Royal Alexandra Hospital for Sick Children

Royal Alexandra Hospital for Sick Children
Photo by Tony Mould
Dedication plaque
Photo by Tony Mould

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.

b) ROYAL ALEXANDRA HOSPITAL for SICK CHILDREN : The Brighton Hospital for Sick Children was founded at 178 Western Road on 3 August 1868 by Dr R.P.B.Taafe. It expanded into an adjacent building in 1870, but in the same year the hospital moved to the disused ChurchHillSchool in Dyke Road where it was reopened with twenty beds on 14 July 1871 by the Bishop of Chichester. The present hospital building was erected on the site in 1880-1, a three-storey red-brick building which was opened on 21 July 1881 by Princess Alexandra. Decorated with terracotta mouldings, it was designed in Queen Anne style by Thomas Lainson at a cost of £10,500. The girls’ ward was named the Taafe Ward in honour of the founder.
The Royal Alexandra has now been enlarged to 114 beds. A two-storey out-patient and isolation ward opened in 1904; the east wing was opened by the Duke and Duchess of York on 30 May 1928; and the Gillespie Wing was opened on 4 December 1945 by Princess Elizabeth, who also attended a concert at the Dome in aid of hospital funds. The Cawthorne Ward was converted in 1966 from the 1896 nurses’ home. Since 1954 the patron has been the present Princess Alexandra. {24,98,115}

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

  • I am mortified to find that this exquisite building is under danger of demolition to be replaced by another block of flats.What an absolute tragedy. Please object by January 25th!

    By Alex (02/01/2008)
  • It is a disgrace that this lovely building should be demolished. Is the council aware of their responsibility to maintain historical buildings? I spent many months there as a child.

    By Maureen Foster (03/06/2008)
  • There is still time to object to the demolition of this beautiful building. The replacement development is 151 Wimpey flats! Say no online to the council, the deadline 7th October 2008:

    By L Newman (20/09/2008)
  • I’m disgusted that the RoyalAlexandraHospital for sick children is closing down and turning into flats…. I was in and out of that hospital from a baby till I was 14 years old, met so many friends there, the nurses and doctors were lovely. I’m just disappointed that such a great hospital has to be shut down.

    By Shelly Paine (29/09/2008)
  • In 1967 I was treated as a child in this great hospital and seen by the great Dr Mann. He diagnosed my illness.

    By Richard Wallace (23/09/2011)
  • Hi, I spent most of my childhood from the time I was born in 1951 to when I was 16 at the Alexandra Hospital. I hated going in and I hated coming out cos I loved it there. I called it my second home because I spent about two weeks a month althrough my childhood. I had very bad exzema all through my childhood. My late mother used to take me to go and see Dr Colin Jones- he was a lovely man and I can still see his face.

    By Stephen Raynsford (15/04/2012)
  • I spent a lot of my childhood in and out of the Alex, my consultant was Dr Nash and I truly loved the man, he was so kind. I still remember the nurses and as I was a long term patient they used to bring me in presents when they went on holiday, one of them even got me a signed photo of John Lennon from a concert she attended. I loved the uniform and hats and always said I would go back and be a nurse, but sadly never did. I would love to find some old photos and history on the hospital. It was a lovely place and I only have very fond memories of it. I still recall the nurses’ prize-giving when the sisters received their wonderful belt buckles. We were all wheeled out in our beds into the garden and the doctors threw sweets and sugar cubes from the wards upstairs to us in our beds down in the garden. Wonderful memories.

    By Tina Ellis (04/05/2012)
  • Does anyone know what happened to the enormous beautiful stained glass window that was part of one of these buildings? When demolition was due I tried to discover what would happen and so hope that it has been relocated safely elsewhere. The building was an architectural work of art with so many lost details, but I just hope that the window was preserved?

    By Essa (26/09/2012)
  • I am sure this is the hospital I went to to have my head stitched up. I had fallen down some steps backwards and cut my head open. I remember being given a book called “The House That Jack Built” as I had been good. Had to go back to get the stitches out as well. I was about 3 at the time in 1952 and was living in Waterloo Street, Hove, that’s where I fell down the steps. All I was upset about was getting blood on my new coat!

