© COLIN BAKER 2007
Hollymoor Hospital was built as an annexe to Rubery Lunatic Asylum by Birmingham Corporation and opened 6th May 1905, by Alderman C.G. Beale.
The 100 acre site was purchased in 1897 at a cost of £10,000, it was chosen because of its location, in the farm lands of Rubery as it was believed that fresh country air “aided the patient’s recovery”.
Initially it was built to accommodate 600 patients (300 female and 300 male), with a 400 seat chapel, and housing for members of staff. It also had a farm with pigs, and a bakery large enough to supply both the new hospital and Rubery Hill Asylum. The total capital cost of building Hollymoor was £274,084, which included the cost of a railway line linked to Rubery Station, to enable material to be brought direct to the site.
Due to the rising population and the demand for accommodation for people suffering from mental illness, in 1914, the council proposed to purchase a further 121 acres adjoining Hollymoor with the intention of building a 700 bed acute hospital at an estimated cost of £130,000, these plans did not proceed due to the outbreak of the First World War.
In 1915, Birmingham Corporation was to provide suitable accommodation for up to 3,000 wounded soldiers, and as a result both Rubery Hill and Hollymoor Asylums were converted at a cost of approximately £25,000 to hospitals suitable for the treatment of wounded soldiers.
Rubery Hill became the 1st Birmingham War Hospital, with Hollymoor being part of 2nd Birmingham War Hospital. Hollymoor was originally intended to accommodate 640 patients but as the need for more beds increased, all available space was used including the use of tents in the grounds and was able to accommodate up to 940 men. It received its first casualties on 8th July 1915, and on occasions up to 800 wounded could be received in one week. In the later stages of the war Hollymoor was converted into a specialist orthopaedic hospital. It closed as a military surgical hospital on 1st March 1920 having treated 21,280 casualties. It was then converted to a Ministry of Pensions War Hospital, dealing with the care and rehabilitation of ex-soldiers.
It was handed back to the city in 1922, and reopened as a mental hospital.
As a result of the Second World War, the hospital was again converted to a military hospital with first patients arriving on 12th May 1940 and over 10,000 cases were treated. In April 1942 it became a military psychiatric hospital and became known as Northfield Military Hospital. In 1944 it had up to 700 patients, again with tents erected in the grounds to provide extra space.
It reopened as a mental hospital with beds for 590 patients in October 1949, and continued to treat patients until it closed in July 1994, and most of the buildings demolished.
Adapted from “ History of Hollymoor Hospital by Fay Crofts” Published by Brewin Books Ltd.