Corbett Hospital Timeline

by

Helen Cook

      1877_  March
     George Mills, a glass manufacturer, moved house from Park Field House in Brettell Lane to The Hill.

      1885_  13th  November  
     George Mills shot himself on the 13th November 1885 at Five Ways, Iverley. He left debts of £11,344-12s-6d.

      1886_  8th  March  
     The contents of The Hill were auctioned by Mrs. Mary Kate Mills to raise money to pay creditors.

      1891_  December
     Mrs. Mary Kate Mills sold The Hill 30 acre estate to John Corbett Esq. MP. He paid £6,500.

      1892   12th January
     Conveyance of “The Hill” 30 acre Estate from Mrs. Mary Kate Mills to John Corbett Esq. M.P.

      1892   May
     John Corbett offered the house and land plus £20,000 as an endowment, and £2,000 to be used for the conversion into to an 18-bed hospital to serve the people of Stourbridge and district.

      1892   13th September
     John Corbett conveyed The Hill estate to trustees one of the trustees was his brother Dr. Thomas Corbett.

      1893   Monday  31st July   Hospital Opening
     The Corbett Hospital was formally opened by Viscountess Cobham a golden key was specially made for the ceremony.

      From a report County Express   Saturday   August 5th 1893

      The Lord Bishop of Worcester then offered up a special prayer for the well-being of the hospital, after which Mr. Corbett presented Lady Cobham with a gold key to open it with.

      The Gold Key which is 6½in. long, has on the reverse side the monogram “C.H.” in blue and red enamel, with a red ribbon scroll, “ Corbett Hospital, Stourbridge, 1893 in blue and red panel. The top is a figure of Moses and the Serpent, of classical design. Obverse: Presented by J. Corbett, Esq., to the Viscountess Cobham on the opening of the Corbett Hospital, July 31st, 1893”.

      The selection of the design for the key was entrusted to Dr. D’Arcy Ellis. and executed by Messrs. Elkington. It is a beautiful and valuable specimen of art workmanship, and a handsome case is provided for it.

      The key is said to have been displayed in the boardroom with other memorabilia, the key disappeared, for years its whereabouts or how it has disappeared has remained a mystery.

      The Luncheon      

      The luncheon took place in a marquee near the Hospital, and there was a large company present. Viscount Cobham presided. Mr. Corbett was unable to remain to the luncheon. (We think due to ill health)

      The Fete

      A fete followed the opening of the Hospital on the afternoon, organized by the United Friendly Society. 18,000 people attended this. There was a glass exhibition, flower show, conjurers, jugglers, Punch and Judy, gymnastics, singers, side shows, beer tents. It raised £224 for the hospital with expenses of £95.

      Band concerts at the fetes were extremely popular that in 1903 a bandstand was erected in the hospital’s grounds costing £220, John Corbett contributed £120 towards the cost.

      1893  1st  August
     The Hospital was opened for the admission of patients.

      1897
    The Fete was extended to two days and was a major event in the area over August Bank Holidays, attracting crowds of up 30,000 strong. Major events such as the Stourbridge and District Horse Show and Gymkhana, flower shows, Cage Bird Society, balloon ascents and many attractions, ending with a spectacular firework display, were regular events, raising much needed funds towards the hospital. These fetes ceased in the early 1960s. These were held in the beautiful 30 acre meadowland/parkland which was part of “The Hill” estate, some of which remains today.

     Up until 1948 money was raised for the hospital by generous public donations and many events organized by various societies and committees such as The Oddfellows and Friendly Societies, plus the Heath Park Demonstration Committee, the Cyclists’ Demonstration Committee, and the Hospital Sunday Committee. Other events to raise money were held with flag days, concerts and cricket matches’, A Carnival Committee was formed and provided many interesting and enjoyable events to raise money.

      1894
     A portrait of John Corbett by artist Henry Tanworth Wells had been presented to the hospital in 1894, and in the following year it was exhibited at the Royal Academy. Henry Tanworth Wells (1828–1903) was an English miniature and portrait painter. He was a member of the Pre-Raphaelite circle though he painted in the academic style. His most popular painting was Victoria Regina, showing the young princess Victoria hearing the news that she was to accede to the throne.

      1895 -1896
     More beds were added and a much-needed children’s ward was opened, John Corbett defrayed the expense.

      1897-1899
     Necessary isolation wards were added.

      1900
     A house was built in the hospital grounds adjacent to High Street Amblecote, for honorary surgeon Dr. Hyacinth D’Arcy Ellis, so he could be on call. The house was called “Hill House”, named after "The Hill", which was to become the hospital, and which still retains that name today. Dr. Ellis was a life long friend of John Corbett and it is believed that it was Dr. Ellis who played a major part in persuading John to buy the land and house for the hospital.

      1902
     The Corbett Hospital report for the year ending 30th June 1902 makes interesting reading. No National Health Service in 1902 !!!

