©  COLIN BAKER   2007                                                                                       








National plans had been drawn up for supplying and equipping a number of emergency hospitals should war break out as early as 1909. Within days of war being declared in August 1914, the 1st Southern General Hospital was opened as a 520 bed located in buildings at Birmingham University, based on those plans made 5 years earlier. The first 120 casualties arrived on 1st. September 1914, and by the spring other university buildings were taken over and capacity increased to 1000 patients, it was again increased in size by the summer of 1916 by a further 570 beds. At its peak it could cope with 130 officers and 2357 other ranks

Birmingham University                                                  

It soon became obvious that a further 3000 beds would be required in the Birmingham area, and  The Birmingham City Asylum at Rubery Hill and it’s annexe at Hollymoor, became 1st & 2nd Birmingham War Hospitals with over 2000 beds, the 1334 mental inmates being transferred to other asylums. Between them they treated over 36,800 casualties.

Rubery Hospital                                          

By late 1914, to keep up with the demand for beds, large houses and suitable public buildings became used as auxiliary hospitals; these were operated by the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) and staffed by Red Cross and St John’s Ambulance personnel.

Around Kings Heath, Colmore Road School was in use as a 225 bed annexe. Receiving its first casualties in October 1915

Highbury Hall                                              

Highbury Hall owned by Joseph Chamberlain and Moor Green Hall the home of Arthur Chamberlain were opened and received their first causalities in May 1915. By this time there were 8827 beds in the city. Highbury became a 140 bed neurosurgical unit with Moor Green House reserved for the use of officers.

Richard Cadburys house Uffculme, next door to Highbury was in use for the rehabilitation for 150 limbless soldiers by December 1916, and remained in use, as such, long after the war had ended. 

Plaque at Uffculme recording details of use during war


A small unit for 18 casualties was also set up at Monyhull Colony on Monyhull Hall Road, Kings Norton by this time.

The wounded arrived in Birmingham by train and were then also moved around the city by rail, all the wounded for the area would have arrived at Kings Heath railway station, and then moved by ambulance to the final locations.

By spring 1919 over 130,000 casualties had been treated in the hospitals of Birmingham, these were mainly soldiers from the Western Front, but also included Sailors, Belgian and Serbian troops and Prisoners of war.


West Midland Transport Stadium

Wheelers Lane


Details taken and adapted from The Long, Long Trail by Chris Baker


And research by myself and others on    Birmingham History WebRing Forum

Birmingham City Transport War Memorial,

West Midland Transport Stadium, Wheelers Lane, Kings Heath