Isle of Wight Hospitals - A History of the Isle Of Wight Hospitals ~ Shanklin Hospitals

A History of the Isle Of Wight Hospitals by E. F. Laidlaw

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The Shanklin Hospitals

There were three small hospitals in Shanklin; the first of these to be established was the 'Scio Hospital and Surgical Home for Children', in Scio House, Atherley Road, close to the railway station. The hospital was built and endowed by Mrs. Scaramanga of Westhill in 1891 in memory of her two sons; she was a member of the Ralli family and after her death the hospital and its contents and her endowment of it passed in the form of a trust to the care of her two brothers and in due course was passed on by them to a trusteeship of three local Shanklin men and the local branch of Lloyds Bank. It was the only hospital for children on the Island and treatment was free. The Honorary Medical Staff were Dr Dabbs and Dr John Cowper who was the surgeon and the Matron was Miss Emma Durham.

In 1910 Scio House moved to Arthur's Hill. In 1940 one of the three trustees was Mr. W.T.W. Somers who had been acting as Honorary Secretary; he left some records for an incoming secretary in which lie discusses the finances of the hospital and the staffing. The staff at that time consisted of the Matron, one sister, one assistant nurse, one senior probationer, and two probationers together with one cook and a gardener. He mentioned that nurses seldom stayed very long and often had to be hired from Southsea Nursing Homes at a charge of three guineas a week. The difficulty of course was that nurses in a small place like that got relatively little experience and little prospect of any promotion.

The endowment left by Mrs. Scaramanga provided an income equal to only about one third of the running costs of the hospital; the rest had to be found from donations, subscriptions, etc. The contributory scheme introduced at the County Hospital in the 1930s provided that any contributors who were admitted, or whose children were admitted, to Scio House would be paid for at the rate of 6s daily for up to ten weeks. Records of admissions and discharges were noted and sent to the County Hospital quarterly and this provided quite an important source of the hospital's income. That apart there were a number of donations though the only regular one came from Miss Damon, the Head Mistress of Upper Chine School; church and school collections, the Shanklin Carnival and collection boxes at Scio House itself and elsewhere in the town had to make up the rest. Endowment funds could not be used for capital expenditure, but there was a small amount of money available for this which was used to purchase a portable X-ray apparatus and other equipment. There were at this time ten beds in the hospital, two four bedded wards for girls and boys and two single wards for private patients. Some surgery, at least in an emergency, was available and I have an acquaintance who recalls being taken in there at the age of 17 about 1927 for emergency appendicectomy.

Mr. Somers, writing early in the war, when the E.M.S. was about to take over the hospitals, anticipated that a first-aid post would be set up at Scio House and the patients transferred to the 'Home of Rest'. I am not sure whether this was done, but certainly Scio House continued to function for a short time after the war and indeed was asked to take children from the County Hospital while the childrens' ward there was being redecorated. After 1946 it became a home for nurses working in the other Shanklin Hospitals and continued this function until about 1955 when it was sold and became, and now remains, a nursing home.

Winchester House at the north end of Shanklin (the Home of Rest referred to above) was originally intended as a childrens' hospital but plans were changed before it was opened and it was given by Mrs. Mary Nunn-Harvey a member of the family of Nunn who founded the lace factory at Newport to Winchester Diocese as a home for the Girls Friendly Society; during the Second World War as indicated it was taken over and used for a time as an emergency hospital.

The Arthur Webster Memorial Hospital in Landguard Manor Road was presented to the town by Lord Alverstone (Richard Webster) then Lord Chief Justice, who was also Chairman of the Royal National Hospital; it was in memory of his son Arthur who had died at the age of 28 and whose widow had suggested the idea of a cottage hospital for the town as a memorial; a large contribution to it came also from the trustees of the Harriet Parr bequest, - she was a local authoress who had diedin 1900. The memorial tablet composed by Dr Dabbs, the Chairman of the trustees, and at that time the Doyen of the Shanklin doctors, can still be seen in the entrance hall of the hospital. At the start, the hospital had six beds in two wards together with an operating theatre, dispensary, kitchen, dining and sitting rooms and domestic quarters. It is said that it was very soon fully occupied, which was taken to indicate and confirm the need that existed for it. The hospital was opened in 1905 by Princess Beatrice, Governor of the Island, and this was a great occasion for Shanklin.

In 1930 the Shanklin Rotary Society collected funds for an extension to the hospital. When the hospital was taken over by the E.M.S. early in the Second orld War it was decided that it should no longer be used for in-patients, but it has continued since then, as a clinic, with a dental surgery and especially a centre for physiotherapy, an outpost for the pathological laboratory services, and an ambulance garage.

The third hospital in Shanklin was opened as a private convalescent home, Maycroft, in 1925 by Lilian Lainsbury; the house had formerly belonged to Mr. J. Charles Wadham. It was in use then and through the Second World War as a private nursing home, but in 1946 it was purchased and taken over by the board which was then in control of the Arthur Webster Hospital and Scio House; it then became the Shanklin Cottage Hospital. Patients were admitted by the Shanklin doctors who provided the medical care there and Mr. Gaynor was the surgeon. In 1948 of course it was taken over by the National Health Service.