‘The town has one of the finest hospitals in the country,’ enthused an Examiner reporter 50 years ago today.
The unnamed journalist was right to be excited about the first transfer of patients to a brand new Huddersfield Royal Infirmary on September 22, 1966.
It had been a 15-year slog as Huddersfield’s old hospital at Portland Place became increasingly unfit for purpose.
There was terrible overcrowding in the wards as doctors and nurses soldiered on in ‘nigh-impossible conditions.’
The town’s need for a spacious, modern hospital had been discussed in Parliament and, finally, it was ready.
At 8am, the first of 117 patients were transferred from Portland Place to the new Lindley hospital.
The transfer was facilitated by six Civil Defence workers equipped with a radio link between the two hospitals.
By 10.30am, all but four patients had been taken to the hospital, on the former site of Green Lea Nursing Home.
And the new £5.5m – £96m in today’s money – Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (HRI) did not disappoint.
“One can sense the feeling of relief,” the Examiner correspondent was happy to report.
“The new Royal Infirmary has, to say the least, had its teething troubles, but now, after 15 long years of talking, questions in Parliament and buildings, the saga is over and the town has one of the finest hospitals in the country.”
The 500-bed hospital – double the capacity of the old infirmary – had ‘the very latest in surgical aids and techniques.’
It had five operating theatres, a maternity unit and visitor facilities together with a radio and phone for each inpatient.
The new HRI had a “brighter, lighter and much more cheerful atmosphere,” the Examiner reported.
It said: “When they (patients) look through the windows they will see green fields and Castle Hill, not the industrial centre of the town, with its mill chimneys and soot-grimed buildings.”
The report concluded: “No effort or cost has been spared to make this a hospital in which doctors and nurses will enjoy working and where patients will be able to relax in the satisfaction of knowing that they are receiving the best attention that money can buy.”
Prime Minister and Huddersfield’s number one son, Harold Wilson, officially opened the hospital on 1967.
Princess Diana visited HRI in June 1987.