchester Hospital’ was opened in 1820, following a plan by the Colchester Archdeacon to open a hospital for the poor. Along with seven other men, a plot of land was purchased and one of the country’s first hospitals for the poor was opened. It was funded by subscriptions and gifts from wealthy donors however from the 1920’s funding was so tight that in-patients were charged £1 a week for their care.
Initially just one small building, over the years numerous expansions were added such as two new wings in 1825 and a Nurses’ Home which was built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. It was in 1907 when the name of the hospital was changed to ‘Essex County Hospital’.
The hospital played a crucial role in the First World War as it received patients from the nearby Military Hospital. Wooden huts were built within the hospital grounds and marquees were erected for extra beds, allowing the hospital to treat patients coming directly from ambulance trains.
In 1948 the voluntry hospitals in Colchester came under the North East Metropolitan regional hospital board of the NHS and went on to become under the management of the Colchester Hospital Group, linking this site with Severalls and more.
‘EchHeritage‘ has a wonderful collection of photos of the hospital on their Flickr account, from staff photos in the early 20th to more recent photos of the hospital.
Planning started in 1985 for a new District General Hospital, which was planned to replace the several smaller hospitals in Colchester. In August 2020 demolition plans were given the green light for the newer sections of the building to be demolished to make way for 120 homes. Fortunately the main building is Grade II listed and will be converted into 70 houses and apartments, with the outbuildings making room for 50 homes. We visited in August 2021 to see how demolition was taking shape.
Sources: GreatWarHomeHospitals, Daily Gazette, British History Online