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Abram Peel Hospital - Leeds Road Hospital
Leeds Road hospital was run by Bradford Corporation’s Health Committee, during WWI it was taken over by the military authorities and renamed the Abram Peel War Hospital treating shell shocked patients.
Leeds Road Hospital was also known as Bradford Fever Hospital, its pavilion system had separate wards for the treatment of different diseases e.g. diphtheria, scarlet and enteric fever (typhoid). Bradford Corporation brought out the 180 bed fever hospital from the Bradford Royal Infirmary for £10,000 in 1887.
Bradford Corporation’s Health Committee was first approached by the War Office for 40 beds in October 1914 for the treatment of enteric (typhoid) cases. The committee offered them to the army at the rate of 7/- per bed per day with the proviso that in the event of the beds being required for local needs they would be made available as soon as practicable. There were not taken up on this offer probably because of the cost and the first patients arriving in Bradford were sent to Bradford Royal Infirmary and the Bradford Royal Eye and Ear Hospital.
The War Office contacted Bradford Corporation’s Health Committee again over two years later in February 1917 asking for the accommodation of 500 beds. Preparations to equip the Leeds Road hospital as military hospital costing £1,000 were initiated with existing infectious patients transferred to the three local joint hospitals. Staffing was becoming an issue in the hospital by the end of April 1917 with 7 out of the 10 medical men employed by the Health and Education Committees serving in the forces. Lord Derby had sent letters to the medical men asking them to sign up to work in hospitals in France. However, Bradford Corporation decided unanimously that it was in the public interest that the services of the two remaining medical men that were under military age should be retained and made claims for their exemption at the local tribunal.
The hospital was formerly handed over on 2nd July 1917. By the 18th of that month the War Office also took over the eye, ear, nose and throat block. Alternative accommodation was found for those patients by leasing two dwellinghouses on Howard Street and on Little Horton Road.
The corporation also pressed for the completion as early as possible of a new sanatorium at Grassington in order to provide accommodation for the treatment of discharged sailors and soldiers suffering from tuberculosis.
In February 1918 the War Office declared that the Abram Peel War Hospital was one of 8 institutions nationally for soldiers suffering nervous shock and neurasthenia. Under the command of Captain Clements it had space for 437 beds. By November of that year the number of institutions for the treatment of shell shock had increased to 15 nationally including the Abram Peel Hospital which was now reported as being part of the Bradford War Hospital.
After the War
Soon after the war had ended the War Office contacted the Health Committee to cease occupation, as early as practicable, of the Abram Peel War Hospital to enable it to resume its use as an infectious diseases hospital. However it was not until April 1919 that arrangements had been made to hand it back. The Health committee agreed to take over the surplus stores materials and provisions at agreed valuations and the hospital was to be painted.
Bradford Corporation Health Committee minutes, West Yorkshire Archive Service
Bradford Daily Telegraph archive, Bradford Local Studies Library
Hansard 20 February 1918 & 04 November 1918
British Medical Journal
Bradford Charity and the Public Purse, Gary Firth (2001)