Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Postcard Of The Week : St Luke's Hospital, Halifax

This is a postcard I have just added to my collection and it shows St Luke's Hospital, Halifax. Whilst the name might not be familiar to Halifax residents, the building will be, for it still stands today and is now incorporated into the new Calderdale Royal Hospital. Nevertheless, it stated life in 1897 as The Halifax Union St. Like's Hospital. The "Union" concerned was the "Poor Law Union" and the hospital was built to accomodate the bed-ridden cases from the local workhouses. The foundation stone reads as follows:

Halifax Union
St. Luke's Hospital 

This foundation stone of St. Luke's Hospital, being an Infirmary for the sick poor in Halifax Poor Law Union, comprising the townships and parishes of Barkisland, Brighouse, Clifton, Elland and Fixby, Greetland, Halifax, Hartshead, Hipperholme, Luddenden Foot, Midgley, Norland, Northowram, Norwood Green and Coley, Queensbury, Rastrick, Rishworth, Shelf, Skircoat, Southowram, Sowerby, Sowerby Bridge, Soyland, Stainland with old Lindley, Upper Greetland and Warley, was laid on the 9th day of October 1897, by the Rev. C. E. Aspinall, M.A., J.Ponly, Chairman of the Halifax Board of Guardians

During the Great War the hospital became a military hospital (St Luke's Military Hospital) which treated soldiers sent back from the trenches in Flanders and other theatres of war. With the final abolition of the old Poor Laws in the 1920s the hospital was eventually transferred to the local Council and after the formation of the National Health Service in 1948 it became Halifax General Hospital. It was as Halifax General Hospital that I best remember it and even in the 1960s it did not look very different from the building pictured on the above postcard. Everything changed in 2004 when the large, new Calderdale Royal Hospital was built alongside the old building which now forms an administrative wing to the new hospital. However, if you stood in the right place and managed to avoid the endless stream of traffic, you could probably still recognise the distinctive shape of the old buildings.

I have two connections to the hospital. The first is that it is one of the two major hospital at which the GLW still works. The second is that my brother created the sculpture that stands in the grounds. The piece is called "The Dancing Girls" and portrays two of my nieces. It was to be the first of a series of three pieces which were commissioned for the opening of the new hospital in 2004. The other two never got cast for reasons which I will save for another post.

SQUARE SUNSHINE : Described as "the thoughts and observations of a grandfather", the blog provides an ever-changing collection of images, thoughts and memories.
WEBSITE & FAMILY RESEMBLANCES : From the NfN Archives - more about my sculpting brother.


  1. Anonymous11:01 AM

    Fantastic history of such a grand looking building. And would like to see the sculpture you mention. 'Tis interesting you've a direct history with such a place. Cheers, Alan!

  2. It's a lovely card, and from the sculpture - do you recognise your nieces?

  3. What a fabulous building. Looking forward to the story of the uncast statues...

  4. Buildings do always look more serious in sepia!...I'm looking forward to seeing the sculpture and hearing the back story.
    I like the township names, (old) English is so colorful. Here in US they used many American Indian names for the same. -J

  5. Alan

    Another interesting and informative post.

    I often wonder how many people actually look up when they walk down the high street. The varied architecture above the bland shop fronts, can be stunning can't it?

    Thank you for pointing visitors to Square Sunshine. I really appreciate it.

  6. Looks rather like the old Palace Hotel in Southport, which was demolished in the 60s.

  7. Wow- that's really cool that your brother's sculpture is there- what an honor!

  8. yes, yes a post with a pic of your brother's sculpture. what an incredible family connection to such a significant place.

    look forward to story of the uncast pieces - may they find a life some day

  9. Where's the picture of the sculpture?

    I wanna see the sculpture!

  10. It's great how you weave the personal history into the general story of the building.

  11. What a fabulous postcard, but as Jeffscape asked, what about the sculpture? It would be neat to see.

  12. very cool...but you left me wanting to see the sculpture!

  13. Thanks everyone. I will post a picture of the sculpture but it will have to wait until I take one! Checking through my files I realise that I don't have a picture of the CRI Sculpture. I will take one and post it in the near future and at the same time tell you the famous tale of the other two uncast pieces.

  14. I had my daughter in St. Lukes Hospital...in Kansas City, Missouri, that is!

  15. That's interesting - I spent Christmas Day circa 1975 washing up on one of the wards in the round bit. Hubby in those days was a junior doctor there.

  16. My, you do have conncections to that hospital. Your family is interwoven in its hallows. I look forward to reading about why the other sculptures never got cast.

  17. Wonderful post...Perhaps there is a picture of that hospital and sculpture online??

    I too want the backstory...

    Best to you.

  18. Your Brother! Yes The Dancing Girls is a Fine Work Of Art.....& (yes) I remember some of the story behind the 2nd Work........But I look forward to the Full Story!

  19. Anonymous12:03 PM

    Wilst searching for a snap of the sculpture, I came across this

  20. Wonderful, historic post, Alan! I didn't know that your brother was/is a sculptor. I'd like to see a closeup of the work of art.

    I have given you an award at "Keepsakes". It is in the post below the Theme Thursday one.


  21. Well, dear Alan, can you please take a photo of that scupture then? I'm sure we'd all love to see it!! how very intriguing indeed. I lov eto learn about the history of such place and again you did a good job providing such. I'm so glad you keep us educated here as you do.

    Ok, jsut read you r comment and can't believe you haven't actually taken a photo yet! we will be waiting then!

  22. Anonymous3:43 PM

    i am interested in the history of the hospital after reading a few books on the poor law and workhouses,also i happen to work there now as an auxilliary nurse. i see the foundation stone you mention everyday and remember it as a little girl when its a&e was near it before the new one was built. i was born on one of the round wards you can see from the outside and my gran (20years later) died on the same ward! and today i had opportunity to have a good look round the old section which prompted me to google it and find this blog.

    it hasnt changed hardley from the outside and if you look carefully you can see plenty of old stone stairs and box sash windows with old wobbly glass in them. there still remains one big round ward in use as the rehab ward now and the bit with the clock tower above is our staff changing block now complete with original staircases and grand bannisters. its amazing to think of the thousands of hands dating back to 1897 touching the things i touch and feet walking on stone i walk on all the time. thanks for showing the old postcard, from Roz allen.

  23. Anonymous3:44 PM

    ps i can photo the sculpture tommorow if you like and link it on here in the next few days, Roz allen (again) x

  24. I trained as a Student Nurse at the Halifax Hospitals in the 60s
    The General was a wonderful place to work. The happiest days of my life were spent there, and in Halifax.
    I wonder if anyone knows what happened to the Last Matron Miss Tyrah.
    She was very well respected feared and loved by the students.


Black Friar

For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...