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Remembered Today:

2nd Western General Hospital Manchester

Guest Simon Lazenby

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Guest Simon Lazenby

Hi all, can anyone tell me if records exist for the General Hospital in Manchester?

I have a postcard from my Grandfather dated Oct 1917 from the hospital but would like to find out how he got there and what happened after.

He enlisted in 1915 with 20th KRRC but died in May 1918 with 2nd Wilts.



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The 2nd Western General Hospital was housed in a Municipal Secondary School in (must check) Leicester Road, Manchester, and described by one of the nurses, Ada Dodman, as "a huge building". The assembly hall became the largest ward, where there was a platform and piano, at which Nurse Dodman often gave the wounded Tommies a tune, and on such occassions they would ask for "something with a chorus" so they could all join in. This was probably new ground for Ada, who was a classically traihned violinist who had been a student of the Royal College of Music. By summer 1915, the platform staged weekly concerts by artitstes from the Palace Theatre.

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Guest Simon Lazenby

Thanks for the information, I can probably help confirm that it was Leicester Road as the postcard I have has a handwritten address of 'Broughton, Manchester' on it.

Is there any more information on the hospital available?



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Hi Simon

The 2nd West General Hospital had Sections all over Manchester:-

Other Rank. OR, Officers Off.

1. Alexandra Park 216 beds OR, School premises.

2. Alfred Street 214 beds OR, S/P.

3. Alma Park 173 beds OR, S/P.

4. Bank Meadow 200 beds OR, S/P.

5. Clyne House 101 beds OR, S/P.

6. Ducie Avenue 240 beds OR, S/P 88 beds for jaw cases.

7. Grange Street 156 beds OR, S/P.

8. Grecian Street 178 beds OR, S/P.

9. Greek Street 160 beds OR, S/P.

10. Heald Place 172 beds OR, S/P.

11. High Street. 170 beds Off, S/P.

12. Hollywood Park 120 beds OR, S/P.

13. Langworthy Road 154 beds OR, S/P.

14. Leaf Square 200 beds OR, S/P.

15. Leicester Road 150 beds OR, S/P.

16. Lily Lane 216 beds OR, S/P.

17. Mosley Road 155 beds OR, S/P.

18. New Bridge Street 578 beds OR, Poor Law, Venereal Hospital.

19. North Reddish 180 beds OR, S/P.

20. St George's 166 beds OR, S/P.

21. Seymour Park 140 beds OR, S/P.

22. Tootal Road 240 beds OR, S/P.

23. Vernon Park 170 beds OR, S/P.

24. Stockport Town Hall 130 beds OR, Civil Building.

The 2nd West General Hospital Central hospital 263 Off beds.

The Sections in total had 16,838 OR beds & 182 Off beds within the Manchester area.

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However, the main hospital building which is always described as being on Whitworth Street (or nearby), in the city centre, seems impossible to track down.

SueL and I have been trying for ages to sort this one without success.

Many of the Sections listed above by Roy will have been more generally known by their original names (for example - "Greek Street" is bound to be Stockport Infirmary)


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Guest Simon Lazenby

Thanks All for the help, I can now place him at 'Grecian Street' as I understand what the writing on the card says.

If anyone is interested in postcards I can always send a copy on, it's a 'Quick, give me some news from you' card.

Is there anything left of the Grecian St section?


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I'm not familiar with the particular area to know what's there, but the only likely building coming up in a Google is the Grecian Street Primary School. I know schools were often converted into hospitals - but I'm afraid I've no idea if this building is of the right period.


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I have a postcard sent by my great uncle from the military hospital at Weaste, Manchester.

Any ideas where this was please?

I just looked at the postcard again - it's Tootal Road

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Hi Bernard

Brook House Hospital Levenshulme 102 beds other ranks, this was affiliated to two other central hospitals.

Manchester had 23 other Hospitals as well as the 2nd West General Hospital.

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Hi John

Greek Street was a School premises not stockport infirmary.

This Info come's from the list of the various hospitals treating military cases in the UK 1917.

