A history of Bradwell hospital
In 1885, on June 1st, an agreement was made
between the Wolstanton and Burslem Sanitary Authority, and the Local
Board of Tunstall to acquire some land and erect a Sanatorium at
Bradwell. With the agreement of the Mayor, Alderman and Burgess's of
the Borough of Burslem and the Tunstall Local Board this was done.
The site cost £3,500 complete with buildings.
The subsequent erection of the Hospital was
carried out by a committee consisting of three members of the
Sanitary Authority and 2 members each of the Corporation and the
The Sanitary Board undertook to do their best to
maintain the Hospital in an efficient state of management and
provide it with all necessary articles of bedding, clothing and
other necessary articles, including food, wines and spirits.
Anything in fact needed for the upkeep and care of the patients.
At the time of purchasing the site
on Talke Road was an earth packed road, the main road through to the
North. The site chosen was in an area rich in history, and by change
of uses was to show the changes in medical history in this country.
in and around the area is recorded as far back as the time of
King Henry III, when it belonged to a knight, Randolph Cnuton,
who gave name before moving to Silverdale for the hunting.
After several changes of ownership the land came into the
ownership of the Sneyd or Snead family, who again lived there
for a time before moving to Keele to be nearer to relatives.
The Sneyds had met the famous Eler brothers at court in London
and did lease Bradwell Hall to them for a time. The Eler
brothers, a family of potters, related to quite a few crown
heads in Europe, had an interest in pottery, and it was news
of the quality of marl obtained locally that attracted them in
the first place. Famous for their red teapots, they resided
some time at the Hall and I believe some of their decorative
work is still in existence over one of the fireplaces. For
many years after, the people who farmed the land found bits of
pottery in the ground when carrying out farming jobs. When
these famous earthenware teapots were sold in London they
fetched a guinea a time, an awful lot of money for the time,
Below the Hospital site, now Dimsdale, a
battle was fought between the Kings troops and the Roundheads.
Not too far away is the village of Chesterton, known in Roman
times, and also Red Street which had its name from a battle.
Opening in 1886 as a Fever Hospital and
known locally as Brada, the Hospital took patients from a wide area.
Scarlet Fever and Diphtheria at this time killed, or left badly
disabled, the children of all families, rich or poor, as there was
no protection against these diseases. Measles and Whooping Cough
also scourged the country. Year after year families lost children to
these terrible diseases. Inoculation, vaccination and antibiotics
have all but wiped out these diseases in our time. The spread of one
of these diseases through a family or village was rapid. With the
event of the Hospitals opening, suspected patients were admitted and
isolated from family and friends.
One ex-patient admitted with scarlet fever at
the age of five in 1917 told the following story:
"My brother, then aged about
three, and I were taken to Bradwell in a box like affair, drawn by
a horse. I could hear the clip-clop of the horses hooves on the
old tram lines coming in from Silverdale, then up Milehouse Lane,
which was a dirt track just wide enough for two horse drawn
carriages to pass.
The pub was on the opposite side of the road leading to Wolstanton,
and only small nothing like the present one. From Milehouse to the
hospital building, the road had no other building. (The only other
building locally on the road was another small public house about
the same distance away from the Hospital going north).
At the time my brother and I had scarlet fever, there was
apparently an epidemic in the area. We were put in cots on arrival
at the hospital. The only time I saw my mother was when she was
sent for because my brother was dying. Mother came into the ward
dressed in a long white gown and cap, I put my arms up and cried
to my mother, but she was not allowed to come to me. When I was
discharged, they made a mistake and nearly did not let me go, as I
had contracted chickenpox whilst a patient, but staff felt I was
well enough to go home. I remember my mother carrying me to the
tram, it stopped at the junction of the road to Talke and the road
to Chesterton, from there we went to Newcastle and caught the tram
to Silverdale. Though I had been ill and lost a lot of weight, and
my legs felt very weak, I must have been a heavy load for my
Mother, she was very small. The local butcher saw us getting off
the tram and told my Mother I looked fit to go the same way as my
brother had. Times were hard then, later on my father was killed
and it was just me and my Mother."
Another patient admitted in 1916 aged four years
from May Bank had similar memories. He was brought to the hospital
on a horse, the only way to the Hospital then being the road through
Wolstanton to Milehouse, and then up to Bradwell. He remembered the
empty road, the only noise apart from the old steam traffic, which
carried heavy loads going distances of ten miles or more. The
Hospital itself was surrounded by farmland. A lot of vegetables were
grown on site to help with the food supply for patients.
All the persons spoken to remember there was
plenty of food, mostly mince meats. At Christmas the children had
pillowcases full of toys, all toys brought in had to be equally
divided. On discharge the children could not take them home as they
could have held infection, but staff presented them with a bag of
marbles, which they could take home. One gentleman still has a few
Children admitted to the Hospital during the
1940's remember vividly the brick walls built in front of the
windows to stop light escaping. This would be the period of the
From the beginning visitors were not allowed and
could only come to the administration block to make enquiries about
their loved ones. Whilst this was done in an effort to prevent the
spread of infection, it must have been very hard on all the family.
Gifts had to be handed in at the front of the Hospital through a
window to the left of the front door.
Enlargement in 1915:
During this time the Hospital had a constant flow of patients and it
was found necessary to enlarge it in 1915. These buildings still
stand and were in use at the time of writing. Although having had
many additional amenities and having been upgraded on occasion,
these were the same buildings.
Following the war years vaccination, immunisation
and antibiotics, with better diets and hygiene, these diseases
became almost eradicated. Only isolated cases now occur and with
care are very rarely fatal. All this meant the Hospital had outlived
its use. For a time the hospital closed and the staff dispersed. The
odd infectious patient went to Bucknall Hospital. Soon a use was
found for the Hospital. A new scourge had become treatable.
Following the war Tuberculosis was rampant all over Europe. Released
prisoners of war, English and other nationalities suffered, families
spent hours in air raid shelters where infection was easily spread.
The hospital opened as a 44 bedded sanatoria for
male patients. These patients came from all over the Midlands.
Medicines came to the Hospital via the City General Pharmacy.
Patients went to the City General for x-rays in the hospital
ambulance. Many patients came via the Cheshire Joint Hospital,
others from sanatoria in the Midlands. Already attitudes towards
visitors had started to change. Visitors came from the Black Country
every Sunday afternoon come rain or shine. Patients were allowed
into Chesterton Village for shopping. On odd occasions, physical
conditions maintained, even Newcastle was visited for cream cakes.
Now been found that could help to fight the
disease, diet and rest had become an essential part of the
treatment. All privileges had to be earned by a sign of improvement.
During this time one of the blocks of wards was
named "Bennion Ward" in honour of Dr Bennion who ran the Shelton
Chest Clinic and visited the hospital regularly.
The rigid regime the patients had to live by was
brightened up by the cheerfulness of staff, the visitors and mostly
sedentary amusements. The advent of television and being allowed to
watch Saturday afternoon sport is well remembered. Greatly enjoyed
was the piano playing and sing songs.
New Bradwell Hospital
the A34 Talke Road to the left
The replacement hospital 1987:
By 1975 the hospital had been identified as in need of replacement.
Funds had been allocated by the Regional Health Authority to provide
a replacement hospital which would also take patients from Lymewood
Work began on the site in April
1985 and the building was completed on 30 October 1987. The cost of
the hospital was £5.3 million, including £500,000 for furniture and
equipment. The single story building provides four wards plus
supporting service accommodation.