Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 23°C

min temp: 17°C

Five-day forecast

First World War centenary: The Redbridge hospitals which played their part in the war effort

Staff and patients from the Woodford and Wanstead Auxiliary Hospital, which was formerly Highams Manor [Picture: Woodford Historical Society] Staff and patients from the Woodford and Wanstead Auxiliary Hospital, which was formerly Highams Manor [Picture: Woodford Historical Society]

Sunday, April 6, 2014
9:00 AM

The enduring image of the First World War is of the soldiers who lost their lives in the trenches and No Man’s Land.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

Two patients at the Woodford and Wanstead Auxiliary Hospital, formerly Highams Manor [Picture: Woodford Historical Society]Two patients at the Woodford and Wanstead Auxiliary Hospital, formerly Highams Manor [Picture: Woodford Historical Society]

But for many others, their harrowing experiences continued beyond the Western Front, as soldiers with horrific injuries or suffering from war neurosis, known as “shellshock”, filled hospitals.

The demand for hospital beds across the country led to the takeover of many large homes to act as emergency rooms – including two in Woodford.

Ian Dowling, an information and heritage librarian at Redbridge Central Library, Clements Road, Ilford, said: “The government realised there wasn’t going to be enough capacity in existing hospitals, so they brought in auxiliary hospitals.”

The grand Georgian mansion Highams Manor opened as the Woodford and Wanstead Auxiliary Hospital in 1914, having been built in 1768 for the MP Anthony Bacon.

A picture of Woodford County High School in the 1920s [Picture: Redbridge Information and Heritage Service]A picture of Woodford County High School in the 1920s [Picture: Redbridge Information and Heritage Service]

These types of hospitals still experienced great demand. Highams opened with 50 beds, but by December 1915 it had treated 304 patients and in 1917 it had 75 beds.

John Lovell, chairman of the Woodford Historical Society, said: “Some [soldiers] had their limbs blown off so there were a lot of quite serious injuries. Highams was a beautiful setting for them.”

Hanover House VAD Hospital was a military hospital which treated patients with diseases such as typhoid. It opened in February 1915. Mr Dowling said: “By 1917 it had 17 beds, so it was quite small. It also had a recreation room for the patients. All but one of the 120 patients recovered.”

Hanover House remained in use until the war ended in 1918 and its patients were later transferred to a hospital in Buckhurst Hill. The building was demolished and the houses of Chiltern Way now stand on the site it once occupied.

The Ilford Emergency Hospital opened in Eastern Avenue, Newbury Park, in 1909 as a small cottage hospital, and was later used for soldiers during the First World War.

After the conflict, the site continued to operate and was extended over many years. It was unveiled as the King George Hospital in 1930.

Mr Dowling said: “The old military hospital was actually attached to the back of it.”

The building was demolished and King George was moved to Goodmayes.

After Highams Manor closed in 1919, it became the Woodford County High School for Girls.

The school, in High Road, was bought by the council in the 1920s. A number of the rooms the school uses today were used by patients and medical staff when it was the military hospital. The entrance hall became the reception, the operating theatre is now the staff room and the ballroom is a classroom.

----------------------------------------

Did a member of your family serve in the First World War? Do you have stories or memories from the period that you would like to share? Have you uncovered little-known facts or researched a particular subject to do with the war? We would love to hear from our readers to shape our coverage of the centenary year. Get in touch through Twitter or Facebook, email reporter Beth Wyatt at bethany.wyatt@archant.co.uk, call 020 8477 3988 or write to Beth Wyatt, Ilford Recorder, 539 High Road, Ilford, IG1 1UD, to take part

Share this article

0 comments

   Local advertisers

More news articles

Click here to read the Digital Edition of the Ilford Recorder on screen
Use our Wedding site to help you plan your big day!
At WeddingSite we know how much you have to organise for your wedding day, that's why we have designed a set of FREE, simple-to-use tools to make the planning process easy & hassle-free. FIND OUT MORE
Find a date using our online dating and friend finder
You can meet new friends, find romance or simply meet up online with people sharing similar interests and hobbies. FIND OUT MORE
Find a local business using our online directory search
Need a plumber? Or a florist? Or anything else? Search our business directory to find Ilford businesses in just a few seconds. FIND OUT MORE
Family notices from the Ilford Recorder, with readers' tributes
In memoriam, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, best wishes & special days. FIND OUT MORE

Around the Web See all