1893 – Contagious disease was prevalent all over the country at this time and for many years there were outbreaks of scarlet fever, whooping cough, measles and diphtheria in the Gloucester area.
The Isolation Act of 1893 stressed the need for Isolation Hospitals and gave Local Authorities the power to build or buy suitable properties and to manage them. Whilst the measure was welcomed by the Medical Officers of Health, it was not accepted by those living near the sites of the hospitals because of fear of diseases, particularly smallpox.
1895-1896 – Gloucester Corporation took the decision to build an Infectious Diseases Hospital at Over. Three events spurred this decision: 1. The Isolation act of 1893 and that a hospital was being built in the adjoining county of Worcester. 2. An Isolation Hospital already existed in Stroud Road, Gloucester but this was small and in need of replacement. 3. In 1895 – 1896 there was a serious smallpox epidemic in Gloucester. The Medical Officer of Health’s report for 1895 – 1896 gave the following details:
In the Gloucester area there was a poor public response to the smallpox vaccination programme. 1981 cases of smallpox of which 429 died. 129 cases of diphtheria and 74 cases of scarlet fever. By November 1896 temporary iron hospitals were being erected on the Vineyard Site at Over in case hospital accommodation was required for patients suffering from infectious diseases.
1897 – In May of this year the formal decision was taken by Gloucester City Council to provide a General Hospital for Infectious Diseases at Over.
During June, the eastern side of the Vineyard site at Over had been selected for the site of the hospital. It was agreed by the council that the hospital would comprise an Admin. Block with rooms for the Matron, Medical Attendant, Custodians and Servants with separate accommodation for nurses of fever and diphtheria wards. Rooms would also be available for convalescents.
In July, the Local Government Board gave sanction for the building of the hospital on the understanding that smallpox cases would not be treated here. Glos. Corporation appointed Gloucester based Messers Waller and Son and Messers Medland and Son as the joint architects. Also, in July, Highnam parish Council are informed of the proposal to build a hospital in the parish. The Parish Council objected to the scheme but, after solicitors advice, decided not to make any stand on the proposal to build a hospital in the parish. Alan was agreed in December by the Local Government Board for the purchase of the Vineyard site at Over. This land was owned by the Bishop of Gloucester.
HH is holding the comprehensive time line of Over hospital through to 1989. Contact HH for more details.