Convalescent Police Seaside Home 1890/1988: Part 2

The new Convalescent Police Seaside Home was designed by J.G. Gibbens  and the project was approved in 1892; the imposing red brick building at 11 Portland Road was built by local builder William Willett at cost price.

Paid for by voluntary donations

The foundation stone was laid by Princess Christian, Queen Victoria’s third daughter, on 29 October 1892 and the completed building was officially opened by the Countess of Chichester on 21 July 1893. The finished building cost £9,210 7s 9d and was paid for by voluntary donations; supporters gave generously, so much so that two years after it opened only £300 was outstanding.

Better equipped for purpose

Features that were lacking at Clarendon Villas had been addressed in the plans for the new home. A small surgery and infirmary allowed for the treatment and care of bed ridden patients. Convalescing policemen who stayed in the home were suffering from various conditions;  in particular bronchitis and other pulmonary diseases. Some of the policemen were the victims of assault and injuries sustained in trying to stop runaway horses.

A popular spot in summer

There was now accommodation for fifty men, and it became  a popular place in the summer months when police officers were allowed to spend their annual leave at the home, providing there was room. Miss May Griffin transferred to the new home when it opened assuming the role of  lady superintendent.

Service as an emergency hospital

During times of national emergency the home was utilised as an auxiliary hospital. The first time this occurred was during the severe influenza epidemic of 1895 when  there were between 50 and 60 men being treated at the home at its peak. 

World War 1

With the outbreak of  World War I in 1914, the home became an Auxiliary Military Hospital with 25 beds placed at the disposal of the War Office, preference being given to police reservists or volunteers from police forces. By 1916 another 20 beds were allocated for war wounded. The military role ended  in February 1919 after treating 544 military and Naval patients from all parts of the country as well as from Canada, South Africa and Australia. Injuries treated included malaria, trench fever and various wounds plus 67 cases of shell-shock.

Closure and relocation

The home continued to offer care for police officers until 1966, the majority of the patients came from the south east and London Metropolitan Police. A new Police Convalescent Home at 205 Kingsway was opened by the Queen Mother and the Portland Road site was sold to East Sussex County Council in December 1966. The Kingsway site closed down on 18 June 1988 its role transferred to a new Police Rehabilitation Centre at Goring-on-Thames, Berkshire.

Still offering care

Number 11 Portland Road was reopened as an elderly care home and renamed Portland House Nursing Home and operated by Social Services. It is now Privately Owned , caring for 40 residents.

Sources:

Middleton, J. (2002, 2003) ‘Encyclopaedia of Hove & Portslade’ Vol.9, M to O, Brighton & Hove Libraries

Walbrook, H. M. (1920) ‘Hove and the great war. A record and a review, together with the roll of honour and list of distinctions‘ Hove, The Cliftonville Press

Comments about this page

  • Hi I would like some history on the buildings next door to the Polive Convalescent Home on Portland Road. It is a row of four houses all built around the same time to house the nurses who worked in the home. Can anyone help? Thanks Johanna

    By Johanna Thomson (04/07/2016)
  • I really appreciated having the opportunity to view the atmospheric photos of this extraordinary building close to my house on Portland Road. For many years, I wondered what its original purpose had been and why the impressive design stood out quite so much in relationship to everything around it. It is moving to see the faces of the men that stayed there all those years ago. Many thanks for posting this archive of the local area online. Does anyone know exactly when the private houses opposite the nursing home date from?

    By Helen (13/03/2017)
  • Thank you for this article, my grandfather was an officer that was sent here in 1905/6 after he was attacked while trying to make an arrest of poachers in Annesly,Notts,it is very nice to see where he spent his last months as he died after being discharged and returning to duty for a very short time before he passed away. Are there any archives about past patients?

    By Kathleen Parker nee Holmes (12/10/2020)

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