Development of hospitals

St. George's Chapel and County Hospital, 1841: Men, women and children walking in the grounds of St. George's Chapel. Behind them is the Sussex County Hospital and Sea-Bathing Infirmary, which opened on 11 June 1828 with four large and twenty-three small wards, catering for 80 patients.
Image reproduced with kind permission from Brighton and Hove in Pictures by Brighton and Hove City Council
The Royal Sussex County Hospital, 1975 View of the Royal Sussex County Hospital. Photograph Copyright Evening Argus.
Image reproduced with kind permission from Brighton and Hove in Pictures by Brighton and Hove City Council
Entrance and Gatehouse at Brighton Borough Hospital, c. 1900: Bevendean Hospital originally opened in 1881 as a smallpox sanatorium. The main buildings were erected in 1898, and the institution became the Brighton Borough Hospital, specialising in treating people with tuberculosis and other infectious diseases until it was taken over by the National Health Service in 1948. It then became Bevendean Hospital, and continued to treat patients until April 1989. Most of the buildings have been demolished and a housing estate has been built on much of the site. The Sussex Beacon hospice and continuing care centre for people with HIV/AIDS is also within the former hospital grounds.
Image reproduced with kind permission from Brighton and Hove in Pictures by Brighton and Hove City Council

Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990.  As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.

c) DEVELOPMENT of HOSPITALS: The Sussex General Infirmary was established in November 1812 in the North Street building of the Brighthelmston Dispensary, and continued until the opening of the town’s first hospital, the SussexCountyHospital and General Sea-Bathing Infirmary, in Eastern Road in 1828. Patients at the hospital were treated upon the recommendation of a subscriber.
Several other voluntarily-supported hospitals opened in the latter nineteenth century for specialist treatment. In 1881 Brighton Corporation opened a borough sanatorium at Bevendean Road, and converted the Elm Grove workhouse into the General Hospital (originally Brighton Municipal Hospital) from 1935. The corporation also maintained a smallpox isolation hospital from 1901 at Fulking Grange on the Downs above Fulking, and a lunatic asylum at St Francis’s Hospital, Haywards Heath, from 1858 {83,115}. However, following the 1947 Health Act, all hospitals in the area were taken over by the Ministry of Health on 5 July 1948.

The following four hospitals are no longer in existence.

d) BEVENDEAN HOSPITAL: The former Bevendean Hospital originated as a wooden sanatorium for infectious diseases. Known as the Brighton Borough Hospital, it was erected on the eastern side of Bevendean Road in 1881 during an outbreak of smallpox. The first section of the permanent borough sanatorium, a three-storey building with the borough arms on turreted corners which latterly served as the main reception and administrative block, was designed by borough engineer Francis May and opened on 27 October 1898 by the mayor, Sir John Blaker. The sanatorium entrance was flanked by two red-brick lodges. An isolation pavilion was opened at the same time to the north-west with a scarlet fever pavilion to the north; two further pavilions were added in 1903. The sanatorium operated principally as an isolation hospital for infectious diseases under municipal control until 1948 when, having been taken over by the Ministry of Health, it became Bevendean Hospital. Three years later the buildings were quarantined for thirty-four days during a famous outbreak of smallpox. A diagnostic theatre and x-ray unit were added in 1967. Latterly used for the care of psychiatric and geriatric patients as well as the treatment of infectious diseases, the 127-bed hospital was closed to in-patients on 24 April 1989 because of budget cuts, and the last day-ward shut on 26 September 1990. The buildings are said to be haunted by former patients. An AIDS hospice and housing is to be built on the site. {97,115,123}

e) BRIGHTON, HOVE AND PRESTON DENTAL HOSPITAL: Opening in 1886 at 39 Marlborough Place, it moved to 116 Queen’s Road in 1889. In 1917 the hospital moved to 27 Queen’s Road, and then to 7 Buckingham Road in 1931 where it remained until the formation of the National Health Service in 1948. {83,115}

f) SUSSEX MATERNITY HOSPITAL: Established in 1830 by Dr Lyons at 69 High Street, it was originally known as the Lying-in Institution and Dispensary for Women and Children, and gave assistance and comfort to poor women during confinement. In about 1854 it moved to 76 West Street and became the Women’s Lying-in Institution and Hospital. Other branches were opened at 9 Portland Road, Hove, and 10 Richmond Terrace, and in 1912 it became Brighton and Hove Women’s Hospital.
In 1922 the hospital moved to the former BrightonGrammar School building at 76-80 Buckingham Road where it was renamed the Sussex Maternity Hospital. The square, three-storey building was extended in about 1929, but with the transfer of maternity cases to the the new Tower Block of the Royal Sussex in 1969-70, the hospital became redundant and was acquired by the corporation for social services purposes; it was demolished in September 1976 and an East Sussex social education centre now occupies the site. There were also branches of the maternity hospital at 16 Wellington Road, and at the former clinic in Whitehawk Avenue. {6,24,83,115,123}

g) SUSSEX THROAT AND EAR HOSPITAL: Founded in 1879 at 17 Grenville Place, it moved to 23 Queen’s Road in 1882, with beds for in-patients from 1889. A new red-brick building opened in Church Street in 1897, to the west of Queen’s Road , with a two-storey extension added in 1931, but the 23-bed hospital closed on 1 August 1986 when it was replaced by a new unit at the Royal Sussex County Hospital . It was demolished in September 1988 and replaced by St Nicholas Court. {24,83,123}

Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.

Comments about this page

  • Anyone interested about medical practices and attitudes, as well as the development of these hospitals in the 19th Century, will probably be interested in this site especially chapters 42 onwards. This Blaker family were prominent in Portslade for many centuries. No relationship to the Mayor of Brighton’s family has ever been established and if it ever existed, it was probably before records began.

    By Chris (27/06/2007)
  • Hove General Hospital no longer exists either, which is a real shame. I remember it really well, I used to walk past it every day on my way to high school. I believe the building itself is still very much in use as apartments now but I could be wrong. Does anyone else know if this is the case or what it’s new use is? I would love to know if that’s the case.

    By Chrissie Burton (22/09/2007)
  • In the 1901 census, sisters Rose M and Eva F Shagouri, along with others, were nurses at the Brighton & Hove Dispensary at 86 Sackville Road, Hove. Does anyone have more information about this business?

    By Graham Jackson (11/07/2012)
  • As a child I visited the Throat and Ear hospital many times. I had scarlet fever at 3 years (1945) old and developed a mastoid infection as a result. I had my tonsils removed at 9 years old and a mastoidectomy at 11 years. I remember they had ‘pillophones’ which I loved. Shaped like a saucer you put one under your pillow and tuned in to the radio so you could lie down and listen without making any noise. Quite an innovation in 1953 I think. I remember looking out of the ward window onto St Nicholas’ churchyard. Also had many daily outpatient visits to have my ear syringed and packed with gauze. It was excruciating and I always pulled all the gauze out when I got home as it was so painful. The surgeon who operated on me was a Mr Alan.

    By Maureen Sweet (31/03/2013)
  • My late mother-in-law had TB in 1953 not long after giving birth to her son. Her son, my husband, was taken care of for 5 yrs by carers but so many unanswered questions. His first contact with his parents was when he was 5 years old but as their relationship wasn’t close, he never asked questions but he feels he needs to know why the 5 year absence. How he can find out his mum’s old records? He remembers his dad once pointing out the French Convalescent Home in Brighton and saying, “That’s where your mum is”. Thank you. Yours sincerely, Christina

    By Christina (23/02/2016)

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