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Report - Cambridge Military Hospital, Aldershot (October 2016)

Freddie Valentine

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#1
HISTORY

The Cambridge Military Hospital was built by Messrs Martin Wells and Co. of Aldershot. It was named after Prince George, Duke of Cambridge and opened on 18 July 1879.

In the First World War the hospital was the first to receive casualties directly from the Western Front. Cambridge Hospital was also the first place where plastic surgery was performed in the British Empire. After the Second World War, with the decline in importance of Britain's military commitments, civilians were admitted to the hospital. It pioneered the supply of portable operating theatres and supplies for front line duties.

It was closed on 2 February 1996 due to the high cost of running the old building as well as the discovery of asbestos in the walls.

EXPLORE

A friend and I arrived in Aldershot fairly early one crisp October morning. After eating a Gregg's sausage roll and trying to process the crushing existential dread stemming therefrom, we made our way over to the site. Well, this was far from easy; access was tricky to say the least. After a fair bit of research, it seems that security has been beefed up at the site. Similarly, there was a fair amount of work going on, with several workmen removing parts of the walls, flooring, light fixtures and ceilings. Asbestos everywhere. Good job we packed the masks.

Anyway, after a patient wait, we saw an opportunity to get in. After such a long and arduous process gaining access, we were relieved to finally set eyes on the now faded internal grandeur of this impressive piece of architecture. Our relief was short lived, however. After only about ten minutes cautiously mooching about the place, we triggered an unseen PIR camera which instantaneously caused both an eardrum-fisting alarm and the scrambling of several Gurkha military security guards to surround the perimeter of the building.

We lurked in the shadows listening to a chorus of guards shouting into their radios. We came very close to getting caught; about 50cm to be precise. But through patience and a bit of sheer luck, we managed to get out undetected.

Unfortunately, given all of this drama, I was only able to take a few shots. Similarly, it seems that a lot of the original features have now been, or are in the process of being, removed. Bit of a shame really. But I guess that's just the way things go.

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Freddie Valentine

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#3
Cheers dude. I normally take hundreds on an explore, so I was most frustrated to have left with just these. Still, it was quite an adventure and certainly got the heart rate going so all was not lost!
 

Six

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
#4
It's a shame you didn't get more time in there as it's a wonderful place!

I'm assuming the PIRS are new as I don't recall seeing any on my visit however I did spend about 15minutes sat in a bush about 3metres from a Ghurka trying not to giggle when I was leaving.
 

Freddie Valentine

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#5
It's a shame you didn't get more time in there as it's a wonderful place!

I'm assuming the PIRS are new as I don't recall seeing any on my visit however I did spend about 15minutes sat in a bush about 3metres from a Ghurka trying not to giggle when I was leaving.
Not a vastly dissimilar situation to that which we found ourselves in! A pigeon nearly gave us away, deciding to take an unusually loud shit right when the bloke was peering in and listening...it's funny now but at the time I certainly wasn't laughing!
 

The_Raw

28DL Regular User
Regular User
#6
They're a nice bunch the Gurkhas, probably would've made you a cuppa tea! Gutted I never went back to see this part of the building, sounds like it's a bit late now
 

Freddie Valentine

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#8
They're a nice bunch the Gurkhas, probably would've made you a cuppa tea! Gutted I never went back to see this part of the building, sounds like it's a bit late now
Possibly, but I didn't want to risk it! Yeah, if you do go I would exercise extreme caution and perhaps do it at a time when nobody is likely to be around...
 

Freddie Valentine

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#9
Good report actually. Sometimes it's good to hear that things aren't always a walk in the park.
Cheers dude, I appreciate it.

I completely agree that without a challenge, not only would the experience not be as exhilarating, but also it would mean that the world and his brother would be in there and likely trashing it for the rest of us.
 

Ordnance

Moderator
Moderator
#12
It was closed on 2 February 1996 due to the high cost of running the old building as well as the discovery of asbestos in the walls.
Under 'Options for Change' ALL Military hospitals were announced for closure from 1900 onwards

Many factors were given as the reason for its closure. This includes the restructuring of a more mobile army needing to train and utilise their nurses and Medics for front line treatments in field hospitals. Soldiers brought back to the UK could easily be treated in civilian hospitals as they were during the Iraq & Afghanistan Wars.

Another reason for the closure of the CMH was because it was an old historic building that cost too much to maintain and repair. For example as stated, asbestos was found in the walls and the ceilings and was expensive to safely remove. The upper floor was unable to be used for patient care because of fire health and safety. This reduced the bed capacity of the hospital.

Other health and safety issues involved the kitchens that needed upgrading and the water supply throughout the hospital often had a yellow tinge from running through cast iron pipes.

Since 2001, the main treatment centre for military patients seriously injured has been the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM) based at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB), with other smaller medical reception centres embedded in other NHS hospitals near to major garrisons. Frimley Green for Aldershot for example.
 

Freddie Valentine

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#14
Under 'Options for Change' ALL Military hospitals were announced for closure from 1900 onwards

Many factors were given as the reason for its closure. This includes the restructuring of a more mobile army needing to train and utilise their nurses and Medics for front line treatments in field hospitals. Soldiers brought back to the UK could easily be treated in civilian hospitals as they were during the Iraq & Afghanistan Wars.

Another reason for the closure of the CMH was because it was an old historic building that cost too much to maintain and repair. For example as stated, asbestos was found in the walls and the ceilings and was expensive to safely remove. The upper floor was unable to be used for patient care because of fire health and safety. This reduced the bed capacity of the hospital.

Other health and safety issues involved the kitchens that needed upgrading and the water supply throughout the hospital often had a yellow tinge from running through cast iron pipes.

Since 2001, the main treatment centre for military patients seriously injured has been the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM) based at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB), with other smaller medical reception centres embedded in other NHS hospitals near to major garrisons. Frimley Green for Aldershot for example.
Thanks for the additional info, dude!
 

Ordnance

Moderator
Moderator
#15
Looks to me that remedial work is being carried out to remove asbestos from the building, not an easy or cheep task.
 

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