28DL Regular User
The origins of the North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary can be traced back to quite humble beginnings, with the original Dispensary and House of Recovery that were constructed in Etruria in 1804. It wasn’t long before the hospital had outgrown its buildings and in 1819 the first Infirmary was opened, also in Etruria but on a new site not far from Etruria Hall, an area that was densely populated with Shelton Bar, Wedgwood, Etruria Gas Works and various collieries. It was actually all of this surrounding industry that forced the infirmary to relocate once again in 1869 to nearby Hartshill, where it could be up and away from the heavily polluted area of the original buildings. The relocation actually took over 20 years due to constant conflict between the Six Towns as to where it should be sited. This was of course in the days before the towns merged to form the City of Stoke on Trent.
The original 1869 buildings were built in the pavilion style around a large central courtyard, over time this layout has become significantly distorted. The courtyard being excavated to construct a large semi underground kitchen and a large link corridor constructed to tie this building in with the later buildings constructed on the site including the vast nurses accommodation blocks, accident unit and fracture clinic amongst several other buildings.
More recently the Royal Infirmary was merged with the nearby Orthopaedic Hospital and City General Hospital to form the University Hospital of North Staffordshire. In 2003 it was determined that under a £350,000,000 PFI development the hospitals would be rebuilt and relocated onto the City General site. Eventually in 2012 after several years of construction, the Royal Infirmary site was finally closed when all services had been relocated.
The plan is to demolish all buildings on the site, with the exception of the former Trust HQ, for the construction of housing. Although as far as I’m aware the planning permission that was received for that has now lapsed.
If people are interested in learning any more, I’d recommend the following sources:
The Potteries Website - http://www.thepotteries.org/ns/index_third.htm
Alun Davies’ book “The North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary”
This has been on the cards ever since it shut back in 2012, but until recently getting in was always a major problem. The car parks that more or less completely enclose the buildings are in constant use by staff at the new hospital on the old City General site, and as such there is 24/7 security on site who are pretty spot on. The buildings are also routinely inspected and secured up as necessary. It's been a tricky and very drawn out process trying to get in, countless visits were required over the past 5 years but eventually it paid off and personally I wasn't disappointed at all in what we found. Whilst it’s generally in pretty good shape, the elements have started to take hold in some parts of the site, but it seems to of faired quite well against vandalism.
Unfortunately, there are still large parts of the site that we haven't managed to get into for various reasons, hopefully they’ll get done eventually either by us or anyone else who visits. The engineering side of the hospital, nuclear medicine department and mortuary all look pretty interesting. There have always been rumours of tunnels between the different sites too, but yet to find any sign that these actually exist.
Loads of visits were necessary and most were frustratingly fruitless as is fairly standard in this hobby, but eventually I've managed to piece enough stuff together to post a report up. So hope you enjoy it, and more people visit! As you can imagine with it being such a big site I’ve ended up with quite a lot of photos to cover what we have done, so this will be quite photo heavy, sorry about that.
Exterior of the original 1869 Infirmary buildings, in later years this became the Trust HQ building. If you look on the extreme right hand side at the end of the block you can see some square towers with flat roofs, originally these featured steeply angled tiled roofs however at some point these were removed. An aerial photograph from 1975 (on The Potteries, link above) shows these already having been removed from three of the wings.
On the complete opposite side of the site is the former A&E, constructed in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s.
A photo from one of the more successful earlier visits, although there was no way of getting in we had a good time wandering around the roofs.
Still yet to find away into here, the Nuclear Medicine Department and Mortuary.
Original 1869 Buildings and 1950’s Operating Theatre Block
It makes sense to start with the oldest building on the site. The original Infirmary operating theatre was replaced with a more modern version in the 1950’s; one of the original pavilions was demolished to make way for it.
This room directly above the entrance hall originally featured wood panelling to the walls, not quite as impressive nowadays.
The majority of the tiling on the corridor walls was painted over, but behind this boxing a small glimpse could be had.
As close as we could get to the small chapel, obviously that wall was originally an external one with the operating theatre complex being constructed at a far later date.
The large kitchens were located beneath ground level, under the central courtyard area.
Located up the hill from the Infirmary buildings is the Nurses Accommodation, originally over twice the size it is now but it’s still rather large. In later years this was mostly disused with the exception of the ground floor which was used as training rooms and a nursery. A lot of the original features were concealed behind plasterboard but someone has kindly been smashing away and uncovered some of them. There’s also a really cool curved door at one end.