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Blackburn Royal Infirmary, Derelict, urbex, Abandonedaphy
Blackburn & East Lancashire Royal Infirmary

Having put off going to this abandoned hospital for some years due to more glamorous other targets - so to speak - when I finally arrived all that was standing was the Edwardian War Memorial Wing, albeit this building was still huge consisting of 4 floors of sheer decay.

Inside, the aesthetics had been transformed. Paint peeling in vast amounts. water everywhere and nature snaking in through shattered windows giving a typical abandoned hospital look to the place. A combination of different coloured walls and boarded up windows made for interesting light, dark in some areas and overly bright in others but always with a strange colour tint to the light to make for interesting images.

Luckily the famous mosaic floor was still intact which considering there was no security at the site was a relief as this was of historical importance. Photographing it was tricky due to that room being pitch black.

Electricity cables hung suspended in mid air along with piping adding a surreal feel to the place. Pigeons flew overhead at inappropriate moments. A grand example of Victorian architecture sadly rotting away and doomed to demolition. A last chance to document it before Barratt changes the landscape forever once more into something all the more dull.




After the first stone was laid on the 24th May 1858 on land at Hollin Bank - which was purchased from Joseph Feilden Esq for £3,200 (£1,600 of which he gave back) - the infirmary finally opened its doors in 1864. Initially there was a 500 patient capacity

and in 1893 a Nurses Home and children's ward were was added in later decades and a lot of that was paid for by the Harrison family. Additionally, In 1897 further extensions were built to increase capacity and patient numbers whereby when the Victoria Wing was built to commemorate the diamond jubilee of the Queen with The Mayor, Fred Baynes, laying the foundation stone for this building. The new capacity stood at 130 by 1908 after completion of the new wing which contained a new ward to house the increase in patients along with an anaesthetic room, recovery room as well as an operating theatre and sterilising room.Extra wings, a Children's Ward and a Nurses Home were added in later decades and a lot of that was paid for by the Harrison family.


The word 'Royal' was officially added to the title on the 21st of April 1914 by a decree of King George V,, becoming known as The Blackburn and East Lancashire Royal Infirmary.

After many alterations and expansions over the years it was decided that further expansions and development in the hospital was not viable and by 2006 most of the services had been moved to what was to be called The Royal Blackburn Hospital on the site

of the former workhouse.


After developers bought the old Infirmary, it was also considered by a Heritage report that the original buildings had lost most of their original character after the alterations and therefore not worthy of being of any historical significance to be saved. The last standing part of the hospital - the subject of my report - was the Edwardian built War Memorial Wing which was built just after the First World War. This has however at the time of writing now also been demolished. Inside this wing was the historic mosaic floor [photograph 27] at the centre of the wing built in memory of the dead and injured in the First World War and this has ben carefully taken up and preserved and it will join other historic items from the 86-year-old building in storage for a special public memorial garden.


Of particular interest is the alleged 'time capsule' that was buried under the Victorian wing of the hospital, There is some debate a to whether this has actually been saved or still lies under the ground.


On most of the site are now new homes and now the final part of the hospital has been demolished a large dementia residential centre will be built upon the site to complete the transformation.


Contact via my website from Mr.Alan Brown who supplied some nice memories of his time from when he trained at Blackburn Royal as a nurse in the late 1960s:

.....I trained there as a nurse from 1969 when Miss Harwood was Acting Matron, to 1973. The School of Nursing moved from Queens Park Hospital to a brand new building at the Infirmary site in about 1970. Your photographs brought back many memories of both staff, patients and the buildings. Whilst working there, little could I imagine that the health services would outlive the hospital. I recall the one of the last building extensions being an intensive care unit, just off the main corridor by matron's office. The operating theatre by the mosaic flooring was latterly mainly for ENT, as it joined wards 9 and 10, run as one ward for ENT patients. Ward 8 below was paediatrics and wards 11 and 12, also run as one ward above, was for acute medicine and ward 13 in the attics was for longer term recovery. The hospital switchboard was on the lower ground floor near the entrance to ward 8, paediatrics.

Something I didn't mention about the switchboard and probably not of interest for your website, is that it was originally run by the GPO. In the past, one of the telephonist was a young lady called Kathleen Ferrier, who won a competition for speaking. Kathleen Ferrier took singing lessons and in her time became one of the foremost contralto singers on the international stage. Unfortunately, she died in 1953 aged 41. My father had a link with the Ferrier family, as her father was a headmaster in Blackburn, who taught my father in 1919....

Thankyou Alan - such wonderful memories!

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