The 125th anniversary of the foundation stone being laid for the Royal Lancaster Infirmary will be celebrated with an open day between 10am and 4pm on Saturday September 8, hosted by Lancaster Medical Museum in Medical Unit 1.
The event, which ties into University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust’s (UHMBT) NHS 70 celebrations, will give people the opportunity to look around the old operating theatres and two of the Nightingale wards.
Also on offer will be treasures from the museum collection, displays of old photographs dating back to 1897 and information about Lancaster Health Fair which will take place in September.
Guided tours will run every half an hour from 10.15am to 3.15pm.
Mr Bryan Rhodes, Orthopaedic Consultant, UHMBT, and Chairman for Lancaster Medical Museum, said: “This is a great opportunity to showcase an important listed building at the heart of the RLI and reveal some of the museum’s important collection, including surgical and pill making equipment, old stethoscopes and a number of large plaques showing who made donations to pay for the hospital beds.”
The RLI site is steeped in history. In 1887, Queen Victoria’s jubilee offered the opportunity for the committee running the old Thurnham Street hospital to build a new hospital for the people of Lancaster. A plot of land on Ashton Road was purchased in 1888 for £2,471 and a further £600 was needed to move Thomas Ripley’s lodge southwards. A design by the famous Lancaster architect E.G. Paley was chosen and the firm of Paley, Austin and Paley were appointed site managers for the construction.
The building work was completed in early 1896 to a cost of about £22,500 and it was decided to hold the opening ceremony in the spring and at the same time hold a Bazaar to raise funds for the costs of furnishing the building and equipment. The Duke and Duchess of York formally opened the building at a major ceremony on March 24 1896 and announced that Queen Victoria had honoured the building with its new title: the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.
Other developments over the years have included a new maternity unit which opened in 1979, a pathology building in 1994 and the new centenary building with A&E, wards, operating theatres and radiology department opening its doors in 1996.
Dr Shahedal Bari, Consultant Respiratory Physician and Deputy Medical Director, UHMBT, said: “I would encourage the local public to come along and find out more about one of the oldest buildings on the RLI site and the fantastic service that the Lancaster Medical Museum offer – it will be a must see.”
Lancaster Medical Museum was started in 1990 and in 2016 won a Heritage Lottery Trust grant to look at ways of preserving and exhibiting its collection. The museum’s collection includes over 3,000 items collected from the Lancaster area, most of it being medical and surgical with some nursing items.
If you are interested in becoming a member of the group or volunteering on the day please contact Mr Rhodes on Bryan.Rhodes@mbht.nhs.uk