The Board of Guardians which was responsible for the House of Industry, also provided a medical and nursing service for those who could not pay. The Guardian’s medical services also included the provision of dispensaries. The first of these, in Castlehold, Newport, was opened in 1823; a surgeon (doctor) attended between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.; by 1832, about the same time as ten areas were designated, the Guardians ordained three dispensaries in each of the east and west Medines; accommodation was to be provided, and one supposes maintained, by the Guardians, and medicines by the doctors; each dispensary was to be visited daily; parish overseers were authorised to send a pauper with messages, and to bring back medicines prescribed.
The dispensary in Ryde was started in 1842 and was ultimately housed at the junction of West Street and Swanmore Road close to the Hospital which in 1952 finally took it over. The headquarters of the Ryde Red Cross later occupied the site of the former dispensary.
Isle of Wight Observer 19 March 1853
Ryde Dispensary – The Collector for this excellent charity has been soliciting subscriptions during the last month from those residents and visitors who have not previously contributed towards this institution. We have much pleasure in being able to state that many of the tradesmen of this town have added their names to the list of subscribers, with the promise of continuing their support towards the charity, which, in every respect, we feel assured merits far more extensive patronage.
Isle of Wight Observer 6 February 1869
Ryde Dispensary – During the last year 233 of the sick and suffering poor of Ryde and its neighbourhood have been relieved, and attended at their own homes when required. Subscriptions and donations in aid of this most excellent charity will be thankfully received by Mr. John Wavell, Pharmaceutical Chemist, top of Union-street, Ryde.
Isle of Wight Times 27 July 1933
Sir,- As this is the time of year when the charitable institutions of the Island make appeals for funds and as the Ryde Dispensary, though supported by the public does not share in any funds raised, except in those of the Hospital Sunday Fund, the splendid work done by this institution is apt to be overlooked. May I have a little of your space in order to bring the Dispensary to the notice of the public?
This Institution is for the benefit of those who cannot afford to pay doctors’ bills and yet who wish to be as self-supporting as possible: that is to say, it is a Provident Dispensary and its Members make a small contribution towards the expenses, so that they are not receiving charity. This is so appreciated and the spirit of independence is so great in Ryde that the numbers of members is increasing rapidly: in fact, we have almost reached the point when we shall require another medical officer on our staff. The present number of doctors on the staff is, and always has been, two.
I would like to take this opportunity of publicly thanking the Committee of the Dispensary for their loyal support, without which we could not carry on. I also wish to thank the subscribers for assisting us for so many years, and the clergy for the share of the Hospital Sunday Fund sent to us. In fact, everyone interested in the Dispensary assists so willingly and kindly that there is a possibility of assistance being taken for granted unless there is a little more publicity.
May I also thank the doctors in Ryde who are not on our staff but who have attended to our Members from time to time when necessity has arisen. Thanking you in anticipation of your publishing this letter…. Constance Christie. Ryde Dispensary.
RSHG Archive Roy Brinton Collection & E. F. Laidlaw