The former Cottage Hospital, at 45-47 Vicarage Road, is believed to be Watford's first hospital.
Built in 1885, the single storey building is said to be an “excellent example of a Victorian cottage hospital”. It was designed by local architect Charles Ayres, who was also the architect of the Isolation Hospital in Tolpits Lane, The Red Lion in Vicarage Road (1895) and the One Bell Public House in the High Street – though parts of that building are believed to date back to the 18th century .
The construction was financed by public subscription and cost £1,700. It was opened in 1886 by Lady Clarendon.
In 1897, to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, a new six-bed ward and operating theatre was added. Again, in 1903 two additional six-bed wards were added, plus dining rooms and staff accommodation (a total then of 27 patients).
In the Medical Officer’s report for 1889 (Dr Alfred Thomas Brett) it is stated: “The Cottage Hospital continues to do useful work. There were 73 cases, against 56 last year; 34 males, 39 females, 30 surgical, 43 medical. Nine patients at present”.
According to Kelly’s Directory for 1915/16, the hospital contained 80 beds, 6 cots and was fitted with x-ray equipment.
Although all the sandstone tablets are very badly eroded, busts of Queen Victoria and King Edward VII are still discernible in the smaller upper tablets to the right and left respectively, presumably representing the 1897 and 1903 extensions. (see photo gallery). The building was replaced as a general hospital by the Peace Memorial Hospital in 1925.
Now known as Victoria House, the locally listed building has been used for a number of medical uses, such as a Geriatric Hospital and Day Centre and offices.
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