EPW023439 ENGLAND (1928). The King George V Sanatorium, Hydestile, 1928

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Title [EPW023439] The King George V Sanatorium, Hydestile, 1928
Reference EPW023439
Date September-1928
Place name HYDESTILE
Easting / Northing 497075, 140371
Longitude / Latitude -0.611809408729, 51.153827752291
National Grid Reference SU971404


Entrance lodge

Dan Gregory
Tuesday 3rd of June 2014 05:43:05 PM
Dining or recreation hall

Dan Gregory
Tuesday 3rd of June 2014 05:40:00 PM
Administration building

Dan Gregory
Tuesday 3rd of June 2014 05:38:17 PM
Hospital chapel

Dan Gregory
Tuesday 3rd of June 2014 05:37:14 PM
Boiler chimney

Dan Gregory
Tuesday 3rd of June 2014 05:34:02 PM

User Comment Contributions

Built by the Metropolitan Asylums Board as a Tuberculosis Isolation Hospital in 1922, Highdown Sanatorium, later the King George V Hospital, was opened to treat tuberculosis among London's poor and working classes. In 1941, a large hutted military hospital was added to the site and housed St. Thomas' Hospital, temporarily evacuated from London. The hospital closed in 1988 and was demolished in 1997. The Hydons estate was built on the site. Further reading at: http://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/42366842/Teebeeland/KGV/KGV_History.html

Dan Gregory
Tuesday 3rd of June 2014 05:30:00 PM
Extracted from an article on http://www.hambledonsurrey.co.uk/history/


By Dr. J.V. Hurford

As published in the last ever KGV Gazette Summer 1968 upon the closing of the Hospital:

The Highdown Sanatorium which started at Hydestile in 1922 was soon, by gracious permission, allowed to take the name of "King George the Fifth”... However, it is told that his Majesty, when asked if he would condescend to come to the opening {in 1924) said: "Not on your life - visit a T. B. hospital - I might catch it " - or words to that effect. These fears were felt by dwellers in the locality, even by their G. P. s, who met the choice of site with as much opposition as now would be offered to an aerodrome for jumbo jets. Though the sanatorium was modern for the time (incorporating an early form of re-inforced concrete in its pavilion walls), the money which the authority {then the Metropolitan Asylums Board - crest over the entrance to the administrative block) was prepared to spend on it ran out before the plans could be fulfilled, so that the main entrance was from a narrow lane (Salt Lane) rather than by a more imposing approach from the Hambledon Road.

There are aerial photographs which show the site in the early twenties. Though surrounded apparently by forest (the Hare's Grove which gave a name to the Medical Superintendent's house) the actual grounds were quite bare. The beautiful limes and birches and ornamental trees and shrubs may be credited to Dr. James Watt - a canny gardener as well as a towering medical figure - and grew up during his reign. The hospital really was in the country (in 1935 when I first saw it as a member of a visiting D. P. H. class from London, I half wondered if we should ever find our way back) and in its building workmen were accommodated in wooden chalets, used for many years as staff quarters, and plans and materials stored in two wooden huts which still do service though very decrepit.

In 1949 the wards were still without heating, other than the thin pipes under the windows designed, so it was said, to reduce condensation - in itself unlikely since windows had to be kept open. A few years later this was remedied, but the previous absence of heating was symptomatic of an age, the age of the "cure", based on 'Sanatorium principles' of fresh air, good food, rest, graduated exercise. This age lasted into the 'antibiotic era' and both were overlapped by that of minor and major surgery. To those who know tuberculosis as a disease fairly easily treated by chemotherapy, the long periods which started perhaps with Hippocrates and died away in the fifties of this century cannot be imagined or fully understood. Artificial pneumothorax, pneumoperitoneum, thoracoplasty and so on seem almost bizarre in retrospect.

