Brief History of Addenbrooke’s Hospital and its connection with the University Clinical School

Dr John Addenbrooke left in his will of 1720 about £4,500 to build and fit up a building for a hospital in Cambridge.  The hospital erected on Trumpington Street; was one of the first voluntary hospitals for the poor.  It opened on 13th October 1766 with just 20 beds in two wards.  To attend the hospital you had to present yourself at 11 o’clock on a Monday morning, with the name of your ‘sponsor’ or subscriber.

During the early to mid 1800’s the hospital benefited from several bequests with the most important being one from John Bowtell which enabled the building of two wings containing four more wards.   Also during this time the hospital was able to attract some of the leading medical men of the day including George Paget and George Murray Humphry.

Paget and Humphry were instrumental in founding medical education in Cambridge and for re-establishing the faltering University Clinical School.  Paget pioneered the first practical examinations for medical degrees in the UK and Humphry revolutionised surgical practice with his anatomical teaching methods.

Under the influence of Humphry the Governors were persuaded to under take a complete reconstruction programme and a refurbished Addenbrooke’s opened in 1866 with new Nightingale style wards, an out-patients waiting hall and an enlarged kitchen.

During the early 20th century a third floor was added and then in the 1930’s a new wing for a children’s ward and private ward were added.

So by the Second World War the hospital had reached its limits with beds and room to expand.  With the introduction of the National Health Service in 1948 and Addenbrooke’s becoming part of the United Cambridge Hospitals,  the Governors, whose membership represented both the Hospital and the University, realised that as medical instruction was now firmly established and Addenbrooke’s reputation as a university teaching hospital was growing they decided that a move to a new site was inevitable.  In the mid 1950’s the Ministry of Health purchased land at Hills Road.  In 1961 the first block ward and departments were opened.  The two sites ran together until 1984 when the last patient left the Trumpington Street site.

Sadly during the first half of the 20th cent. there was a move away from clinical medicine by the university until the 1940’s when the subject of a new hospital site was being talked about.  The development of a School of Clinical Research and Post-graduate Teaching and links with Addenbrooke’s were approved and in 1946 the new school was constituted.   The Clinical School Planning Committee held their first meeting in November 1968 and the first clinical students were admitted in 1976.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s