1. A slice of history, thanks to a nearby information point.
The building along with the entire site has had many titles; Bedford Union Workhouse, St Peters Hospital, North Wing Hospital and the latest; North Wing Health Village (as if that's going to make you any happier about going to have your bunion sorted out
2. Today, the listed building has been bolted onto a new shiny health facility (no, it's not a hospital you understand
There was a time when i was a regular at the North Wing site having a mooch around the smashed up morgue (complete with random milk float and Austin Maxi), the nurses block, maternity unit and general surgery wards. For years these areas were so open and with the benefit of fresh running water and electricity, provided very reasonable accommodation for those of no fixed abode.
3. Gradually the derelict areas were cleared and by 2007 all that was not in use was the workhouse (named Shire House) which had been in use as the Health Authority's Headquarters until around 2006. However, the building always remained well secured and remained high on my list. A blood test at the Gilbert Hitchcock House gave the opportunity to have another disheartening gaze at the building that has proved so illusive.
But, all this was about to change early next morning...
4. The chapel is the highlight. Thankfully, and even when boards have dropped off the windows, the fine stained glass windows remain complete.
5. Cast iron ceiling rose.
9. Lovely tile detail with a recess for the toilet to be heated from the other side of the wall.
10. Main entrance and corridor.
16. Even though used as office's from the 1960's, the wide doors together with the interconnecting rooms, suggests that this was an operating theatre.
17. Value products now dressed as Everyday Value look so much more appealing (i think
19. The loft area was likely accommodation for the children in the workhouse. Painted dark green with a cupboard under the eaves, these areas may have seen little use since that time.
Stepping back in time to June 2007 and across from the workhouse, the former maternity unit is being demolished:
20. A warm welcome for expectant parents through the main entrance.
23. Part of the workhouse can be seen behind the excavator.
24. Take back in 2005, the rear of the workhouse illustrates the fascinating add on's and alterations that the workhouse has seen. Originally built with stone from Bedford Castle, hopefully it will not be long before this fine building is put back into use.
And so after a thoroughly enjoyable and overdue encounter with local history, it was time to rejoin the real world. But not before playing ninja with a senior citizen who was wrestling with a parking meter just in front of my exit point. Oblivious to where i had emerged from, he spots me and asks about the parking situation if a ticket cannot be displayed. I suggest going in one of the buildings to ask, but clearly not the one in front of us
Thanks for looking folks