Winsford Cottage Hospital – A Gift To North Devon

The Western Morning News: Monday, December 3, 1900

Winsford Cottage Hospital

A Lady’s Noble Gift

There is probably no finer or more bracing air in Devon than that which is to be found on the tract of country high above the sea level, which adjoins the South-Western Railway near Halwill and Holsworthy. It is in that district – close by Halwill Junction station, and commanding, to the southward, a pleasant and open view of field and woodland right away to the distant Dartmoor Hills – that a site has been found for the Winsford Cottage Hospital.

The building with its grounds occupies just one acre. Seen from the road hard by, there is something of a Continental look about the long one-storey structure with its bright white walls relieved by the green of doors and windows and so on. Green, that most restful of colours, has in fact, in various shades, entered freely into the architect’s “scheme” all through. As you enter the bright central hall, in which a fire is blazing cheerily, an inscription tells you that the hospital has been erected

to the memory of George Webb Medley of Winsford Tower, Beaworthy, by his wife, Maria Louisa Medley, 1899.

Mr Medley will be remembered as a candidate, some years ago, for the representation of Devonport and as a writer and authority on Free Trade and kindred questions. His wealth was acquired on the London Stock Exchange and at his North Devon mansion whose beautiful grounds stretch to within a few fields’ length of the hospital where he was wont to spend part of the summer months, as Mrs Medley does now.

In the entrance hall of the little hospital, and indeed throughout the whole place, there is a cosy, homelike air, which must be doubly comforting to the sick folk who are to be its inmates. Running right and left as you emerge is a long, admirably lighted corridor terminating in two wards, which form wings of the hospital. Stepping out from the middle of the corridor you find yourself on a covered veranda where patients may sit, and beyond that again are the garden and orchard grounds, now in the process of being laid out for grass and fruit trees. Here, in the open air and yet sheltered, convalescents may enjoy the practically unlimited prospect that stretches away for miles and miles in front and on either hand.

The foundation of the building has had special care; sewage and storm water are treated separately; an abundance of pure water comes from a well and pump on the premises, and the sanitary arrangements seem excellent. The wards and all the rooms are heated by ordinary fires – there is nothing more cheerful than the old fashioned blaze – but for baths and other domestic purposes a hot water system is connected with a boiler behind the kitchen range.

Returning to the central hall for a more leisurely inspection of the hospital itself, one passes to the right into the surgery and the adjoining committee and consulting room in which the nucleus of a surgical library that will probably be of value for reference to neighbouring practices, as well as the hospital staff. Passing a bedroom, bathrooms and other apartments, one finds oneself in the children’s ward. The bright white little beds with ingenious bed trays and several other mechanical arrangements for the comfort of the little occupants and the convenience of their nurses impress one as pleasantly as do the beautifully finished wooden floors and tiles in this as in all the wards. As to the wards there are three of them arranged pretty much alike internally – this for children, another near it for women, and the third at the other end of the building for men – each making up two beds; and besides there are two beds for accident cases (one of them reserved for special emergencies) making a total of eight beds for the whole hospital.

The bedsteads, ambulance chairs, movable bath and other furnishings that have to be taken from their position, are all on India rubber tyres on which they run noiselessly, and this is but one of a hundred little details where thoughtful foresight has been exercised without regard to cost. The comfortably furnished sitting room for the matron sister, and a linen closet heated for drying purposes with hot water pipes are noticed as one goes toward the little operating room. This apartment, like the corridors and veranda, is tiled. It is provided with an operating table of the latest kind, specially obtained from New York. The arrangements for hot and cold water supply and for securing that all the numerous surgical appliances shall be aseptic are complete. In the accident ward is a Gorham Accident Bed, which allows of the patient’s position being raised or lowered at any angle, and there is also a fracture bed of the usual type. A stretcher ambulance, also capable of being raised or lowered to any degree is among the other equipments.

The out-offices of the hospital are as complete as its internal arrangements. Everything seems to have been thought of – stable, coach house, and even (to avoid all risk) a separate corrugated iron house for lamps and oil.

The hospital itself, though we have spoken of it as in the style of a bungalow, is really of very substantial masonry – 0-inch brick, overlaid with two inches of cement roughcast. Stone from the adjoining quarry of Mr W.J. Harris and slate from Delabole, has been worked in, and the brass and iron work of all kinds is of the best.

CFA Voysey

Mr Voysey of London has been the architect and in the erection of the hospital the counsel and surgical experience of Mr T. Linnington Ash of Holsworthy have been of great assistance.

Dr Linnington Ash – Surgeon

The staff comprise Mr Paul Swain of Plymouth, consulting surgeon; Mr T. Linnington Ash, surgeon in charge; Mr E.O. Kingdon, Holsworthy and Mr G.V. Burd, Okehampton, assistant surgeons; Sister Emily Palmer (late of Dawlish Cottage Hospital and Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital), matron; and Miss M Bothwell, probationer.

Halwill and Surrounding Parish

The hospital is intended to benefit gratuitously the poor of the parishes of Halwill and Beaworthy, Ashbury and Northlew, Ashwater, Black Torrington and Highampton, Bradford and Cookbury, Clawton, Holsworthy and Pyworthy, the first two places having the preference, but when vacancies allow and subject to certain conditions and recommendations permission may be given for the reception of paying patients – a provision which in the case of struggling middle class people may prove to be not the least of the boons that the new institution will confer.

Finally, it may be mentioned that the hospital has already two patients and another application, and that the entire cost has been borne by Mrs Medley, except that three or four personal friends or relatives have been permitted to give books and a few other special other articles. Mrs Medley intends also to permanently endow the Institution in order that she and her late husband will always be associated.

Reproduced with kind permission of the Western Morning News