No doubt Cashes Green Hospital was a well loved local hospital in its latter days but the history surrounding it isn’t always as romantic as some would like us to believe.
The then public health authorities for the Stroud area – Stroud Rural District Council, Stroud Urban District Council and Nailsworth District Council were very late in the provision of fever hospitals. This was not helped by the policy of Stroud Hospital – as a fee paying hospital – not to take fever patients or the overcrowded pauper infirmary at the Workhouse having very limited facilities for isolation cases.
In 1896 there was a serious outbreak of smallpox in Gloucester which resulted in more than 700 cases. As a result steps were taken by the newly established Stroud Joint Hospital to provide a Smallpox Hospital at Stancombe near Bisley. The board’s original plans to use an old Parish Pest House at Oakridge were wrecked by a bit of riot and arson by a crowd of over 300 local people when the building was destroyed by fire. The trial report in the Times stated that the justification for their actions was because “Constitutional methods had failed and what followed was the consequence of oppression”.
The Trial of the offenders took place at Cheltenham rather than at Gloucester as a result of the outbreak. Whilst there had been pleas for mercy from the both the Jury and a large body of local bigwigs the Judge – who was presumably a ‘hanging and flogging Judge rewarded the protesters before the Court with stiff sentences sending the 5 arsonists to jail for a year and the 4 rioters to prison for a month. In all cases with hard labour.
The Judge did not spare the local authorities from critism for the outbreak by the “unjustifiable conduct of the local authorities in not enforcing the law with regard to vaccination. In consequence of their neglect he believed the danger had become widespread,”.
The Stancombe or Bisley Smallpox Hospital continued to exist well into the 1930’s with the Clerk of the Board commenting in 1930 “our Smallpox Hospital is a very small and more or less temporary affair” but continued to funded by the ratepayers of Stroud, Nailsworth and also the Whitminster or Wheatenhurst Rural District Council.
Cashes Green Hospital
By 1937 the hospital had 56 beds admitted cases with:TuberculosisScarlet FeverDiptheriaTyphoidMeaslesEncephalitis LethargicaPoliomyelitisWhooping Cough
The clerk’s out letter book for the 1930’s charts the development of Local Government pensions and as a result we know that the establishment of the Hospital was a Matron, 2 sisters, 2 nurses a ward maid and a porter.There were also 3 probationers. From time to time when demand for the hospital was low the Board held posts vacant and actively ensured that additional staff could be called on in an emergency. When a new porter was recruited in 1937 his wife was also interviewed to ensure that should would be a satisfactory temporary worker in times of need. In line with the not so progressive pay policies of our then “City Fathers” the highest paid member of staff was the Porter!
The porter also doubled as the Ambulance Driver. The Ambulance appears to have been a Morris Commercial – registration number DF8825 supplied by Wycliffe Garage and was used to carry patients to the Hospital. It was also used to fetch bedding, clothing etc for disinfection. When people were charged for the ambulance the cost was 1 shilling (5p) per mile.In common with all hospitals at the time patients were charged for their stay in the hospital with the Poor Law Board being charged for pauper patients. The daily cost was 10/6 (52.5p) This meant that in bad times the charging income covered the cost of the Hospital but in good times the ratepayers were being charged for a hospital no one was using.
§ Mr. Perkins
asked the Minister of Health whether he is satisfied that the Cashes Green isolation hospital is adequately staffed to meet any emergency?
§ Miss Horsbrugh
No. Sir. I understand that the hospital has no reserve of nursing and domestic staff to meet any additional calls on its accommodation. My right hon. Friend is in communication with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service, with a view to giving such help as is possible