CUMBRIA, NORTHUMBERLAND, TYNE-AND-WEAR.
The ruins of the Cistercian abbey of Furness provide a reasonably well preserved example of a monastic infirmary complex which dates from the fourteenth century. The great hall measures 126' x 47' and has recesses around its walls which accommodated the infirmary bed heads. The rere-dorter (toilet facilities) are at the west end. There was a covered passage leading to the warming house which was heated by a double fireplace on the south wall. A doorway at the south east corner leads to the infirmary chapel (excellently preserved and now a museum). To the north of the chapel is the infirmary buttery and low walled remains of the octagonal infirmary kitchen.
Dugal Campbell, Engineer in Ordinary to the Board of Ordnance designed one of the first purpose built regimental hospitals in 1745. It has the appearance of a modest sized house: in 1863, it provided 40 beds and was described as a miserable place.
In the 1930's, a large collection of Roman surgical instruments was discovered at the Roman fort on Stanegate, now the site of a museum. Although some were lost during the last war, the remaining collection includes scalpel handles of copper alloy with replaceable iron blades, handles of instruments for cataract extraction, a tongue depressor, a bladder sound and various probes.
An example of a Roman hospital or Valetudinarium can be found amongst the ruined foundations of this border fort alongside Hadrian's wall at Housesteads. The visitor needs a good imagination as only the ground plan is visible. English Heritage who own and administer the site have provided an artist's impression of how the entire buiding might have looked in Roman times.It is thought to have had an operating theatre at one end though the only surgical instrument on show in the site's museum is a small hook which was discovered in the barracks nearby. A tomb stone to the fort's medical officer was one of the artefacts excavated in 1974 but it has been removed to Newcastle-upon-Tyne where it can be seen in the Museum of Antiquities of the University and Society of Antiquities. More impressive than the hospital are the remains of the fort's latrines, a superb example of practical Roman sanitory engineering which can still put many modern loos to shame.
Blencathra Hospital. Early TB sanatorium of 1904. The buildings were subsequently used as an adventure centre but were little altered. There are spectacular views from its position high on a hillside.
Banks House was formerly the family home of Thomas Addison (1793-1860) though Addison was born at Long Benton, a suburb of Newcastle, before moving to London where he became physician to Guy's Hospital. In 1849 he described pernicious anaemia and the disease characterised by failure of the adrenal glands, both of which are named after him. Addison is buried in the Priory Church at Lanercost.
The Robinson Library in the University of Newcastle contains several collections of early medical books, the most important being those of Thomas Masterman Winterbottom (1766-1859) and Frederick Charles Pybus (1883-1975).
Winterbottom was an inveterate collector of books and many of his non-medical books are now in the university library at Durham. The earliest work in the medical collection is the Opus de Peste by Jacobus Soldus, published in 1478. Winterbottom's collection was partially destroyed by a conflagration in 1921and some of the remaining books show the marks of fire and water. The collection of over 3,000 volumes had its origin in the libraries of the Newcastle Infirmary, founded in 1751, and of the College of Medicine, founded in 1834, which Professor F.C. Pybus transferred to the Library of Armstrong College in 1926. To them have been added books from the University Library which are of importance in the history of medicine. The collection covers all branches of the subject and is rich in works of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The very rare works are kept in the Strong Room. Two articles by J.S. Emmerson relate to the Medical Collection: "On the Gallery", University of Durham Medical Gazette, vol. 47, March 1953, pp. 24-27, and "Thomas Masterman Winterbottom, M.D., 1766-1859", Ibid., vol. 48, December 1955, pp. 23-27.
The library of books, engravings, prints, portraits, busts and bleeding bowls, illustrating the history of medicine and collected by Emeritus Professor F.C. Pybus, D.C.L., F.R.C.S. over forty years, was given by him to the Library on 15th September, 1965. It comprises 2,000 volumes, 2,000 engravings, 50 portraits and busts, 9 bleeding bowls and about 160 holograph letters, as well as one mediaeval manuscript, John Arderne's Opera Chirurgica dating from about 1380. The printed edition of De Medicina by Celsus is especially fine with its hand coloured initial letters and a section in manuscript. There are several editions of William Harvey's De Motu Cordis and a copy of his De Generatione Animalium (1651) containing the signature of his brother, Elias Harvey and some notes in the authors own handwriting.
The original infirmary building was demolished in the 1950's, though a few fragments remain. The present infirmary dates from the first decade of the 20thC.
The Newcastle Guild of Barber Surgeons was founded in 1442 and survived until 1929 by which time it had been reduced to three ordinary members and two stewards. All that remains of this once illustrious foundation are two minute books, an early manual of anatomy and a collection of instruments dating from the 17th century which are in the Discovery Museum (formerly the Museum of Science and Engineering). The museum has a few other items of medical interest including a 19th century operating table and an 1950's iron lung.
The original surgeon's hall mentioned by Celia Fiennes in her diary was demolished in 1850 to make way for the North Shields and Berwick railway The Barber Surgeons Hall in Victoria Street, which is now St Paul's Church of England School, dates from the mid nineteenth century and was designed by John Dobson. It had a dissecting room, library, lecture theatre, pathology museum and laboratory. The arms of the Barber Surgeon's and Aesculapian serpents decorate the exterior.
One of the earliest fever hospitals known as the Newcastle House of Recovery in Bath Lane (NE4 5SQ), built in 1804, has survived though it is now used as a museums administration office..
At the end of the 16thC,
a plague stone, possibly fashioned from an old cross base, was placed
close to Eamont Bridge near the entry to the town and used for transfer of
coins between town and country people. The stone is
in grounds of
Greengarth old people's home.
The first cholera epidemic of 1831 started in Sunderland and the Museum and Art Gallery has a display.