'Remember When': ‘Smithy’ was hospital’s first patient

Knutsford Guardian: The Cottage Hospital as viewed from Northwich Road The Cottage Hospital as viewed from Northwich Road

THE future of one of Knutsford’s favourite buildings has been a hot talking point in the town this week.

News of the British Red Cross-operated Poppies Nursery moving out of the former Cottage Hospital on Northwich Road – now known as Memorial House – has resulted in Guardian readers offering their memories of the building.

Thanks to pictures supplied by Knutsford Heritage Centre volunteer Mary Gracie, readers can see what the building looked like shortly after completion.

They show a Mr Sherlock at the entrance to the building.

Wording on the back of the postcard picture states that he was a smithy at ‘Browns’ and was the first person to be treated by the medical staff.

The Knutsford and District Cottage Hospital was built as a memorial to those who fell in the Great War of 1914 to 1918, with the building funds raised by public subscription.

It opened in 1922 and contained three wards, one for men, another for women, and a third for the elderly, plus an operating theatre and a sister’s flat for the matron.

Mr Godfrey was the local surgeon and operated at Altrincham General Hospital.

The land for the hospital was given by the Leicester Family of Tabley House, together with five acres of land at the rear, with strict guidelines that the land and buildings were to be used only as a hospital.

It is common knowledge in the town that when the NHS closed it down, the Leicester family made sure it could not be sold, in a similar covenant in place at the Westminster Hospital in London.

It was at that point that the British Red Cross decided to take on the building.

Knutsford resident Bill Coburn told the Guardian he had heard similar regarding the future of the building.

“I was told if it was not used for medical purposes then it reverts back to the estate,” he said.

“The Red Cross is on the edge of being considered as medical, so that’s why they took it on.”

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