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A hospital with history.

THE Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 obliged boroughs and parishes to form 'unions' to provide their populations with workhouses. Workhouses were deemed a better and cheaper option than 'outdoor relief', though many in Huddersfield felt that outdoor relief in a crowded urban area was a better option than accommodation for the destitute. The overseers of the poor dragged their feet for several years before being forced to build workhouses in Almondbury, Honley/Holmfirth at Deanhouse, Golcar, Kirkheaton and Crosland Moor.

Responsibilities were not taken seriously and it wasn't long before a scandal erupted over the desperate conditions at Crosland Moor. There was incredible overcrowding, disease, non-existent sanitation and hygiene, lice and infections which were creating almost daily fatalities. By 1928 the Crosland Moor 'Institution' was converted to a hospital at a cost of pounds 20,000 and opened by Sir Bernard Moynihan, president of the Royal Society of Surgeons.

Nevertheless, it remained a dumping ground for unwanted and mostly elderly people whose relatives couldn't or wouldn't care for them, even though its first operating theatre was installed in 1954. Local writer Ronnie Bray recalls visiting his grandmother there just after the Second World War and the conditions he described mirror those ofMP J P W Mallalieu in 1955 who described the place as 'dreary, drab and desperate'. He was criticised for this, but change was afoot.

In 1959, the 'institution' - then known as the St Luke's Old People's Welfare Home - was closed and 46 elderly people were transferred to a purpose-built home, The Homestead, at Fernside, Almondbury. The following year the hospital started its big period of expansion with the creation of a 100-bed psychiatric unit, the development to be linked to the building of a new hospital in Lindley. In 1961, this was followed by the installation of a 64-bed geriatric unit.

Between then and 1965, various expansions and improvements took place on the 23-acre site, transforming the hospital and removing almost all architectural traces of the old workhouse Turn to Page 2

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END OF THE LINE: The main building, St Luke's House, in 1977. The days when it was a workhouse were just a bad memory by then.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Jan 5, 2011
Words:363
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