Throughout the whole of the Victorian era medical appointments to the Voluntary Hospitals were of an honorary nature. Whilst most doctors of this period were financially self-supporting, the necessity to earn money was obvious. In this respect they supplied their skills and surgery to the local businessmen and families in their homes. This type of work attracted many medical men and the provision of private hospitals in the late Victorian period also provided them with extra earnings.

The Queen Victoria Nursing Institute began as one of these hospitals. Initially a property was rented in Clifton Terrace, Chapel Ash, to provide an in-house facility, in 1887.  In addition a small team of nurses were recruited to provide their services to the local gentry, but it was soon obvious that this facility was too small. It was under the tutelage of Alderman T. Vincent Jackson, the first medical man to become Mayor of Wolverhampton. Monies were sought and raised and a request made to Queen Victoria to found a private hospital in her name to celebrate the Jubilee year of 1887, thus providing a permanent memorial of her reign.

The letter that was received by the council giving the Queen's consent for the use of her name for the new hospital.

Transcript of the letter

With reference to your application of the 12th ultimo for permission to make use of Her Majesty’s name in connection with a Nursing Institution which the Town Council of Wolverhampton propose to erect in commemoration of Her Majesty’s Jubilee, I am directed by the Secretary of State to acquaint you that he has laid the same before the Queen, and that Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to accede to the request of the Town Council, and to sanction the proposed Institution being called ‘The Queen Victoria Nursing Institution’.

Her consent was given and the institution opened its doors in 1895 at the Bath Road site, aided by additional money from the Town Council. Some 20 plus beds and an operating theatre and facilities were provided. Additionally it was decided that a labour suite would also be available for private births. 

The hospital was an instant success and within 18 years the unit doubled in size, partially thanks to the sum of £20,000, which was raised by local business. The extensions, which included an enlarged kitchen with refrigerators and meal lift, were installed. 

The new building in Bath Road.

Maid’s and surgeon’s rooms were provided plus a small garden at the rear with stores for coal, wood and vegetables. The total nursing staff was now 50, which included a domiciliary force to care for the poor and sick in their homes, a forerunner scheme for District Nursing.
Income was generated by private income from patients plus charitable donations and bequests.  Such was its status that it became recognised by the Central Midwifery Board for the training of midwifery staff. 
The selection of Matron for such an establishment was always an august procedure and both maid and living accommodation were provided for her in addition to her salary of £70 per annum in 1907. 
The Board of Governors, all with honorary titles, were drawn from the prominent businessmen and clergy from Wolverhampton. It was noted that several of these gave services to the town hospitals.

During the First World War there is evidence that wounded officers from the Staffordshire Regiments were treated there. Between the war years the hospital continued to flourish, with its 43 beds on 3 floors being occupied by an average of 1300 patients in the course of one year. The number of operations performed ran at a similar pace.

New X-ray and maternity facilities were provided and the operating theatre re-furbished. Particularly evident amongst the patients throughout these years, and into the 50s and 60s, were the number of Wolves footballers receiving cartilage operations.

With the advent of the NHS in 1948 the hospital came under the auspices of the Royal Hospital but continued to raise private money from its patients. Attending doctors still received the accepted remuneration fees for their services. With the hospital being built-in by the expanding Banks’ Brewery and with the advent of the ring road, money was raised in the business and charitable sectors for the provision of a new Nuffield Hospital sited in Wood Road, Tettenhall, in the grounds of the home of a former member of the Mander family. In 1978 this scheme was completed and the hospital opened its doors to the demise of the Queen Victoria Nursing Institute.

Another view of the hospital.

The plaque in the brewery wall.

The Bath Road site continued to be used for the provision of Dermatology clinics until it was purchased by Banks’ Brewery in the mid 1980s. 

Thus ended a 100 year history of private medical provision for the citizens of Wolverhampton. The only remnant of its presence is the original foundation stone which can be found in the wall of Banks’ Brewery in Bath Road.


Roy Stallard. T.D.

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