Cambridge Military Hospital
Five hours of driving over, Shane (Mockingbird) and I arrive at our latest location that had been planned for a couple of weeks. A huge sprawling complex of buildings surrounded by multiple razor wire fences and padlocked gates.
Finally finding ourselves inside after negotiating several obstacles in our way and using the skies above to navigate in the right direction through the vast grounds, , we were greeted by a fox who had made this hospital its home. The fox, obviously woken from its afternoon nap, came to see what al the noise was and upon seeing us walked back upstairs to doze the rest of the day away as we made our way around the building.
The decay had set in long since with the walls resembling cracked egg shells with layers of peeling paint lending an almost 3d mosaic look to the walls. We found the three - so called - bleeding doors and they do look as if they are actually bleeding as streams of water or other liquid have poured down them over the years of neglect.
being such a huge complex, it was impossible to explore all the buildings which cover such a huge site but 4 hours inside this building was enough as the heavy air filled with the smell of pigeon droppings along with exposed asbestos was enough and the clamour for fresh air was forthcoming.
Cambridge Military Hospital is a Grade II listed building and was built by Messrs Martin Wells and Co. of Aldershot was named after Prince George, Duke of Cambridge and opened on 18 July 1879. In the First World War, Cambridge Hospital was the first base hospital to receive casualties directly from the Western Front. Cambridge Hospital was also the first place where plastic surgery was performed in the British Empire. Captain Gillies (later Sir Harold Gillies), met Hippolyte Morestin, while on leave in Paris in 1915. Morestin was reconstructing faces in the Val-de-Grace Hospital in Paris. Gillies fell in love with the work, and at the end of 1915 was sent back from France to start a Plastic Unit in the Cambridge Hospital.
Along with the main building, other buildings include the Louise Margaret Hospital was finished in 1897 and was the largest family hospital to be erected by the Service. Its function was initially to care for the wives and children of servicemen, a use that continued until 1958 when its function and name changed to a maternity hospital. The water tower was erected in 1896 and Gun Hill House was erected in 1907 and was originally the Siter's quarters. Other buildings include the medical Officer's quarters, dental school, gymnasium, single storey mortuary, administration block, kitchens, the Leishman Labatory built in 1931 along with the Mcgrigor Barracks which were built in 1897.
The two-storey ward blocks are of yellow brick with slate roofs. The wards are six bays long and could each hold 24
beds arranged in pairs between the windows. The wards were originally heated by two stoves, although
central heating was installed in the 1920’s.
After the Second World War, with the decline in importance of Britain's military commitments, civilians were admitted to the hospital. It pioneered the supply of portable operating theatres and supplies for frontline duties. The hospital also contained the Army Chest Unit. It was closed on 2 February 1996 due to the high cost of running the old building as well as the discovery of asbestos in the walls.