Terrific old images of York County Hospital unearthed in historic archive

Student nurses gathered around a sister tutor explaining the anatomy of the human head, at the Preliminary Training School at York County Hospital, Monkgate, York
26 Apr 2018 @ 12.01 am
| History

These amazing images of York have been uncovered in a forgotten archive.

They show nurses at York County Hospital on Monkgate.

They are among a collection of more than 4,000 photographs recently discovered in the Historic England Archive documenting healthcare in Britain between 1938 and 1943.

Nurses relaxing at York County Hospital

Capturing hospital staff, patients, procedures and practices, the images provide an invaluable and extraordinary insight into medical and nursing practices during the Second World War, and immediately before the foundation of the National Health Service.

A year-long project to conserve, catalogue and digitise the entire collection is about half way through. The collection is being made accessible to a wide audience for the first time and can be viewed and searched on the Historic England website.

The photographs were taken by the Topical Press Agency, but how and when they were acquired by the archive remains a mystery.

They record improvised wartime hospital wards, blood donation and transfusion, infection control, treatment of burns and early plastic surgery, alongside nurses in training and relaxing in their time off.

York County Hospital

York County Hospital was founded in 1740 and in 1745 moved to a larger building, which was later demolished and replaced in 1851.

Subscriptions, charity funds, and donations were the main sources of the hospital’s income during the 19th century, but a number of voluntary bodies raised additional funds in the early 20th century.

The York County and District Hospital Contributory Scheme, which began in 1932, provided a large part of the hospital’s income.

Subsequently, a gynaecology ward was opened in the early 1930s, and a new outpatients’ department, women’s surgical ward, and entrance for night casualties was opened in 1934 by Princess Mary, the hospital’s patron.

In 1940 the nurses’ home was extended. The hospital celebrated its 200th anniversary in April 1940 but, due to the Second World War, the occasion could not be “adequately honoured”.