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The English Patient


The English Patient


Reflections of yesterday.... by Mark Sheppard and Joyce Raven


It soon became apparent that with the tremendous amount of injuries sustained on the battlefields during the First World War that a large amount of Red Cross Hospitals would be required for the soldiers to recuperate. From the outset of the war, large commodious buildings were requisitioned, such as ‘Oakeden’ opened 17th December 1914, and Wharmton Towers, and Ashway Gap all at Greenfield, which also became the Saddleworth Red Cross Hospital in January 1916.


Dukinfield, Denton, Mossley, and also Ryecroft Hall, Audenshaw (donated by Austin Hopkinson), had one each, with the latter being one of the leading hospitals. Oldham had three, as did Ashton under Lyne. The one in Stalybridge was ‘Early Bank’, then situated next to Bower Fold. A Victorian gothic mansion built in 1857 for James Kirk, a cotton manufacturer, and later lived in by Harry Gartside, a brewery director of Gartsides Brookside


Brewery, Ashton under Lyne, whose grand-father John Gartside had founded the Matley Spring Brewery in 1837, at the bottom of what is now, Woodend Lane (1936) Stalybridge, originally Brewery Lane, and off Blundering Lane.


Early Bank and Hough Hill


Soon after his death, in March 1909, Early Bank was acquired by Dr.Philip Talbot and his wife. In October 1914, Early Bank was being prepared for a hospital, and on the 2nd November, the house was opened for inspection, and became a Red Cross Military Hospital. The first arrival of wounded soldiers from the trenches arrived here on the 6th November, 1914. At Christmas that


year all sorts of presents were delivered to the hospital such as foul, hares, rabbits, brandy and fresh eggs. Visitors were allowed access every Saturday between 2.00- 4.30pm. However, it soon became apparent that the hospital was not big enough to cope with the influx of wounded soldiers. A torpedo had sunk the Lusitania ship in May 1915, with some people throughout the district, suffering a personal loss for one reason or another.


‘Early Bank’ was not sufficient, having treated over 100 soldiers, and an empty residence the ‘Old Hall ‘at nearby Mottram in Longdendale, its last tenant being Mr. Roscoe, would be offered for use as a hospital. The staff and patients would all be transferred to the ‘Old Hall’. On the 1st June 1915, saw the arrival of 22 wounded soldiers at Mottram Old Hall, only a few days landed from France. With the exception of one, all were severe surgical cases, under the watchful eye of Dr. Awburn. Hundreds and hundreds of patients passed through the hospital, and throughout those in the district, such as the two at Glossop, being Patrington and Moorfield. As before, local people offered food parcels, beds, gifts, and help, to maintain the hospital.


With the end of the War in November 1918, the guns fell silent, and Mottram Old Hall finally closed as a hospital on Wednesday 30th April 1919, the last 15 patients would be evacuated, and that final evening, tea’s supper, games, and presentation’s took place. Miss Elsie Dean of Stalybridge, who had also been a nurse at Early Bank, and was one of the staff, would be congratulated by Queen Alexander and the Duchess of Westminster likewise.


Red Cross Hospital, Old Hall, Mottram around SADDLEWORTH 18 www.aroundsaddleworth.co.uk


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