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What: Tuberculosis sanatorium/geriatric hospital.
Where: Milford, Surrey
Architect: Sydney Tattle
Abandoned: 1997 (partial)
Last Known Condition: Demolished, 2014. The administration block remains in use as part of a geriatric hospital.
Page Updated: March 2016
In 1911, the National Insurance (Treatment of Tuberculosis) Act established a need for Local Authorities to provide treatment for Tuberculosis, an often fatal infectious disease which at the time accounted for some 65,000 deaths every year and had a dismal 1 in 5 recovery rate.
Responding to the Act, the County of Surrey established a Sanatorium Sub-Committee and purchased 110 acres of land at Tuesley near Godalming at a cost of £8,234. The outbreak of War in July 1914, however, saw all available resources and manpower diverted into the war effort and the project had to be postponed.
The problem of TB, of course didn't go away and by 1920 posed an even greater risk to a depleted and war-weakened population; the Sanatorium Sub-Committee reconvened and revived their plans for a purpose-built treatment facility, appointing Sydney Tattle to design a new hospital for the Tuesley Site. The building contract was awarded to Chapman, Lowry & Puttick Ltd and the foundation stone was laid in May 1927 by Henry Cubitt, 2nd Baron Ashcombe, then Lord Lieutenant of Surrey.
The Surrey County Sanatorium was officially opened on 20th July 1928 by the Rt Hon. Neville Chamberlain, Minister of Health, accompanied by E.J. Holland, Chairman of the County Council and Arthur Spurge, Chairman of the Public Health Committee. The entire hospital had cost £155,000 to build, although many of the fixtures and furnishings were provided by public subscription or private donations. Dr R.J. Allison was appointed first Medical Superintendent and Miss F.H. Hall the first Matron: May 1929, the hospital was at full capacity and a waiting list system was put in place.
By the 1930s, Milford was achieving excellent results in treating Tuberculosis with medication, fresh air, good nourishment and progressive exercise. Wards were light and airy and the landscaped grounds were laid out with ornamental planting and specimen trees to make the patients' stay as pleasant as possible.
Another reason for the success of Milford was the programme of rehabilitation and occupational therapy given patients after treatment: horticultural and agricultural training were given on the hospital estate which included a 2½ acre orchard, piggeries and market gardens providing food for the hospital kitchens.
In 1938, a small operating theatre was added; at this time pulmonary surgery was in its infancy, but by 1940, important advances had been made in thoracic surgery, which, assisted by radiology, helped reduce infection and repair lung damage.
The hospital was one of the first to have bedside radio receivers and in the late 1940s two patients, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson established a hospital radio station 'in a laundry cupboard in F Ward' writing short comedy scripts which they then performed on air. The duo would later become famous for programmes such as Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe and Son.
After the war indicence of TB declined significantly with improvements in public health: Universal BCG immunisation was introduced in 1953 and by the 1960's Rifampicin and other anti-TB drugs meant treatment could usually be carried out without resorting to invasive surgery.
In the 1960s, the hospital was renamed Milford Chest Hospital and widened its focus to include other pulmonary and thoracic conditions such as obstructive lung disease and cancer as TB became increasingly rare. In January 1980, the Hospital's Department of Thoracic Surgery was transferred to the Royal Surrey County Hospital at Guildford and
in 1985, the hospital was redesignated as a geriatric hospital: the existing buildings were refurbished and new wards replaced two of the original hospital wings to the northeast. The remaining 1920s wards, water tower, recreation facilities, kitchens and staff housing were declared surplus to requirements in 1997 and have been standing empty since.
The hospital faced repeated threats of closure throughout the 2000s, but was saved in 2010 when it was announced that it would become a centre of excellence for geriatrics and stroke rehabilitation. In 2014, work began on demolishing the derelict 1920s buildings to make way for a development of 120 new homes.
Osborne, P., 1998, 'Milford Sanatorium, Godalming, Surrey' [https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/42366842/Milford/Milford/History.html] Accessed 29/6/14
'Milford Hospital saved as Cranleigh beds are shut', Surrey Advertiser, January 15th, 2010 [http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/local-news/milford-hospital-saved-cranleigh-beds-4821300] Accessed 29/6/14