Racecourse VA hospital

Cheltenham

Probably the best known of the Cheltenham Red Cross hospitals because of its quirky location ... in the grandstand at Cheltenham Racecourse. It was one of the town's larger VA hospitals, despite having no hot water or electric light for the first few months of its existence!

Cheltenham Racecourse (Prestbury Park) is one of the UK's finest jump racing facilities and home of the annual Cheltenham Festival but the lovely old 1898 grandstand which housed the VA hospital is long ago demolished ... the current one is built on the same site.

Gloucestershire Red Cross Hospitals 1914-1919
Cheltenham Racecourse grandstand as a VA hospital, 1915
RACECOURSE V.A. HOSPITAL
GLOS. 14, 18


final report from The Red Cross in Gloucestershire 1914-19
 

Date of opening—Ocober 28th 1914

No. of beds

Admissions since opening to March 26th 1919

Deaths


Average number of resident patients daily

Average number of days each patient was resident

 

220

3169

18

1915
102.52

56

 

 

 

 

1916
131.53

65

 

 

 

 

1917
169.94

63

 

 

 

 

1918
174.63

57

OFFICERS

Commandant: Miss Ratcliff, O.B.E.

Medical Officers: Mr C. Braine-Hartnell, Dr R. Davies, Dr E. A. Dent, Dr A. Sanderson-Clow

Lady Superintendent: Miss Peters, A.R.R.C.

Quartermaster: Miss Baker

Hon. Secretary and Treasurer: Mr R. Bagnall-Oakley

Masseuses: Miss S. Ratcliff, Miss Cossey, Mrs J. Ratcliff

NOTE BY THE COMMANDANT

This hospital opened on October 28th 1914, with 13 Belgian patients and 2 British—100 beds, which were increased in April 1917 to 150—and in 1918 to 200 with 20 emergency. During the first winter we had no hot water installation or any heating or any light, except oil lamps. In the spring electric light was put in—hot water laid on—an operating theatre made—a line room with hot airing racks—and a part of the open court was enclosed as a recreation room—also the ambulance room was converted into a chapel, in which regular services were held and many men were confirmed. In May 1917 a large hut, "Southam Ward", 36 beds, was given by the detachment and erected on the paddock.

Mr Unwin kindly gave another hut (12 beds) in 1918. We had two revolving shelters—and the many balconies and open boxes were admirably suited for open air treatment; 18 of the staff worked continuously from beginning to end, including Dr Dent, Sister Peters, Lady Superintendent, Sister Hands, night Sister, and Sister Thorp—my detachment Glos. 14 was ably assisted by members of Glos. 18 and Glos. 50.

Cheltenham Racecourse VA hospital, operating theatre
Ward at Cheltenham Racecourse VA hospital
Embroidered quilts, hunting trophies and Art Nouveau stained glass were a feature of the Racecourse wards, despite the hospital's frugal beginnings.
Gloucestershire Red Cross Hospitals 1914-1919