©  COLIN BAKER   2007                                                                                       

Although infirmaries, attached to workhouses had existed since the 1760’s, The General Hospital was the first dedicated hospital built in Birmingham.

Planning for a general hospital began in 1765, when Dr John Ash, called upon the people of Birmingham to raise funds to enable the building of such a hospital. A site in Summer Lane was brought and building commenced, money ran out and the building stood un-finished from 1769 to 1776, when further funds were raised, enabling the building to be completed and opened in 1779. During the first nine months 529 patients admitted of which 303 were cured, 93 relieved, 112 remained as patients, with five dying and one dismissed as incurable. The hospital was further extended in 1790, when two new wings were added.

Funding the hospital was by private subscription, and through the many events held to raise money, between 1802 and 1829 a total of £40,257 was raised by these events, these events ranged from musical evenings to garden fetes and banquets.

As Birmingham grew, the hospital extended and by 1842 it had 222 beds, with a further two wings built with funds raised at events at Aston Hall.

By the 1890’s the hospital had out grown the existing buildings, and a decision to build a new hospital on land that had become available due to slum-clearance, at the corner of Steelhouse Lane and Loveday Street. A competition was held for the design of a new general hospital in 1892, which was won by William Hensman. It was built in the same style as the recently completed Victoria Law Courts built opposite. The hospital was opened by Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Christian on 7th July 1897.

The hospital continued to expand with extensions continually being added, and the older parts demolished, until the building became un-suitable for its purpose, a decision made in 1992 recommended the closure of the General and to use the building to re-site  the Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Work started in May 1996, and with a £30m combination of refurbishment and new-build, some of the old General Hospital building was saved.

Nurses Home c1900

Children’s Ward c1900

Surgical Ward c1900

Operating Theatre c1900

Waiting Hall c1900

Medal stuck to celebrate Bicentenary of the opening 1779-1979