Yet the 'cure' and the surgery did save lives. And what seemed spartan routine was much more vital and engrossing. Quite apart from the attentions of the doctors and nurses a patient's week could be filled with: occupational therapy, art therapy, typing, learning a language, woodwork, printing, concerts and whist drives, inter-ward sports - shove-halfpenny, table skittles, croquet, billiards etc. There were a silver shield and two cups to be competed for. When Marcus Patterson devised "graduated exercise " at Frimley he used baskets of stones of various weights

At K.G.V. there were walks increasing in length and then outdoor tasks. Many a patient must have acquired there a love for gardening or even pigs! “Teebeeland” seemed to be regarded with a wry humour. Perhaps the uni-sexual nature of the sanatorium (women patients came only in the late fifties) was a trial and the outlook of the authorities far too monastic - rather backward looking.

But in other respects, for many years we were in the van of sanatorium work. With its first surgeon - Mr. J. E. H. Roberts, whom I always imagine operating with a Petit Caporal hanging to his lower lip - major surgery in anew theatre started in 1933. K.G.V. took part in all the M.R. C. Trials of the new anti- tuberculous drugs from 1949 onwards. Whilst such units were still rare in the U. K. a respiratory function laboratory was inaugurated in 1954.

The antibiotic era which came with the fifties for some years increased the use of surgery, largely because an umbrella was provided for lung or part-lung removal.

In 1955, of patients admitted with tuberculosis, 58% had a major operation; the figure for 1967 was 3%. However, what was so amazing was the decline in tuberculosis due to anti- tuberculous drugs. The great physicians of the past - Robert Philip, Trudeau, Marcus Patterson - could never have imagined it. K.G.V., like other sanatoria (or Hospital for Diseases of the Chest as it became) began to admit patients with other complaints. Since these stayed a shorter time, the turnover accelerated. In 1951 there were 401 admissions (354 tuberculous), in 1967, 1358 (135 tuberculous).

Starting under the rule of the M.A .B., the hospital became a jewel in the crown of the gargantuan London County Council in 1929, and in 1948 of course entered the National Health Service. These authorities appeared to differ in administrative approach, but of course this depended on other things - the changing conception of disease, uniformity and availability of finance over the country rather than a metropol is and so on.

The War did not alter things very much, -it saw the appearance of an E.M.S. hutted hospital, at first under the aegis of K. G. V., then of the Australian Army Medical Corps, and finally St. Thomas's Hospital, Westminster. The expatriate staff of the latter organised their lives with the ingenuity and cheerfulness of castaways on a South Sea Island, who know that sooner or later they are bound to be rescued. Every year they expected this to happen and, finally, after twenty-three years, it did.

K.G.V. has seemed to be blessed by the numbers of sterling people who remained on the staff for very long periods, even at this present date in one or two instances going back to the twenties. Perhaps other hospitals have been as fortunate, but I doubt it. Inevitably, sad little ceremonies of farewell have sprinkled later years. Till the middle-fifties a generous and mutually useful policy had meant the recruitment of many excellent nurses - who happened themselves to have had tuberculosis, and to whom a place on the staff was offered for re-habilitation. These were known for some reason as 'trainees', presumably because they could complete training in the B.T.A. certificate (though many already had an S.R.N.). In the later years of the hospital, a Pupil-Nurse training school was set up in conjunction with Haslemere General Hospital, and was successful. In our 'middle period' a number of decorative, charming and efficient young things were very much appreciated - these were the 'Tommy Nurses' seconded for three months at a time to explore the countryside on their bicycles.

The staff has tended to be cosmopolitan. At one Christmas dinner some years ago, I counted nineteen different nationalities. There were cycles of “foreigners" (I refer to those who were not what St. Joan called the 'Goddam English"): early on Scots and Irish, but mostly Irish, then Italian and Polish or Baltic, then Spanish and Yugo-Slav. (It was touching to see girls from Northern Italy trying to understand the intrcacies of Scottish dancing!) And of course, in the last ten years many men and girls from the Commonwealth, all very welcome.

Sunday 2nd of March 2014 02:35:19 PM