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Hi John

Greek Street was a School premises not stockport infirmary.


Any idea exactly where? It's just that I can only think of what would have been the Technical School (and I thought that continued as a School during the war)


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stockport grammar school was on the site where stockport war memorial and art college stands,that was the hospital,bernard

ps there a picture of it,the tech college was next door

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Guest Simon Lazenby

John, Bernard

Thanks for your info' do any records exist for the hospitals? Would they be at the NA?

Any ideas otherwise?

Thanks again,


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Almost all medical records have been destroyed. The surviving records can be found in the record class "MH 106" at the NA.

The records in "MH 106" are ok if you know where the soldier was wounded and where he was hospitalised or treated.


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Guest Simon Lazenby

Thanks Roy

Will the fact that I know the Hospital and section along with his number etc be sufficient to find anythng if it still survives?

I can also narrow it down to Oct '17 as well.


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Unless you grandfather was in one of a very few units, I think you best/only chance of finding out about his medical history is through his service record, if one survives for him.

MH106 is unlikely to help with all but a few military hospitals, but some time ago I wrote a brief summary of what's contained in it, and I've copied it below. It's not a complete run down of what's in the class - that can be found by browsing the National Archives Catalogue - but it does give some idea of whether there's much chance of finding information on a specific man/woman.


MH106 The National Archives

Just a representative selection of these records remain at the National Archives in Class MH 106. Although a tiny percentage of the records, obviously someone might end up being lucky. There are admission and discharge registers for six general hospitals, a stationary hospital, six casualty clearing stations, five Field Ambulances, an ambulance train, one hospital ship [the ‘Assaye’], and ten hospitals in the UK. The records are not complete for most of the above, and some cover a very short time span.

There are also some medical records relating to 5 regiments/units – the Leicestershire Regiment, Grenadier Guards, Royal Flying Corps, Royal Field Artillery, and Hussars. I recently looked at some of the medical cards for men of the Leicestershire Regiment – just out of interest, I had no special reason for a search. They are octavo size, and come several hundred to a box – there are several boxes for each unit. The ones I looked at were filed in order of regimental number, but there were a lot of misfiles. A card was raised at the time of injury or illness, and as some men had more than one card, it seems likely that a new card was raised for each episode. The name of the hospital of admission is written at the top of each card. They contain a good amount of detail as to age, length of service, date of illness/wounding, diagnosis, any surgical treatment, date and time of death, if applicable. For a man evacuated back to the UK, a separate card exists for his admission to the home hospital, or transfer thereafter.

I realise from some of the posts on the forum, how desperate people can be to track wounded men down. I would say that if your man is from one of the above units, and was wounded/ill during service, there is a good chance that a card might exist for him. However, they are not indexed, and it would be extremely difficult to judge which box of cards you would need to look at – if his number was very low, it might be easier. Unless luck was on your side, it could be a very long search indeed – a day or so looking for one card might not be unreasonable. Personally, if my grandfather or uncle had been in one of the above units, I would consider it time well spent. But I have no clue how complete these remaining records are, and presumably a search would need to be judged by a percentage chance of success.


The following units are those for which Admission and Discharge registers survive at the National Archives in MH106. In total there are 2078 of these registers, and the number includes some operation books, and miscellaneous registers. These registers cover units in most theatres – Western Front, Egypt, Salonika, Serbia and Russia [1919]; some are complete, while some are for specific dates only, and as the units moved around some have records for more than one location. One of the most complete, No. 3 Casualty Clearing Station has a total of 153 registers, covering the period from September 23rd 1914 until 6th December 1918. Most units held separate registers for different nationalities, and in most cases British troops will not be combined with those, say, from Canada or India. Details of officers and women are normally held in different registers from other ranks. The registers for hospitals in the UK, i.e. Napsbury, Millbank, Craiglockhart, Catterick, are kept both in date order, and separately for each theatre of war in which the men had served prior to admission.

