Stroud Hospitals League of Friends – History
Stroud General Hospital originates from a dispensary founded in 1750, followed by an infirmary in George Street, moving to a General Hospital in Bedford Street in 1835, with the current Victorian Hospital opening in 1875. Long before the formation of the NHS and League of Friends in 1948, there had been a tradition of community support, with health services being maintained by gifts from mill owners and other Stroud residents.
Since those early days, the League of Friends has gone from strength to strength, from initially providing little ‘extras’, as funds increased, to supporting major building projects such as the much needed modern operating theatre in 1973. The League has grown further and since 2000 alone we have provided more than £3.5 million for buildings, equipment and services, alongside successfully campaigning against closure of the hospitals.
We are grateful to Dr Roy Lamb who gave a presentation about the history of Stroud Hospital and its League of Friends. He outlined how the hospital started with a Dispensary in 1747 by a Mr Mills who offered a room in his cottage. It was then situated at the Lamb Inn for five years. In 1756 it moved to Rowcroft and people had to queue outside. In 1783 local mill owners donated a guinea a year to promote the service. In 1833 a small facility was built in Bedford Street, and the first Stroud Hospital (currently Parkers Estate Agents) was the original building created in 1856. In 1872 a Mrs Franklin donated £1000 to start a new hospital, and in 1874 Mr Cowle donated land in the current site in Trinity Road. Finally in 1875 the hospital was opened. 1948 saw the start of the NHS at Stroud Hospital, with two resident doctors and visiting consultants. The League of Friends was formally constituted in 1948 and initially provided entertainment for patients and parties for the medical staff and their children. In the 1960’s Dr Lamb worked at Standish and Gloucester Hospitals and was asked to help Dr Newton in Stroud. An appeal was launched to build a new theatre and £30,000 was raised in 15 months. There is a ½ penny stone incorporated in the wall of the operating theatre. Later The Timpson family approached the doctors and offered £10,000 to refurbish the casualty department. In 1979 the Jubilee Ward was opened by the Duke of Gloucester. In 1981 the League of Friends financed the ultrasound service and it is thought that it was the first GP maternity unit to have ultrasound in the county. In 1986 the Princess Anne Ward was built.