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On this day …

25 Sep

“All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs”
                                                                              Enoch Powell on Joseph Chamberlain
Well here’s a blast from the past: Enoch Powell opening the then Western General Hospital on this day fifty three years ago. What can I say that hasn’t been said about this divisive maverick politician regarded as both a prophet (by those of an anti-EU persuasion) and a racist bigot (by those on the left)? I suppose if, like him, you had set your heart on becoming Viceroy of India no less and the Government of the day then grants  India independence then you’ve got little left to  hope  for in life other than to become a somewhat eccentric outsider. He was living proof that great intellectual ability, he had a double first in classics and was a professor of ancient Greek at the ripe old age of 25, is no guarantee of being a sensible human being. The quote at the top of this post applied to him with spades.
If you are still here and  wondering where on earth the Western General Hospital is then wonder no more; they changed its name to the grander sounding  Hull Royal Infirmary sometime short time after this stone was laid. That, I guess, is the nature of human affairs.
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Boiler House

23 Sep
This strange looking place is the boiler house of  Hull Royal Infirmary which, as you might expect, needs lots of hot water for heating and cleaning. Nowadays it’s powered by gas but when first built, in the early 60’s, it ran on coal stored in that massive hopper on the right.
The weekend in black and white is here.

John Alderson MD

16 Aug

Outside Hull Royal Infirmary on its ashlar pedestal stands this statue of John Alderson MD. And why would such a thing be here I ask myself and after a few minutes on the good ship Google I find that the said Mr Alderson was a very successful physician in Hull in the late 18th and early 19th century indeed he did so well out of his practice that when he was elected Chief Physician at the newly opened Hull Royal Infirmary he gave his services for free. He vaccinated many of poor people of Hull. But that alone wouldn’t get a statue. Oh no there’s more, much more. He was consultant physician for the Hull Lying-in Charity which provided linen and food for poor reputable married women during pregnancy.  In 1814 he set up a refuge for the insane where it was said “every attempt consistent with humanity will be made to restore the patient”. And then he worked towards the provision of education, was president of the subscription library and the Literary and Philosophical Society. Feeling at a lose end he set up the Hull Mechanics’ Institute in 1825. During all this he gave many lectures and wrote several publications. Finally he started the Hull School of Medicine in Kingston Square but died before that was completed. I suppose there’s a limit to what one man can do in a lifetime. It is said the fifteen thousand people lined the streets of Hull for his funeral in 1829 … 
This statue was paid for by public subscription and stood originally outside the Hull Royal Infirmary on Prospect Street before being moved to the Anlaby Road site. Until the smoking ban was enforced more rigorously on the hospital site tobacco fiends (many were patients in pyjamas and dressing gowns with accompanying drip stands, oh it was such a fine sight to see!) would gather around this statue and offer their smoky votive offerings to this remarkable man. At least I’d like to think they did, but most probably they (like me) hadn’t the slightest idea who he was.

Sufficient unto the day

29 Mar

With the demolition the other week of Highcourt this building, Hull Royal Infirmary, became Hull’s tallest building. At 57m (187 ft 3/32 inches , thanks Mr Google) and with 14 floors it does not exactly scrape the sky (tickle it maybe?) but it’s quite big enough I think. Here it is in its new blue facade after a recent face lift and while it may look neat and tidy outside the workings of this place are at times beyond the ken of mere mortals. It manages to keep going with infusions of cash every now and then to tide it over till the next crisis but this is no way to run a modern health service. (I shall stop here there’s an election coming on and no doubt promises will be heaped upon promises and we all shall see the broad, sunlit uplands …)