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Sharoe Green hospital and life as nurse in the 1960s

Posted on - 27th August, 2023 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Fulwood, Health, History, Preston News, Sharoe Green
Sharoe Green Hospital Pic: Preston Digital Archive
Sharoe Green Hospital Pic: Preston Digital Archive

Sharoe Green Hospital began life as a workhouse, in 1869, and was still used as a workhouse hospital until 1929.

Preston Borough Council owned and operated it until the NHS was formed in 1948. Large parts of the site have been demolished, however, the main building and a few ancillary buildings are still used today. Parts of the site have been covered by new housing. Sadly, the manicured gardens are long one.

Preston’s ex workhouse today Pic: Google Earth
Preston’s ex workhouse today Pic: Google Earth

Sharoe Green Hospital was originally owned and managed by Preston Borough Council. In 1948 it transferred to the Preston and Chorley Hospital Management Committee. In 1974 it was taken over by the Lancashire Area Health Authority.

The workhouse takes shape

Sharoe Green Hospital when it was a workhouse Pic: workhouses.org.uk
Sharoe Green Hospital when it was a workhouse Pic: workhouses.org.uk

A new workhouse facility for Preston was built in 1869. Workhouses prior to the new building were often prone to infectious diseases and were notorious for their poor conditions. As a result, they often had infirmaries attached.

The new workhouse could accommodate 1,500 inmates and was split, with males to the east and females to the west. An infirmary was built at the rear along with a chapel. The building eventually became the Preston Civic Hospital.

The NHS years

In 1952 a new maternity ward was opened at the site. This was slightly less Dickensian than earlier units. Curtains could be drawn round to create a cubical and the babies were kept in cots next to their mothers.

The nurse training school, 1968

In 1968 a new nurse training school was built at Sharoe Green Hospital. A book released in 2018 looked at life as a nurse in Preston. The book, by Jane Dean, is titled To Heal the Sick.

Read more: Preston student nurses subject of 50th anniversary book

28 nursing recruits formed the first cohort to be entered in the new training school. In addition to the new state-of-the-art facility, an accommodation unit had been built where students under the age of 21 had to stay. A set of rules were issued. No men were allowed into the nurse’s home and uniforms were not to be worn outside the hospital. Additionally, no jewellery or make up was to be worn. Dresses had to be below the knee and black stockings were the norm. Hair had to be captured under the hat and was not allowed to fall on the collar. The cap was often described as an upturned chip packet.

First names were never to be used; it was either sister, matron, or doctor. Working hours were long with split shifts from 8am until 2pm and 2pm until 8pm. Night shifts were 12 hours long. First year students would be involved in cleaning. This also involved cleaning flower vases, which were still allowed, as well as emptying ashtrays. Smoking was still common in 1968 and the health risks were not widely acknowledged at the time. There were also the ever-present bedpans to empty.

Sharoe Green closed as a hospital in 2004.

Follow Geoffrey for more Preston history.

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