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Isolation Hospital

The Isolation Hospital, built on the Bedford Road about two miles from the church, had two wards each able to hold 12 beds. It was kept "at the ready" by a resident caretaker, if the need arose. It was also known as the small-pox hospital.

  The Rushden Echo and Argus, 16th June, 1950

Isolation Hospital buildings
Pointing to the windows of Rushden’s former isolation hospital, now converted
into two bungalows, is Mr Reginald Watts. Studying plans with him is his
brother and business partner, Mr Henry Watts.

Extract from 'Rushden-A Duchy of Lancaster Village', by David Hall & Ruth Harding

An outbreak of smallpox in 1892 prompted the Local Board to set in motion, plans for an 'Infectious Diseases Hospital'. The hospital was built well outside the town on the Bedford Road on two acres of land purchased from Mr. F. U. Sartoris.

As a short-term measure one of Mr Sanders' cottages on the Wellingboro' Road was let for nurses' accommodation and a piece of land at the rear was used for the erection of a temporary hospital. An advertisement was put in the Argus and in the Post in 1893 for a married couple, without a family, to live in and take charge of the hospital and to nurse patients. In 1893 an ambulance was purchased for £11.

By 1897 the Bedford Road smallpox hospital was somewhat neglected. The R.U.D.C. instructed the sanitary inspector to visit it and report on the repairs. He requested that two beds should always be available and he insisted that the caretakers should not use the wards as part of their house accommodation. [From the RUDC Minute Books]

Extract from Council Meeting Report September 1900

The Late Mr. Herbert Sartoris - Before the ordinary business commenced, the Chairman said he felt it his duty to refer to the loss the town had sustained by the death of Mr. Sartoris, who for several years was a valued member of the Local Board. His advice and judgement were, by the Board, always appreciated and respected. They also remembered the keen interest taken by Mr. Sartoris in the welfare and development of Rushden, which was his native home. His liberality and willingness to assist its inhabitants were equally remembered. About ten years ago Mr. Sartoris placed in trust rent free for 20 years 6 acres of land for cricket and other sports, also a gift of about 2 acres of land for an infectious diseases hospital. The working classes, too, were not forgotten. Before the Allotment Act was passed, he placed 70 acres of land at their disposal at a reasonable rent. These were in three different parts, in close proximity to men’s homes.

Extract from Council Meeting Report November 1901

Hospital - The Inspector also reported that the caretaker of the Hospital on the Bedford-road had handed to him the keys on the 31st ult., and that he had since visited and inspected the place and found it in good order. The Inspector was instructed to arrange for someone to keep the Hospital properly aired and cleaned.

Extract from Council Meeting Report December 1901

Hospital - The Inspector further reported that he had arranged with Mrs. Buckle to undertake the care of the Hospital at a remuneration of 4s per week and that she commenced her duties on the 11th inst. The committee approved of the arrangement.

  Mr. Knight expressed a hope that the hospital was in good order, especially having regard to the serious epidemic in London.

  Mr. Spencer said the epidemic in London was not much above normal.

  The Chairman understood that the hospital was well looked after, but suggested that two or three of the members of the committee should inspect it. It was not an ideal place, of course, but could be used, if required.

  The report was adopted.

09 May 1902 - Northampton Mercury

Urban Council Meeting (extract)
At a joint meeting to consider the proposal of establishing a joint isolation hospital for Rushden, Higham Ferrers, Irthlingborough, Raunds, and Finedon, it was stated that it would be advantageous for them to work jointly, as it would only cost them a 3d. or 3½d. rate, whereas working separately it would entail a 6d. rate. Roughly speaking the hospital would cost £12,000, and there would be provision for 30 beds. – to meet again in a month.

22 August 1902 - Northampton Mercury

The proposal put before the authorities of Higham Ferrers, Rushden, Raunds, and Irthlingborough for the erection of a joint infectious hospital for the district does not find favour in either place …..

Extract from Council Meeting Report 22nd August 1913

Isolation Hospital - A letter was received from the Local Government Board with reference to the prevalence of scarlet fever and diphtheria during 1912 and previous years, and enquiring whether the District Council had recently had under consideration the question of Isolation Hospital accommodation for their district either by themselves or in combination with a neighbouring local authority, and, if not, requesting the Council to take the matter into consideration at an early date and inform the Board of the result.

The Clerk was instructed to reply that a conference of the local authorities in the district was held at Higham Ferrers a few years since, summoned at the instance of the Health Committee of the County Council, when the matter was fully discussed, but the Local Authorities were unable to come to any decision in favour of providing a hospital jointly. The matter had not been seriously considered since that date, and this Council would be quite prepared to attend a further conference with a view, if possible, of agreeing upon some joint scheme. The Committee did not think that this Council could at the present time undertake the provision of an isolation hospital for their own district and were advised that the cases of scarlet fever and diphtheria were not more numerous in this district than in districts of similar character in the neighbourhood where isolation hospitals were provided.

Disinfecting Apparatus - The same letter enquired whether the Council had considered the question of providing suitable disinfecting apparatus for their district, and, if so, with what result.

The Committee thought it might be desirable if some steps were taken in this direction, and the Surveyor was instructed to submit a specification and estimate to the next meeting of the committee, and the Clerk was instructed to write to the Local Government Board to this effect.

The Rushden Argus July 15th 1921, transcribed by Susan Manton

Fire Alarm
Outbreak at Old “Fever Hospital” Rushden

On Sunday morning the Fire Brigade received a call to proceed to the old “Fever Hospital” Bedford Rod, where fire broke out. The call was received at 10.40 and the Brigade, under second officer Packwood made smart response, leaving the station with No. 1 steamer at 10.49. Upon arrival however, it was found that the tenant of the building, an employee of Mr. C.E. Knight, farmer, had secured the help of Mr. Rowe, the Urban Council’s foreman, who was on his allotment nearby, and succeeded in putting out the flames. The building, which is now used for ordinary domestic purposes, is matchboarded inside and the fire was caused by the heat from a flue pipe igniting some of the woodwork.

Extract from Council Meeting - August 1925

Smallpox Hospital

  The Medical Officer reported that the patients were discharged on July 22nd and that the nurse, after remaining in quarantine until Saturday last, had now left, and the hospital was closed.  It was resolved that the night watchman hitherto employed be retained for the present.

Extract from Council Meeting - October 1925

Smallpox Hospital

  The Medical Officer suggested to the committee that a caretaker should be appointed, at a suitable salary, to reside at the Hospital and be responsible for its maintenance and proper order.  He suggested that the caretaker should have the use of the living-room and bedroom attached to the original building and that he should not be allowed the use of the wards and nurses’ quarters.

  The committee decided to visit the Hospital and advertise for a caretaker at a suitable salary to be determined by them on their visit.


  A number of applications were received for payment of compensation in respect of clothes and bedding of patients recently taken to the Hospital, and also of relatives and contact cases.  The committee expressed themselves as perfectly willing to recommend a suitable compensation in all cases, but considered the present claims in the main excessive, and referred them to a sub-committee consisting of the Chairman, Medical Officer, and Inspector to see the claimants and endeavour to agree upon a figure.

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