- Food Shortages
- War Relief
Clayton Auxiliary Hospital - North Bierley Union Hospital
North Bierley Union took poor law cases from all districts surrounding Bradford, those in central Bradford attended Bradford Union. It was located at Clayton, next to Horton Bank Reservoir. It had a separate infirmary which was renamed Clayton Auxiliary Hospital when it was utilised to treat wounded soldiers in April 1917.
When the First World War broke out the Guardians at the North Bierley Union Hospital offered to provide any accommodation in the infirmary which could be spared for the treatment of wounded servicemen.
Although the hospital was not needed immediately for this purpose they did provide instruction in nursing recognising the need for additional nurses. The first to benefit in September 1914 were certain ladies in Clayton under the auspices of the St John’s Ambulance Association they were given lectures by the medical officer and allowed to visit the wards of the infirmary. These classes were repeated in 1915 and 1916.
In January 1916 arrangements started being made for the military to take over the whole of the Bradford Union Institution and North Bierley was asked to accommodate 40 of their sick male patients. By the beginning of March 1916 the hospital was treating 204 patients including 39 Bradford cases. The Local Government Board established a standard flat rate of maintenance to be paid by the Bradford Guardians of 15/- per week in respect of each of their cases maintained and dealt with at the Bierley Union.
The threat from air raids caused Clayton Urban District Council to contact the hospital in March 1916 asking whether it could be used to treat any potential air raid sufferers and ait was agreed that all possible assistance would be rendered if required.
In February 1917 the hospital was inspected by the Local Government Board who were investigating whether it would be practicable to offer suitable accommodation to wounded soldiers. It was considered that the only way to accommodate soldiers would be a separate block building and the female infirmary presented itself as the most desirable location. The existing female patients were to be moved into other part of the institutions which were reconfigured for the purpose. The Guardians kept control of the administration of the hospital. The offer was accepted by the military in March 1917, patients were moved in April. By October 1917 the total number of military beds available was 114.
The Local Government Board asked the North Bierley Guardians if they could provide additional accommodation for wounded soldiers in April 1918 and they replied they were not in position to do so. However at the end of April they received an urgent request to accommodate 18 wounded soldiers and arrangements were hastily made to use a dormitory on the top floor of the male block. The Guardians reconsidered their position and in May offered to accommodate soldiers in Army tents next to the Horton Bank Reservoir on the understanding that the necessary tents and equipment will be provided by the Army Council. This offer of three hospital tents accommodating 30-40 patients was accepted in June and the nearby causal wards that had been closed for some time were to be used for dining, bathing and lavatory as well as an office for the nurses. The tents were erected in July 1918 by this time the hospital was dealing with more serious cases and additional probationary nurses were required.
A recreation hut was to be provided by YMCA Bradford however the government permit required to purchase timber for the hut took a long time to come though and was eventually received at the end of Oct 1918. Only less than 2 weeks later the Clerk reports that having regard for the altered war conditions it was not necessary to take further action regarding the hut.
The hospital tents were only intended to be utilised in the summer months as their location was not ideal for the treatment of patients through the winter and they were empty by 13th November 1918.
After the War
Throughout the course of the war the hospital also treated approx 200 civilian poor patients (including those from Bradford) which was at equivalent levels to those prior to the war. The hospital was released from Army use on the 31st march 1919 and by October 15th 1919 all civilian patients were back into their normal wards.
It was suggested that an appropriate tablet should be placed on the wall of the infirmary in commemoration of the service to which the building had been put as a hospital for wounded soldiers.
North Bierley Union Workhouse Infirmary Minutes, Keighley Library
St Luke’s Hospital Committee minutes, West Yorkshire Archive Service