Ryde Social Heritage Group research the social history of the citizens of Ryde, Isle of Wight. Documenting their lives, businesses and burial transcriptions.
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Her Majesty Opening the New Children’s Wing at the Infirmary

In 1897, it was decided to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s reign by erecting a new children’s ward at the Isle of Wight Infirmary, Ryde.

Arrangements were made for Her Majesty to open the building on 8 February 1899, but due to the unfortunate death of Prince Alfred of Saxe-Coburg it was rendered necessary for the ceremony to be postponed.

The Children’s Wing

On 28 July 1899, the route chosen by Her Majesty was down Queen’s Road, along John Street, and up the High Street.  The decorations commenced with an archway of Venetian poles, artificial flowers and flags, which were placed opposite Pellhurst Road.  Two grand stands were erected in the neighbourhood.  Venetian poles with festoons of flowers lined the route and another archway at the top of John Street, with the decorations being more lavish along the High Street.  Her Majesty was dressed in black, and wore a hat trimmed with white, as she usually did in summer.

A small electric case attached to silver wires was handed to the Queen.  Her Majesty pressed this, an electric current was completed and worked an electrical apparatus attached to the doors of the new wing, and thus, without leaving her carriage, Her Majesty was able to open the doors.  The apparatus was afterwards presented to the Queen as a souvenir of the opening.

Details of the Building
It was stated as being a very handsome elevation, and a credit to Messrs. Young & Hall, 17 Southampton Buildings, Bloomsbury who were the architects, and the Mr. Charles Langdon the builder.

The new building, which ran due east and west, was built of Binstead rubble stone with Bath stone dressings and the roof covered with Bangor slates. It was connected with the building by a covered way, from which there was an entrance to the main corridor of the Hospital.  The old fever block had been converted into an isolation hospital and had been refitted.  The new ward contained handsome attendants’ rooms, and a very complete fitted bath room.  The ward was 40 feet long, 24 feet wide and 12 feet high.  This room amply accommodated the ten beds which were placed there.  The floor was laid with teak, and was warmed in winter by a double-faced Teale stove, with flues under the floor.

In summer, convalescent children were able to play on the verandah, access which was obtained through windows with sliding sashes.  On the north side of the ward was a tower, with necessary lavatory accommodation, the drains and everything connected with it being in accordance with the latest scientific ideas.  At the eastern end of the ward was a semi-circular sunroom glazed with plate glass, also with a floor of teak.

By the liberality of Mr. Peters, a new entrance to the Hospital had been made, which enabled carriages to enter the grounds by one gate and go out by the other.

The cots and furniture were was supplied by Mr. J. A. Purnell, the cots each being endowed in memoriam of various eminent local people.

Contract price for the new ward was £3,300, with £5,000 received in endowments for the cots.

Sources: IW Observer January 1899 and 29 July 1899
Image: Roy Brinton Collection

Article: Ann Barrett