      1903
     A 1903 postcard and map.

      1914 - 18    The Great War
     The hospital was rated as a First Line Hospital in the late war, and involved using the Out-Patient Department as a ward for wounded soldiers.

      1920
     Postcard of the Hospital published about 1920.

      1932  13th June
     Official programme for the "Stourbridge 2nd Annual Carnaval Sports", held "In aid of the Corbett Hospital, Stourbridge".

      1934  2nd June
     After the war effort, it was decided that there needed to be a large rebuilding plan and full advantage of the site should be taken in the planning of the buildings. The plans were for five units to include, an Out-Patient Department, spacious Male and Female wards. Also planned were an Operating Theatre, with various rooms for the use of surgeons and sisters, plus Day Rooms, Private Wards, and Sterilizing Rooms. Other additions were to be kitchens, larders, a dining room, and a Children’s ward with a playroom. Administration offices and a Matrons office were also to be added.

     The new hospital, when completed, would contain 84 beds, and this would qualify the hospital as a Training Centre for Nurses. The last unit would be the Nurses’ Home, comprising of sitting and recreation rooms, lecture rooms, a quiet room, and would be provid accommodation of thirty-six bedrooms, including bathrooms, kitchen and offices.

     The board had reason to believe that the Corbett Hospital will be one of the finest and most modern hospitals of its size in the country. Sadly, when this building program was completed not much of the old Mansion remained. When completed, the rebuilt hospital consisted of five units, joined by corridors. The hospital was officially opened by the Hospital President, John Cavendish Littleton, the Viscount Cobham 2nd June 1934. It was all funded by public donations and by many charitable events and voluntary contributions.

     The portrait of John Corbett by Henry Tanworth Wells was hung in the front hall of the Hospital.

      1946
     The National Health Service Act of 1946 came into being. The Corbett Hospital became a part of the National Health Service in July 1948 and the responsibility of the Minister of Health. Prior to this the hospital was supported by private donations and funds raised by major events organized by the local community.

      1948   May
     The Corbett Hospital Preliminary Training School was opened in 1948 on the formation of the National Health Service, providing accommodation for 12 medical students.

      1961   May
     Tenders were invited for the building of a new Out-Patient and Accident Department.

      1961   1st  November
     Messrs J Hickman & Son (Brierley Hill) Ltd began work on the site, which lies in the south-west corner of the Hospital grounds.

      1964   1st  May
     The work was completed on time, and the new building handed over to the Hospital Authorities.

      1964   Saturday  3rd October
     Under the Birmingham and Regional Hospital Board, the Stourbridge and Distict Hospital Management Committee took charge of the new Out-Patient and Accident Department, and S. Woodhouse, Esq., Chairman of the Management Committee, performed the opening ceremony.The new building had pedestrian and ambulance access from Vicarage Road.

      By the mid 1960s the Corbett Hospital provided Stourbridge and district with all of the facilities of a modern general hospital.

      1968
     The Corbett Hospital League of Friends was formed to raise money for items to provide for the comfort of the patients.

      1972   Local Government Act
     Under this Act, Stourbridge and District was absorbed into the new Metropolitan Borough of Dudley.

      1974
     Dudley Health Authority replaced the Hospital Management Committee, under the control of the West Midlands Regional Health Authority.

      1975
     The portrait of John Corbett was found standing in an office facing the wall, maybe symbolizing the disapproval of the old man with what was happening to his house. It almost seemed as if he had been forgotten at this point in time.

      1976   Russell’s Hall --  Dudley's   “Super Hospital”

     It was built in 1976 as a “super hospital”, but due to a shortage of equipment, it did not admit patients until 1984, when it was officially opened by the Princess Royal.

      1980s Government Health Reforms
     Following Dudley Health Authority meetings, plans to wind down the services at the local hospitals including The Guest, Wordsley Hospital, and the Corbett Hospital, were formulated, leading to their eventual closure. The plan was to centralize all health services at Russell’s Hall Hospital, Dudley.

      Late 1980s and 1990s
     Following the public announcement to close the local hospitals, campaigns were launched to try and save our hospital. John Corbett’s generous donation to the people of Stourbridge was not forgotten, and the public and medical staff reminded Dudley Health Authority of just that. There were mass public protests, the holding of demonstrations, marches,and by bombarding the Authorities management, Local, and Central Government with letters and petitions protesting against the Hospital closures. They were strongly reminded of John Corbett’s gift to the people of Stourbridge and it’s district, and which they felt so passionately about losing. This was followed by a proposal to sell the remaining grounds of the hospital, the meadow, for a proposed housing development. This proposal raised further public outrage at the loss of an open space, and it went to a public inquiry where permission was refused.

      1992
     Plans were unveiled for Russell’s Hall to be expanded as part of the plans to close other local hospitals, as well as the Corbett Hospital. There was much protest against this and over the next few years there were several amendments to the proposals.

