Bowling Park Auxiliary Hospital

Bowling Park Colony was operated by the Bradford Board of Guardians and was home to their imbecile cases, it was used as an auxiliary military hospital prior to the establishment of St Luke’s as Bradford’s War Hospital.


Bowling Park Colony was opened by the Bradford Board of Guardians in 1914 as an institution for the feeble minded. It was built to reduce the cost of referring cases to the County Asylum which was expensive; the Guardians were able to look after the majority of cases at Bowling Park only referring the more serious ones.



Soon after the outbreak of the war the Bowling Park Estate was offered to the military authorities and in the spring of 1915 a sub committee was formed to deal with the prospect of the hospital being taken over by military authorities.


The committee arranged for the existing inmates to be transferred to the Daisy Hill Institution on the 3rd April and the institution was prepared, furnished and staffed for the reception of 80 soldiers.  The staffing and administration of the hospital was provided by the Bradford Board of Guardians. Bowling Park Colony was handed over to the military authorities on 16th April 1915. The following day 39 patients from the 2nd Northern War Hospital at Leeds were admitted including 16 stretcher cases according to press reports they found everything comfortable.


The Bradford Citizens Army League asked the Board of Guardians whether they could utilise a portion of the Bowling Park Colony estate for a camp for the 2nd Bradford ‘pals’ battalion. The Battalion arrived on 12th May 1915 and stayed for 8 days before moving on to Ripon.


At the start of June 1915 the Bradford Board of Guardians discussed with the Lord Mayor and the Local Government Board the provision of a base hospital for wounded soldiers in Bradford and obtained their approval for the utilisation of Bowling Park Colony for the purpose. Since then (8th June) all the cases arriving at Bowling Park Colony came from the East Leeds War Hospital.


By the end of June 1915 the hospital had admitted 134 cases, 45 wounded and 89 sick. The Expeditionary Force has furnished 78, the home force 48 and the local troops in Bradford 8. There have been 67 discharges and one death. The patient who died was one of the Bradford Pals Battalion who was admitted from the Bowling Camp suffering from pneumonia.


However discussions regarding a base hospital for Bradford soon changed as the demand for beds increased, and at the beginning of July the Board of Guardians proposed to set aside a portion of St Luke’s Hospital for the purpose. This would provide substantially more than the 80 beds available at Bowling Park with 544 beds and separate accommodation for the nurses. The Board of Guardians requested that if they handed over St Luke’s for use as a base hospital that use of Bowling Park Auxiliary Hospital would be relinquished by the authorities.


When it was decided to extend the Bradford War Hospital to take over the whole of the Horton Lane premises 450 of the inmates from the Union House and hospital were transferred to Bowling Park Colony. It was estimated that 6 charge nurses and 26 probationers would be required. The two existing houses accommodating 100 beds formed the administrative buildings and temporary buildings were erected as quickly as possible for the patients at a cost of £15,000, the Lord Mayor agreed to try to raise this sum by public subscription. The architect was instructed to lay out the buildings to the best advantage for the present purposes, without regard to the future of the colony.


When the Bradford War Hospital extensions were officially opened by Princess Marie Louise in October 1916 she also paid a visit to the Bowling Park Colony.


After the war

Although the Bradford War hospital was vacated in July 1919 it was not until October 1919 that arrangements were put in place for the 77 male sick patients to be transferred from Bowling Park Colony back to St Luke’s. This left the building free for the aged and infirm men that had been accommodated at Allerton School to be transferred to Bowling Park Colony on the 1st November and allow the Education department to have the use of the school once more.



Bradford Board of Guardians Finance and General Purpose Committee, West Yorkshire Archive Service 

Bradford Daily Telegraph

Bradford Poor Law Agenda’s, Bradford Local Studies Library

St Luke’s Hospital Committee minutes, West Yorkshire Archive Service



Bradford Workshouse History