Yate Heritage Centre: A history of hospitals in Yate and Sodbury

April 30 2019
Yate Heritage Centre: A history of hospitals in Yate and Sodbury

TODAY, hospitals may seem quite remote to many of us. Where once there were local hospitals, many patients now have to travel several miles to Southmead Hospital.

For much of the history of Yate and Sodbury, hospital provision was non-existent – and yet the area can be proud of its contribution to medicine. Edward Jenner is credited with finding the cure for smallpox and is inextricably associated with Berkeley. Nevertheless, he undertook much of his early work alongside Daniel Ludlow in Chipping Sodbury in the later 18th century. Ludlow himself appears to be the forgotten man in the smallpox story, but he created a smallpox isolation hospital on Sodbury Common.

In the 19th and 20th centuries doctors became prominent and upstanding members of the community, inhabiting many of the larger properties in Sodbury. The Ludlow family of Moda House and the Grace Family, of which WG Grace was a member, were leading lights.

Although medical provision was very piecemeal before the NHS began in 1948, there were several hospitals in the area. For those unable to care for themselves the Union Workhouse might be the only option and by the 20th century the chronic hospital there catered for those with long standing illnesses.

In 1870, a small charitable hospital was set up by the Burges Family of Ridge House for those able to pay 3 shillings a week. But it was the First World War which highlighted the need for local hospitals: the industrial scale of injuries to service personnel prompted hospitals at Hartley House, Chipping Sodbury, Horton Hall and Hawkesbury, while many local women became voluntary nurses.

The legacy from wartime was the War Memorial Hospital, pictured, which served the local small community of Yate and Sodbury from the early 1920s. It could only realistically deal with certain demands and was the local maternity hospital from the early 1950s to 1988. Its great claim to fame is, of course, as the birthplace of JK Rowling in 1965.

In Sickness and in Health will be at Yate Heritage Centre from May 8 to June 26 and many medical implements from the 20th century will be on display as part of the exhibition.


Dates for your Diaries

Until May 7: Victorian Yate, the history of the people, buildings and industry with made the parish plus previously unseen objects for our collection.

May 8 – June 26: In Sickness and in Health exhibition.

May 15, 7.30pm: Yate Archaeology Group – The Bristol Brass Industry with Tony Coverdale. £3 admission or free for members of YaDAG

May 21, 7.30pm: Yate Lecture Series – History of Friendly Societies in the South-West. £2 admission or free for Friends of YHC. Funded by Friends of YHC.

May 29, 10.30am or 1.30pm: Holiday workshop – make your own Jack in the box, cup and ball and optical illusion. Ideal for children 5-12. Booking essential