Shotley Bridge Hospital

In the early 1900s, a scheme was proposed to set up a tuberculosis (TB) sanatorium jointly run by several unions in the north-east, including Gateshead. In 1906, after the scheme was abandoned, the Gateshead Guardians began to pursue their own plans.

In 1909 the Gateshead Guardians acquired the Whinney House estate at Shotley Bridge for the purpose of building a TB sanatorium.  The 56 bedroom sanatorium, built at the east end of the estate, was opened in 1912. The two-storey structure, designed by Newcastle architects Newcombe and Newcombe, cost around £4,500.

In 1912, the Guardians also built a workhouse on the site, designed by the same architects, to accommodate about 400 residents. It is likely that  this was intended to relieve pressure on the High Teams workhouse in Gateshead by accommodating elderly and infirm inmates. The workhouse comprised a central administration block and nurses home, with large, three storey ward blocks on either side, all connected by an enclosed corridor at ground floor level. There was also a laundry and boiler house on its north side. This complex was situated towards the middle of the site and remained the central part of Shotley Bridge Hospital later on.

In 1919, following the end of the First World War, the site was leased to the Ministry of Health to house military casualties. In 1922 it was transferred to the Ministry of Pensions, housing ex-servicemen still requiring medical treatment.

The site was taken over by Newcastle City Council n 1926 for use as a Mental Deficiency Hospital, becoming known as the “Shotley Bridge Colony”. 

In 1941, during the Second World War, the site became the Shotley Bridge Emergency Hospital, and accommodation was expanded with the construction of 16 hut blocks to the south east of the main buildings.  In 1948 the hospital joined the National Health Service as Shotley Bridge General Hospital.

Over the following half century, with further developments on the site, the hospital served as a major centre for medical care in the North East, known particularly for its burns treatment and plastic surgery functions. 

A new outpatients block was built in 1950 followed by a tower block in 1969, which included a new maternity unit.

With the opening of the University Hospital of North Durham in 2001 many functions became centralised at Durham and by 2005 the majority of the old hospital buildings had been demolished, including the original TB sanatorium, the workhouse buildings and the hillside huts.

What remains now are the most modern parts of the hospital. It is owned by NHS Property Services and occupied by the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.  Storey Homes built a housing estate on the land formerly occupied by the Shotley Bridge colony.

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