Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Website - Online treasure chest reveals history of Nottingham's hospitals

A fascinating new website covering the history of Nottingham’s hospitals is now in operation. Honorary archivist Paul Swift describes how the project was developed...

THE website of the history of Nottingham's hospitals is the culmination of a project that began in the mid-1990s.

Beginning originally as a research project looking into the history of Nottingham City Hospital, it has expanded to include the history of a number of Nottingham's hospitals, former and current.

Although it is early days, with alterations and additions still to be made, the purpose of the website is to have an online archive, and one that connects to other websites as well.

For example, those with a Facebook account can connect to the Nottingham Hospitals History Facebook site and there is also a connection to the Flickr website to view photographs and illustrations not on the main website.

And just to whet your appetite, there are a number of photographs, originally taken in 1969, of the site where the Queen's Medical Centre is, before building work began in 1971.

Another site extensively used in the development of this website was that of YouTube.

On the homepage, if you click on "media" you will be taken to six YouTube videos. These comprise a collection of photographs of Nottingham's hospitals made into videos. One is of a radio programme originally broadcast in March 1982 on BBC Radio Nottingham and telling the story of the history of Nottingham General Hospital.

Another purpose of this historical website, by adapting original text, is to make references to the changes that were taking place in the life of Nottingham's hospitals after the opening of the University Hospital, which became Queen's Medical Centre in 1977.

Those who were members of staff of both the Children's Hospital at Forest House and the General Hospital all viewed the transfer of services to the QMC with great scepticism.

Originally conceived in 1964, the QMC has been part of Nottingham's healthcare services for 35 years and a seat of learning for just over 40 years, with the opening of the University of Nottingham's Medical School in 1970.

Right from its planning stage to the years following its opening, the people of Nottingham had a love-hate relationship with the Queen's Medical Centre, because of its size. In other words, it was the done thing not to like it!

It is important to remind ourselves that the QMC, together with the Medical School, has put Nottingham in the forefront of worldwide medical research.

Just imagine, if those who were against the whole project when it was begun had won their argument, and the building of a medical school and teaching hospital had gone to another UK city...

Nottingham as a centre for healthcare research would have become a backwater.

In all probability, had Nottingham been passed over as a centre for medical research, the University of Nottingham would not be the prestigious place we know of today.

Apart from the histories of the City Hospital and the former Mapperley Hospital, which includes a photograph and biography of its eminent psychiatrist, Dr Duncan Macmillan, the website includes a page dedicated to all of Nottingham's past and present eminent physicians and surgeons. These include John Storer, the first physician to the Nottingham General Hospital when it opened in 1782; Robert George Hogarth, the surgeon who introduced radiotherapy to Nottingham's hospitals; and consultant gynaecologist Mr John Cochrane.

From its humble beginnings in the mid-1990s, the archive is now so extensive that it has become a two-man job.

Visit or e-mail questions to


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