VAD Hospital, Cheltenham Racecourse

Prestbury Park, Cheltenham

Location:  Prestbury Park, Cheltenham

Grid Reference:   SO 954244

Opened:   28th October 1914

Closed:   28th February 1919

Beds:   220

Average Resident Patients in 1918:   174

Total Casualties Treated:   3169

IWMWM Ref:  In due course

 

Wounded soldiers with staff, pictured in a ward at the Racecourse VAD Hospital in 1914.

 

The hospital was staffed by Nos 14 and 18 Gloucestershire Voluntary Aid Detachments and its officers were:

Commandant:   Miss Ratcliff, OBE

Assistant Commandant:   Mrs McLeod

Medical Officers:   Mr C Braine-Hartnell, Dr R Davies, Dr E A Dent, Dr A Sanderson-Clow

Lady Superintendent:   Miss K R Peters, ARRC

Quartermaster:   Miss Baker

Hon Secretary and Treasurer:   Mr R Bagnall-Oakeley

Masseuses:   Miss S Ratcliff, Miss Cossey, Mrs J Ratcliff

 

Notes by the Commandant (on closure in 1919)

This hospital opened on 28th October 1914, with 13 Belgian patients and 2 British - 100 beds, which were increased in April 1917 to 150 - and in 1918 to 200 with 20 emergency.   During the first winter we had no hot water installation or any heating or light, except oil lamps.   In the spring electric light was put in, hot water laid on, an operating theatre made, a linen room with hot airing racks and a part of the open court was enclosed as a recreation room, also the ambulance room was converted into a chapel, in which regular services were held and many men confirmed.   In May 1917 a large hut, "Southam Ward", 36 beds, was given by the detachment and erected on the paddock.

Mr Unwin kindly gave another hut (12 beds) in 1918.   We had two revolving shelters - and the many balconies and open boxes were admirably suited for open air treatment.   18 of the staff worked continuously from beginning to end, including Dr Dent, Sister Peters, Lady Superintendent, Sister Hands, night sister, and Sister Thorp.   My detachment, Glos 14, was ably assisted by members of Glos 18 and Glos 50.

 

Miss Bridget HANDS, Nursing Sister of Cheltenham Racecourse VAD Hospital, was awarded the Royal Red Cross 2nd Class (titled Associate of the Royal Red Cross) in November 1917.   The ARRC is awarded "for special devotion and competency in the performance of actual nursing duties."

 

 

 

Miss Kate Ruby PETERS, Lady Superintendent of Cheltenham Racecourse VAD Hospital, was awarded the Royal Red Cross 2nd Class (titled Associate of the Royal Red Cross) in November 1917.   The ARRC is awarded "for special devotion and competency in the performance of actual nursing duties."

 

 

 

 

Ward 2, Racecourse Hospital and, on the right, Ward 2 Annex taken in March 1918.   (Photos by kind permission of Mr David Hanks).

 

The building remains in use at Prestbury Park Racecourse today.

Further reading: 

1.   "Cheltenham in the Great War" by Neela Mann (ISBN 978 0 7509 6415 9) published in 2016, describes the considerable contribution to the war effort made by the Cheltenham Branch of the British Red Cross Society during 1914 - 1919.

2.   "VAD Hospitals in Cheltenham" from The Wilson Collection and Archives at the Cheltenham Museum can be viewed
here and here.

3.   "Gloucestershire Red Cross Hospitals" can be seen
here.

 

Page last updated: 1st January 2017

 

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