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The Church Accomodates a Hospital

The Hale congregation didn't enjoy their enlarged premises for long.

Extract from the Hale Congregational Church Deacon's Minutes.
9th October 1914

"It was reported that at an informal meeting of a number of Deacons held on 9th August permission was given to the Red Cross Society to use our school chapel and men's club room for Nursing Lectures; also to use the School Chapel as a war hospital should occasion arise."

War had been declared on 3rd August 1914, and immediately the Red Cross and St Johns Ambulance societies combined their activities under the aegis of the Red Cross.

Requisitioning of the Hale church and St Peter's rooms opposite so soon after the declaration of war indicates that there were no illusions about the situation. There was never any official idea that "it would be all over by Christmas."

The subsequent hospital is listed in the Red Cross records as:
"Congregational Schools Red Cross Hospital, Cecil Road, Hale."
but was more generally known as the "Hale Red Cross Hospital".

The plaque in the rear porch states it was opened in November 1914.
In fact, the church magazine in November 1914 reported the presence already of forty patients at that time.

Since there is no separate listing for the use of the nearby Anglican owned St Peter's Rooms as a hospital (it opened in mid December, one month after our church's hospital opened), we assume that the two hospitals were administered as one.
This is clear from the accompanying photographs which cover both sites. The 1914 photos must have been after mid-December since they include St Peters. The 1915 photos seem to be some sort of official opening, probably in the Spring in view of the outside accomodation.



The "Congregational Schools Red Cross Hospital" was just the beginning.

 

 



The Plaque in the rear porch of the church, originally the main entrance to the school.

THE
GREAT WAR

THIS
SCHOOL
WAS USED AS A
RED CROSS
HOSPITAL
FROM NOV 1914
UNTIL MARCH 1919

The Red Cross records also show that in the Altrincham area there were thirteen other hospitals.

The hospitals were staffed by volunteers, mainly devoted to convalescance. If anyone thought that the conditions in the trenches were not understood by the general population then they would be wrong. The number of nurses shown in our photographs are just for one hospital, local ladies, who would hear at first hand what their patients had gone through.

The Stamford Military Hospital at Dunham Estate was not open until 1917. It may be because because the estate had been held in trust for the tenth Lord Stamford. His Mother, Lady Penelope had planned a hospital for officers, it may have been Lord Stamford who ensured that it was for other ranks. When he became of age in 1917 the handing over of Dunham Hall as a hospital followed immediately. (He also restricted tenants rents, declaring "farming is a way of life, not a business".)
Post Cards sent to and from the hospital
The church manages with the hospital.
Extract from the Hale Congregational Church Deacon's Minutes.
10th November 1914

"A letter was received from Mrs O'Neill conveying the thanks of the Red Cross Society for the loan of our premises for the Hospital.

A letter was read from Mr J L Tattersall promising to pay the extra cost to the church in Lighting and Heating caused by the premises being occupied by the Red Cross Society. A letter of thanks accepting the offer to be sent to Mr Tattersall."

The church had also approached their insurers with regard to the extra premium that would be required for the use as a hospital. The insurers had, howver, declined to increase the premium.
There was also a problem concerning making tea - for the kitchen now lay within the hospital area; -

"The following matter arising out the use of a portion of our premises used by the Red Cross Hospital were dealt with: With regard to the use of the kitchen Mr Yates reported that (Mrs) O'Neill suggested that teas should be prepared for us when required by the hospital staff and that only (indecipherable ) should have access to the kitchen. Mr Yates undertook to consult the Ladies' Committee."

In fact the Ladies Committee were not satisfied that the Hospital was sticking to the agreement and within two months they insisted that a deputation of three (possibly angry) ladies approach the hospital. We don't know the direct outcome, but in March 1915 the Ladies Committee were advocating an architect's recommended improvements to the kitchen.

The hospital eventually occupied the whole of the school extension and chapel areas. The congregation had to be accommodated, including the Sunday School children, about 130 of them, in the main church and the vestries.

 







 

The church magazine was used to keep the membership informed:

Our Church Premises.

"The Red Cross Hospital on our premises has been extended by the conversion of our old Lecture Room (till recently used as a recreation room for the patients) into a second ward. This will provide for the accommodation of twelve more patients, making a total of forty in our block of buildings. For a recreation room the Junior Schoolroom has been taken over. A limited use of the downstairs rooms is arranged for Sunday afternoons for the Sunday School and Men's- Bible Class. But, except for this and the use of the actual Church itself, we have to be content, for the time being, with the upstairs premises and the Church vestries, for all our own meetings and services. We should like again to urge a loyal co-operation, on the part of all, with the authorities of the Church in the time of strain and inconvenience that is involved. If our dominant note be one of thankfulness that we are able to offer our premises for so bene?cent a purpose, we shall accept cheerfully the inevitable limitations of the situation. _Special attention is called to the fact that the allocation of rooms is in the hands of our Church Secretary, Mr. Fasham, and those desiring to arrange meetings of any kind should give him as long notice as possible, so that, with the limited accommodation at our command, there may be no overlapping."

Our Military List.

"The following is the list of those of our number who are engaged in active military service in connection with the war, or are preparing for it: ]ames Gordon Boyd, Willi'am Vernon Boydell, Charles Eaton, Merlin Eaton, Edgar Yates Harrison, Roy Dilworth Harrison, Alan Selborne Holt, Frank Norman Hoult, Allen Douglas Hughes, George Kendall, Samuel Ledward, Cyril Norbury, Brian Norbury, Malcolm Norbury, Esmond O'Hanlon, Eric Shaw, Jack B. Tattersall, Colin \Velch, Leonard \Velch, Trevor Mountford \Vheeler, and the following from Pepper Street Chapel, Mobberley: Albert E. Bailey, Bertram Bayley, Fred Bayley, Lionel A. V. Bayley, Charles Goodier, Horace Wm. ]ones, George Henry Jones, John Thos. Ward, Albert Ward.

In order to keep in close touch with these friends who have gone from our church and from the Pepper Street Chapel, it has been decided to establish a regular system of despatch of literature to them. Every Wednesday evening, at 7 o'clock, helpers will meet at our schools to arrange a weekly despatch. Friends who can help by gifts of books and magazines will oblige 'by sending them to the church caretaker. Those willing to contribute money for postage will oblige by sending their contributions to Mrs. Herbert Harrison, Gleadale, Langham Road, Bowdon. Offers of help for the work on Wednesday evenings will also be acceptable, and should be notified to Mrs. Harrison. The system will form a useful link of union between ourselves and our friends who are absent from us. If suf?cient response is made to this appeal, it is proposed to extend the system beyond the limits named, and to include others ol those serving in the forces whose names reach us, and who may be glad of this slight token of belpfulness and friendship. "

The Military List continued to be updated every month.


In Chester Cathedral is a banner commemorating the work of the St John Ambulance and Red Cross during WW1 in Cheshire. Hale is mentioned as "Cecil Road".


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