Published: 06:00, 01 August 2020
By Colin Varrall
At a town council meeting held in Deal in February 1919, a circular was read from the Rector of Deal, as Chairman of the Committee of the Deal and Walmer Victoria Hospital.
The document asked for the building of a new hospital as a public war memorial, with Sandwich also being invited to assist in the project.
The mayor said that he had introduced the subject of a war memorial sometime ago, but he was now more at liberty to give more information.
He had attended a meeting of the hospital committee where it was suggested that a public meeting should be held to discuss the question of a new health facility, suggesting that a committee be formed to make suggestions in regard to a memorial.
On May 10, 1919, an article was printed following a special public meeting that considered the prospect.
During the proceedings practising doctor Dr. F. B. Hulke said, from his experience, a new hospital was necessary.
He stated that he could remember the time when there was no hospital yet there were people who argued that there was no necessity for a hospital in Deal.
Hard work had been made at the time of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in June 1897 to the Victoria Hospital, which had remained overcrowded ever since. Even at the time of his speech the hospital was full with patients.
He felt a new hospital was necessary as there were always people waiting to go in and they even had to discharge patients earlier than they would otherwise to make room for more urgent cases.
And it needed to be larger than the present facility according o him,even though another scheme had been proposed for an institute or a club for discharged or demobilised men from the Great War.
On July 12, 1919, the Deal, Walmer & Sandwich Mercury newspaper printed details of a public appeal for a War Memorial Hospital to be erected for Deal, Walmer and the district.
Funds were being requested for a general hospital that would be built in memory of those who had died for King and Country in the Great War between 1914-1918.
The decision to go ahead with building it would formally be made at public meetings.
Some of the supporting reasons included that only 12 beds were already available in the Victoria Hospital, which was then situated in Wellington Road. Those dozen beds serveda population of nearly 20,000 people. The nearest alternatives were at Dover and Canterbury. Local medical men often had difficulty in obtaining treatment for urgent cases.
The preservation of life and health in the future would be of far greater importance than ever before, and no more fitting memorial would be created to the men who had fallen in the Great War, or one which would give greater blessings to the living than with a hospital.
This would be equipped with every modern appliance, to give the most skilful treatment possible.
To build and equip the hospital with 23 beds would need £12,000.
A generous sum had already been promised with a donation of £5,000 from Mrs Mark Woode, while several smaller sums of £100 had also been promised.
Payments made by subscribers into the hospital fund would be paid into the Banks in Deal and Walmer.
A site in London Road on the corner of Bowling Green Lane had already been purchased, which had once been a football ground.
The honorary treasurers of the Deal Hospital Fund were Mr. J. Manners of the National Provincial & Union Bank in Deal, and Mr. T. S. Harvey of the London, County and Westminster & Parr’s Bank at Walmer.
Several honorary secretaries included Councillor G. D. Roe, Mr. W. Ryder-Richardson.
During September 1919, a War Memorial Week was organised in Deal and Walmer to help raise funds for the Deal Hospital Fund. It proved a success and succeeded all expectations.
Over £1,900 was added to the fund during that week alone. It brought the tally to £9,925.
A general list of the subscribers donating money to the fund were regularly printed in the newspaper stating names and the amount of money that had been donated by each individual.
By January 1920, subscriptions had raised £12,332 0s. 4d. with grants from the County Red Cross funds and money raised from the closing of St. Anselm’s Red Cross Hospital at Walmer.
With the increased cost of building works,it was decided erection should not commence until the funds amounted to £15,000.
On August 26 and 27, 1920, a bazaar and pastoral revue held in the grounds of Walmer Castle added £1,550 to funds which meant building could commence.
Finally on March 17, 1924, the Victoria Hospital, Deal, Walmer and District War Memorial was officially opened by H.R.H. Prince Henry. At the rear of the hospital was a chapel dedicated on November 29, 1924, as a gift of the ladies of St. Leonard’s Parish with a semi-circular apse added by Mrs Marke Wood.
Fundraising for the hospital and equipment continues at Victoria Walmer & District War Memorial Hospital thanks to a charitable group called the Friends of Deal Hospital.
Their biggest annual fundraiser, Deal Hospital Fete was planned for todaybut was cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic.
You can support the friends' fundraising by donating to their online fundraising page. Visit it by clicking here or send a donation payable to Friends of Hospital Association - Deal either to the hospital or to the treasurer at Friends of Deal Hospital, Victoria Hospital, London Road, Deal, Kent, CT14 9UA.
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