Health: Grand Leeds hall’s history as centre of healthcare

Roundhay Hall.
Roundhay Hall.
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It has been an opulent private home, cared for sick soldiers and trained a generation of nurses in Leeds.

And now Roundhay Hall is celebrating the 25th anniversary as its latest incarnation as a centre for healthcare.

Spire Leeds Hospital – previously BUPA Hospital Leeds – opened in September 1989.

And coincidentally, one of their current patients has a special connection to one of the first documented patients of the hospital.

Gordon Lancaster’s father Harry and uncles Jim and Fred all fought in the First World War.

Jim was killed, though Harry returned home safely, and now 83-year-old Mr Lancaster has provided the hospital with a photo of Fred while he was cared for at Roundhay Hall.

He was injured in the fighting and repatriated, before being brought to the-then Roundhay Auxiliary Convalescent Hospital to recover in September 1916.

A postcard featuring Fred and other soldiers puts a name to one of the first ever patients at the hospital and current staff were delighted to hear his story.

The building had only been named Roundhay Hall in 1913, after being built between 1841 and 1842 as Allerton Hall, a home for Leeds fabric merchant William Smith.

The architect was Samuel Sharp, William’s brother, who was a well-known surgeon at Leeds General Infirmary – his portrait still hangs in a main hallway of the LGI.

After a succession of owners, the house was renamed Roundhay Hall in 1913 when bought by Sir Edward Allen Brotherton, a chemical manufacturer, who put his family coat of arms above the door.

Injured soldiers convalesced there during the Great War and later, during the Second World War, it was used by the LGI as a 62-bed annexe.

In 1945 it was bought by the hospital for £25,000, along with 25 acres of land, from its last private owner Edward Warwick Broadbent.

After initially continuing to be used as a convalescent hospital, in 1951 LGI’s Preliminary Training School for nurses moved to Roundhay Hall.

Hundreds of nurses passed through its doors and lived on site as they completed their training before going to work in other hospitals.

But in 1969 the school was moved back to LGI and the building was empty until the Leeds Hospital for Women moved to Roundhay Hall temporarily in 1974 while a new facility was built.

This was completed in the early 1980s and Roundhay Hall was left empty, falling into disrepair before being bought by BUPA Private Hospitals in 1986.

After a £12m renovation, the 85-bed hospital opened three years later.

Dr Gordon Williams, consultant cardiologist and one of the first consultants to join the hospital, was one of the proponents of the facility and sill practices there.

“I was involved with the hospital at the planning and development stages and I have worked here on a regular basis since it opened,” he said.

“It was one of the first private hospitals in the region to perform complex heart surgery and over the years, it has continued to develop and keep up with the latest technology.

“It is a pleasure to work here – I can give my patients one-to-one care and I have the support of an excellent hospital team.”

Today the hospital – which changed its name to Spire Leeds Hospital in 2007 after BUPA Hospitals was sold – has six state-of-the-art operating theatres, 88 beds, and more than 350 consultants working in a range of specialties.

Among the celebrations planned to mark its 25th anniversary are an afternoon tea party on Friday where current and former staff members will be joined by patients past and present as well as the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Coun David Congreve.

Also due to attend is Leeds historian Margaret Plows, who was brought up in Roundhay Hall’s South Lodge as her father worked as a gardener and then caretaker at the hall between 1946 and 1973.

Mrs Plows has researched the history of the building and compiled it into a book telling its story since it began life as a private house in 1841.

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