    By Anne Newman (27/09/2012)
  • I had my tonsils out and gromets put in at this hospital. Was in and out a lot at the Outpatients dept too. Mr Topham was my ENT specialist at the time.

    By Caroline (13/05/2013)
  • I have good reason to remember the childrens’ hospital as I went in there to have my tonsils out when I was in my 1st year in senior school and missed a school trip to Hampton Court. But while in there we had a visit from Princess Alexandra and the Evening Argus came and took photos – it was about 1954 I think. All the girls in the wards had yellow bows put in our hair.

    By Kathleen Catt (nee Cornford) (13/05/2013)
  • In 1947, before I was born, just as my father was walking up the steps of the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Sick Children my brother Terry died there from gastroenteritis. My father had been called from work in Lancing and my brother was just 3 months old. Fast forward to August 1976 and I had a call from my wife to meet her there with our daughter, who was 3 months old and had just been diagnosed with gastroenteritis. At the time I worked in the old Prudential offices on North Street, opposite the end of Ship Street (now the Premier Inn). In the heat of that 1976 summer I ran uphill all the way to the hospital in record time, with thoughts of what had happened to my dad going over in my mind. Fortunately medicine had moved on significantly since 1947 and our daughter survived. It made what had happened to my parents all the more poignant though. In 1955 (or perhaps 56) I was diagnosed with nephritis and spent four weeks in the Alexandra myself. I was in a mixed ward of children and I recall us all having to have a sleep after lunch each day. My stay included the Easter weekend, and when we woke on Easter Sunday every child had a saucer of broken chocolate next to their bed. This had been taken from the giant (or so it seemed to us kids) Easter egg that Woolworths in Western Road displayed every year before donating it to the Children’s Hospital. I also recall sneaking a look at the girls’ bare bums as they lay flat on the bed when injections were being given. God help you if one of the nurses caught you looking though!

    By Alan Phillips (15/05/2013)
  • I was in this hospital since I was a baby. I was in and out of the hospital and met new people and friends. I remember I was ill and next to my bed there was a family who brought Monopoly and played that. They had a play room. The nurses where friendly who looked after us.  When I go past the flats I say I was born there. Sadly missed

    By Matt (07/04/2018)
  • So sad to learn that the hospital building as I remember it is no more.  I trained there and worked as  a staff nurse on Elizabeth ward .  Very happy memories of a very happy, well run specialist hospital with very dedicated medical staff. 

    By Jill Conrad (Champion) (20/04/2018)
  • Fondest memories of my nursing training at the Alex which shaped my life going forward. 

    By Carmel Stagles (16/09/2018)
  • I trained at this amazing hospital from 1970 to 1974. Our set was the first in the country to do the new RSCN RGN examinations. We had fantastic support from the doctors and tutors to get through this exam. There were 13 of us to start with . We had a 100 percent pass rate and we were given with all other student nurses in the group a celebration barbecue in the school of nursing grounds Kingsway, Hove. We were a close set in the children’s nurses group as we were also the ones who had to wear the “new white dresses” it was disappointing as we had looked forward to the pink uniforms that were so smart and well known at the time, I look back at that time with nostalgia and gratitude having learnt so much about every aspect of nursing. Sadly lost contact with Ruth, the 2 Christines, Shiela , and Dorothy.

    By Linda known then as Evans then Hawkes (13/07/2020)
  • I was a student nurse at this wonderful hospital 1975-1979 sadly failed my combined finals when I was 6 months pregnant with my first baby but had passed my hospital finals and was able to work as an SEN until I passed my registration. I am retiring soon but the training I had was second to none and held me in good stead for the 46 years I have been nursing. some wonderful ward sisters and tutors Mrs Gardiner Mrs Falkner and Sally Huband to name a few.

    By joanna dyckes (06/03/2021)

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