HISTORY OF THE SECOND NORTHERN GENERAL HOSPITAL, LEEDS
Beckett Park Hospital was the City of Leeds Training College prior to its use as a military hospital during the First World War.
The chapter on the History of the Hospital outlines its transition from college to hospital.
Preparations for a military hospital in Leeds had commenced as early as 1907, when the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act set out to provide a medical service for the Territorial Forces formed in 1908. Contingency plans provided for a series of five Northern General Hospitals across the north of England. Leeds was one of the chosen locations because of its renowned Infirmary and medical school.
Within a week of the First World War being declared in August 1914, 600 beds had been installed at Beckett Park and 92 nurses were ready for duty. The first contingent of injured soldiers arrived on 17 September, and the ninety wounded men were given a civic welcome at the now-demolished Midland Station in Leeds.
The Lord Mayor, Sir Edward Brotherton, met the ambulance train dressed in full regalia, and a dense crowd assembled in City Square to cheer the ambulances as they made their way to Beckett Park Hospital in Headingley on the outskirts of Leeds. More cheering spectators lined the route, some throwing cigarettes and tobacco to the wounded soldiers. The hospital chaplain, Lieutenant Colonel J F Phillips, describes in "Leeds in the Great War" published in 1923 how "A few with support walked from the ambulance to the wards, the rest the stretcher-bearers carried. Some were entirely covered from view and of these some would not have been recognized by those who knew them best.”
The original plan was to base the military hospital at the Leeds Institute, which was only a few minutes' walk from Leeds General Infirmary. This was still the plan in 1912 when the new City of Leeds Training College at Beckett Park started admitting students. It was only when the newly-appointed Major Dobson of the RAMC (Royal Army Medical Corps) persuaded the authorities of the inadequacy of the Leeds Institute as a military hospital that Beckett Park became the designated group of buildings to accommodate wounded soldiers in the event of a war.
Having lost the use of its premises at Beckett Park, the City of Leeds Training College was obliged to rent alternative accommodation and share facilities with various schools in Leeds. A small number of students remained at Beckett Park, mainly women because most of the men had enlisted in the war. Barbed wire separated students and soldiers, but of course this could be cut...
TO READ THE FULL HISTORY OF BECKETT PARK MILITARY HOSPITAL DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR, ORDER THE BOOK "STORIES FROM THE WAR HOSPITAL" FROM THE ONLINE SHOP.
Click image to see a list of chapters in the book "Stories from the War Hospital"