      1893 – 1993   Corbett Hospital Centenary
     The Hospital celebrated its 100 years. An Oak tree was planted in the Meadow to mark the Centenary.
     The Hospital’s League of Friends celebrated its 25th Anniversary 1968-1993

      1998
     In April 1998, after all of the campaigns, it was decided that Wordsley Hospital would close completely and Corbett and Dudley Guest would be downsized to out-patient services only, with Russell’s Hall being expanded to include all of the Borough's in-patient services. The first phases of the work were completed in 2004 and the expansion was completed during 2005, by which time Russell’s Hall had doubled in size. Much of the existing hospital was also refurbished. The Princess Royal opened the revamped hospital on 22 February 2006 – 22 years after she had opened the original hospital.

      2001
     Work started on the construction of the New Corbett Hospital, in the Meadow to the east of the of the old Hospital, further along Vicarage Road, Amblecote. The architecture is of a horseshoe-shape building. The footings of the new building encroached onto the meadowland reducing the acreage and losing some beautiful mature trees and garden areas. The Centenary Oak tree had to be moved and replanted but it did not survive. After long discussions and after some time another tree was planted and a plaque to commemorate the centenary has been placed by the tree. This can be viewed from the New hospital’s restaurant.

Aerial view of the Corbett Hospital, the Old Hospital is at the bottom of the photograph, and the new replacement at the top of the photograph. Taken September 2002.

      2005   5th May
     The Corbett Hospital is closed. THE END was seen written on one of the walls. It was like the staff had just down tools and walked out leaving everything behind. The whole building echoed with sadness. John Corbett’s coat of Arms, the brass plaque engraved with the names of the original trustees from 1892, which were on display in the original building, were removed and put into storage.

      2005    Spring
     The Ambulatory and Day Care Hospital is opened to patients and is now called The Corbett Outpatients Centre. On 25th May 2007 a visit was made by Prime Minister Tony Blair when the official opening ceremony was conducted. The Outpatients Centre has no overnight stays.

      2006   March
     The Out-Patient and Accident Department at the Corbett Hospital is demolished. Stourbridge Health and Social Care Centre is built, financed by Dudley Primary Care Trust (P.C.T.)

      2007   5th July    Express & Star Report
     A historic Black Country hospital building has been sold in a deal between the NHS trust and a housing developer.

     The final part of the giant former Corbett Hospital site in Amblecote, Stourbridge, has been sold to David Payne Homes for an undisclosed sum.

     The land, which sits between Vicarage Road and the High Street, includes the original Corbett Hospital building, which opened in 1893 and was at the heart of the community for decades.

     Annexes of the original hospital have already been demolished and new medical facilities built in their place, run by Dudley Primary Care Trust.

     Bromsgrove-based David Payne Homes is now likely to build a number of homes surrounding the new medical centre on the land they have bought.

     Dudley Group of Hospitals spokesman would not today reveal how much was made from the sale.

     She said: “The trust can confirm that it has completed the land sale of the Corbett Hospital.

      2007   Dec  -  2008   Jan
     The Corbett Hospital is demolished and the whole area of where “The Hill”, an historic mansion in Amblecote, stood since the early 1700s, is now leveled out ready for 87 homes to be built. The demolition was carried out by developers David Payne Homes, who purchased the old Hospital buildings, and who went into liquidation shortly after the demolition.

      2010   January
     David Wilson Homes take over the site and build 87 Homes. John Corbett’s memory and connection to Amblecote was remembered by naming the housing estate Impney Grange, with the access road named John Corbett Drive.

     I wonder, would John Corbett have realized what he had set up when he purchased a Georgian house, “The Hill”, and its estate in Amblecote near Stourbridge. Together with the other great benefactors across the country that purchased buildings and land to set up cottage hospitals, and which have now become the multi billion pound NHS organization we have today. Still today, the people of Stourbridge and district have never forgotten his great gift. This has been proved by various campaigns held in desperation to save our Hospital during the Governments Health reforms in the 70s and 80s and in 1992 to save the remaining meadow, This was the site where the famous annual Bank Holiday Fetes were held, where the public worked tirelessly to raise funds and gave money generously towards the Hospital up-keep. The Corbett Hospital League of Friends continued raising funds after the fetes had finished, these were originally for luxury items for the comfort of the patients, but later were needed for vital medical equipment.

     But it seems John was still sadly dismissed by the great NHS organization. His portrait again became a centre of attention, as during the hospital re-organization the portrait was placed into store, and again it took public pressure to get it restored and re-hung, where it now can be seen in the new Corbett Outpatients Restaurant.

     It is still debated as to whether a housing development should have been placed on the footings of the site of the old mansion “The Hill” and the old Corbett Hospital. In 2007 the old hospital buildings were sold and demolished. In the Corbett Hospital Constitution, established by the Trust Deed on 13th March 1892, the Trust deed states that the Estate and the land should be used for medical purposes or a public park to serve Stourbridge and District.

     Let’s hope of what little remains of the meadow may eventually become a public park in John Corbett’s name, and will then honor the Hospital Constitution.

     

     

     

     

     

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