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A treatise on hygiene and public health

Plan of a Newcastle Hospital, from: Thomas Stevenson and Shirley F. Murphy. A treatise on hygiene and public health. London: J. & A. Churchill, 1892-1894 [St Thomas's Historical Books Collection RA485 STE]Plan of a Newcastle Hospital, from: Thomas Stevenson and Shirley F. Murphy. A treatise on hygiene and public health. London: J. & A. Churchill, 1892-1894 [St Thomas's Historical Books Collection RA485 STE]This is the ground-plan for a city hospital in Newcastle for infectious diseases, dating from 1892.

From it you can see how elaborate hospital ground-plans has become by the end of the Victorian era, and yet how regimented; how large the sites devoted to them were, and how pavilion plan wards had become a kind of orthodoxy.

The contrast between the front reception block (on the left) and the wards is very evident on the plan, as are the simplicity of the arrangements for water supply and drainage, the space set aside for expansion, the strict bifurcation of wards into male and female accommodation, and the exile to the outermost reaches of the mortuary and the fumigation station.

One cannot help feeling, however, as one examines this plan, how very chilly it would have been to walk between blocks on a winter’s day, and wonder how cotton-clad nurses, and trolley patients fared in wind and rain, in those covered open corridors.

The only problem with this design (to this viewer) is the placing of the isolation block for infectious diseases bang in the centre of the site, where - depending on the prevailing wind direction, and the operational circulation of staff – there would appear to be a risk of affecting other blocks.

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