2000s: Leeds General Infirmary

I remember it well, the record collection from Leeds General Infirmary. It was 2008, the 6th of November to be precise, and six of us from the archive service were tiptoeing down the upper halls of the hospital, passed doctors and nurses sleeping after a nightshift.  I don’t know if you’ve ever tried tiptoeing whilst carrying a heavy cardboard box but I can tell you from experience that it’s pretty darn tricky.  We were not being particularly quiet (despite our best efforts) but carrying almost 300 heavy boxes along a passageway, through several sets of doors and then down two flights of stairs is bound to cause a certain degree of huffing and puffing.  It didn’t help that one of us, we discovered that day, was physically incapable of whispering.  I mean, I didn’t even know that was a thing??   They were trying, really really hard, but their ‘whispers’ were loud enough to wake the dead.  I can only apologise to any NHS staff we woke up that November day with our rowdy whispers and incessant wheezing.

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The transfer of records into the archives had been in the pipeline for a number of years; former colleagues had listed the collection over the course of a few weeks in 2001 and we were very glad to eventually take in, preserve and make accessible, the vast LGI archive in 2008. It’s a fantastic collection and I can’t do it justice in one short blog.  The LGI archive covers the running of the hospital from 1767, when John Carr, architect, was approached to design the buildings, right through to the present day.  As part of NHS70 we’ve been celebrating the launch of the LGI online catalogue recently and have blogged a few times about some of the brilliant items in the collection.  What some people don’t realise though, is that as well as documenting the history of the staff, patients and buildings of the Leeds General Infirmary, the records we collected that day in 2008 also document many other Leeds hospitals:

Leeds House of Recovery

This hospital was paid for by public subscription in response to an epidemic of 1801-1802 and opened, on Vicar Lane, as a hospital for infectious diseases in 1804. In 1846 it moved to Beckett Street, Burmantofts and in 1885 was purchased by Leeds Corporation.  The records include committee minutes 1824-1883 and annual reports 1808-1860.

Killingbeck Hospital/Sanatorium

Kililngbeck was planned in 1899 as an annexe to Seacroft for infectious diseases, particularly smallpox and was built in the grounds of the mansion of Killingbeck Hall. Between 1900 and 1903 temporary wooden and iron pavilions were erected for smallpox patients.  A permanent ward opened 1904 in the same year as Seacroft Hospital opened on the opposite side of York Road.  It was used as an annexe to Seacroft until 1912 when it became a Tuberculosis sanatorium, linked to Gateforth Sanatorium near Selby.  It was used as a military hospital during the First World War and returned to public use in 1919.  By the 1950s, as the number of Tuberculosis cases reduced, the hospital took on other thoracic and later cardiac cases.  In 1989 the first heart transplant was carried out in Leeds.  And in 1997 the hospital closed, the patients being transferred to the Leeds General Infirmary.  Records include minute books 1964-1971; newspaper cuttings; booklets on the opening of Killingbeck Sanatorium.

Hospital for Women

Founded 1853 for women and children the Hospital for Women moved to the Coventry Place site in 1860 a building which was originally a private house. It included a small maternity unity for a short period.  Children’s’ treatment later moved to the Leeds General Infirmary.  Records include Management committee minutes 1897-1939; House committee minutes 1948-1974; patient records 1957-1984 including admissions and discharge registers, theatre registers and registers of cases; plans 1893.

Maternity Hospital

The maternity hospital first opened in 1905 in Caledonian Road. The hospital on the Hyde Terrace site opened in 1908 and gradually extended after the purchase of neighbouring buildings.  It was vacated in 1983 and the building was demolished in 2001. Records include registers of baptisms 1926-1943; house committee minutes 1948-1974 and birth registers 1950-1981.

Ida and Robert Arthington Hospital

Built 1888 as pre-convalescent unit for Leeds General Infirmary and the Hospital for Women next to the Hospital for the Convalescent Poor (Cookridge Hospital). Records include sub-committee minutes 1948-1974.

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And this is just scratching the surface. There are many more hospitals in Leeds that we hold records for; and if you’re interested in healthcare across West Yorkshire, there are even more hospital collections held at our Wakefield office.  For more details please get in touch, at archives@wyjs.org.uk