In 1871, the Union purchased a 24-acre site on the slopes of Birch Hill and Starring Hill at Dearnley for £2,500. The following year, building work began on a large new workhouse.
In March 1873, the old Spotland workhouse partially collapsed, possibly because of subsidence due to an old coal-pit beneath the building. However, since the new workhouse was far from ready, the Spotland building had to be patched up and was used for another four yours. Even then its days were not over — in 1881, Rochdale Corporation were forced to rent it for use as a temporary isolation hospital during a smallpox epidemic.
In 1902, a 172-bed infirmary was built at the north of the workhouse. It had a central administration block with male and female ward pavilions to each side.
During the First World War, part of the site was taken over by the military who also erected tents in the grounds.
In 1930, control of the site passed to Rochdale County Borough, with the Poor Law Institution being run by the Public Assistance Committee and the Hospital being run by the Health Committee. With the inauguration of the National Health Service in 1948, the site became a single hospital known as Birch Hill. Now run by Rochdale Healthcare NHS Trust, many of the original buildings are still in use. The former imbecile and infirmary blocks at the east of the site are believed to be scheduled for replacement.
In 2001, English Heritage decided not to grant the buildings 'listed' status and their future was uncertain.
I believe the hospital eventually closed it's doors in early 2013.
Well we dropped the ball here! I think this would have been really good if caught at the right time. It's pretty stripped now and it's obvious much has been demolished, but it's worth a visit just for the clock tower which currently remains intact.
The cellars are also quite impressive, and are much more extensive then in your average hospital. I'd already packed my camera up when I stumbled across a telephone exchange and a few other interesting rooms down there, but there is more to see than is shown here...
The original dining hall is also quite intact, kind of like an asylum main hall but without a stage. Lovely original wooden ceiling and a few gas lamp knuckles dotted around. The curved corridor that leads to it is also rather unique.
Worth a stop if your passing, if for nothing but the tower....
Water tanks in the tower, solid slate!!