Huddersfield War Hospitals

When the casualties started to arrive in Huddersfield on 30 October 1914, they were initially taken to the Royal Infirmary, the newly established 30 bed hospital at Durker Roods, Meltham and to smaller nursing homes at Trinity Street, Huddersfield and Bradley Lane. Very soon, a small number of beds were created at Honley and Holmfirth and these later became larger auxiliary hospitals. In November 1914 a wealthy textile manufacturer, Charles Sykes, helped to equip Lightridge House, at Fixby, as a 12-bed hospital.

Beds at Honley were later increased to 50, beds at the Holmfirth Hospital rose to 70 and another 5 were added at Lightridge House. However, Lightridge house was closed in November 1917 following the decision to close all hospitals with less than 25 beds.

The pressure for beds continued to increase in Huddersfield and Charles Sykes joined with the Mayor of Huddersfield in a campaign to set-up a large War Hospital at Royds Hall, Paddock to accommodate 600 patients.

In 1915, the Huddersfield Borough Council set up an appeal to raise £30,000, an extremely large amount in those days, to convert some of the buildings and build new wards. At the initial meeting £12,000 was pledged and within five weeks £21,000 had been raised. The National Archives calculator suggests that £30,000 in 1914 would equate to £1,769,766 in 2017.

The additional wards were built in the grounds of Royds Hall and were constructed from asbestos and timber – one side of each ward had canvas shutters to let in the fresh air. The hospital was ready within 3 months from the start of the appeal and was handed over to the military as a fully functional hospital on 4th October 1915. The hospital was named the Huddersfield War Hospital and was opened by the Mayoress of Huddersfield. It was a testament to all the people of Huddersfield worked tirelessly to raise the necessary funds to build the hospital and provide all the equipment and accessories.

Although the number of beds in Huddersfield had been increased, the War Office still needed more accommodation across the area. Durker Roods was closed as soon as the Huddersfield War Hospital opened, but beds at Honley and Holmfirth were increased.

The Kirkburton Hospital, housed in the Drill Hall at Shelley Lane, was opened on 29th November 1915 with initially 20 beds.

In May 1916 an 18-bed auxiliary hospital was opened at Shepley and the accommodation was later increased to 30 beds. In September 1916, the first Lepton hospital was opened with just 12 beds but closed in late 1917 following the decision to close all hospitals with under 25 beds. In December 1916, the 50 bed Denby Dale and Cumberworth, Skelmanthorpe and Clayton West Joint Convalescent Hospital was opened in the Victoria Hall at Denby Dale.

In 1917 Bradley Sanatorium and the Huddersfield Drill Hall were also opened as Auxiliary Hospitals to accommodate the increasing number of casualties. A second hospital was opened in Lepton with 40 beds in July 1918.

Sources: British Red Cross, Huddersfield In The Great War by Vivien Teasdale, Huddersfield Weekly Examiner, Dr Graham Thurgood of Huddersfield University