Heating the Hospital

A few weeks ago I mentioned the method used for heating water in the theatres in the late nineteenth century, by heating kettles on open fires. The same method was used on the wards to heat water for hot baths.  A Hot Water Committee was set up to investigate this matter and also the heating system.

Wards and rooms were inadequately heated by open fireplaces, and corridors and staircases were virtually unheated.  Coal fires involved much work and were dirty and as the Hospital could only store 6 tons of coal it had to delivered two or three times a week.  The Committee were in favour of a central heating system which would burn coke to the value of £80 pa in place of the present consumption of coal at over £300 pa.

In June 1902 the Quarterly Court agreed the installation of central heating and hot water system. Several weeks later six of the medical staff wrote to the Governors expressing the opinion that to heat wards with hot water pipes and radiators would be ‘prejudicial to the health and convalescence of the patients and to the health of the nursing staff’.  The Committee considered the letter, but as the contract had been signed at a meeting of the Quarterly Court, at which four of the six who wrote the letter had been present, they assured them that their fears were groundless.

AHPH 1_2_39 Albert Ward 1907

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