14th Field Ambulance

51st Field Ambulance

66th Field Ambulance

139th Field Ambulance

149th Field Ambulance

No.3 Casualty Clearing Station

No.11 Casualty Clearing Station

No.31 Casualty Clearing Station

No.34 Combined Casualty Clearing Station

No.39 Casualty Clearing Station

No.82 Casualty Clearing Station

Bakharitza Detention Hospital

No.2 General Hospital

No.18 General Hospital

No.19 General Hospital

No.28 General Hospital

No.85 General Hospital

No.4 Stationary Hospital

County of Middlesex War Hospital, Napsbury

Queen Alexandra Military Hospital, Millbank

Mrs. Mitchison’s Hospital for Officers

Catterick Military Hospital

Craiglockhart Hospital, Edinburgh

Eccles Auxiliary Hospital

Bowhill Auxiliary Hospital, Selkirk [Officers]

Lennel Auxiliary Hospital [Officers]

Coldstream Mains [Officers]

Craiglea Annexe, Edinburgh [Officers]

H.M. Hospital Ship ‘Assaye’

No.31 Ambulance Train

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No - not even an acknowledgment. The third request did make it clear that I was quite happy to go up there if they thought it might be worthwhile, but eventually, with my deadline long past, I was content to let it fade away. Research into other Territorial Hospitals shows that there is very likely to be mention of exact locations of the original buildings in newspapers between August 5th - 31st - name of schools etc. And I still wouldn't completely rule out the Whitworth Street in Openshaw.

And just to say what a different reaction I got by asking exactly the same question of the Central Library in Aberdeen. Within a week I had copies of newspaper reports, Council minutes; a report by the headmistress of the High School; contemporary street maps and pages from local directories. It was all researched and sent free of charge, and when I sent them money anyway, they returned my cheque saying that it was much too much - I think we agreed on about £4 eventually!


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Guest Simon Lazenby


Thanks so much for the information that you provided. At least No2 General hospital gets a mention.

We new so little about my Grandfather originally as my Father never new him, there were only the medals and numbers to go on, I had written to the CWGC years ago and through contacts got the extract from SDGW but that was it until I stumbled onto this site following a link from the BBC website.

So much knowledge and information has been passed to me from people such as yourself that it has really helped to fill in a lot of the puzzles.

I have a much better picture now of his service but will continue to try to narrow down the search before I ask if anyone can look at Kew for me as this is such a big request of anyone anyway.

Thanks again for your information,



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On May 16th 1917 the King and Queen visited Manchester and Salford and visited various hospital installations. After a visit to the City Market Hall the King & Queen drove in an open carriage to 2nd Western General Hospital, Whitworth Street being greetedby the high & mighty before touring the wards and moving on to London Road Station. Given that the longer journeys around Manchester were made by car as opposed to open carriage I guess the Whitworth Street in question was central and not in Openshaw.


The mod website has the following at



A Short History of the Volunteer Medical Service in Manchester and it’s Personnel

On 23rd June 1898 Queen Victoria signed the royal warrant signifying her pleasure that a ‘Corps was formed styled the Royal Army Medical Corps’ and on the 1st July 1898 the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) came into existence. More than ten prior to this a young London Graduate, Dr William Coates, arrived in Manchester to set up a practise in Moss Side. He was to spend the next 78 years, until his death at the age of 102 in 1962, working and living in the Moss Side area. The place of his death, now a block of flats, being named after him (Coates court, Moss Side). The importance of his work in the provision of medical care to the men and women of the armed forces in the North West has, over the years, has been greatly forgotten. Without his hard work and dedication it is unlikely the ex-servicemen of today would have the care and attention they presently receive at Broughton House, the last remaining of three homes set-up during the First World War for the care of disabled ex-servicemen.

On his arrival in Manchester William Coates met Dr H.B. Crockwell, at that time second Surgeon in the 16th Lancashire Rifle Volunteers (later the 7th Battalion the Manchester Regiment (TA)) who persuaded him to join the Volunteers.

Coates became commissioned in the 20th Lancashire Rifle Volunteers (later the 8th (Ardwick) Battalion the Manchester Regiment (TA)).

Surgeon Major Evatt (originator of the Volunteer Medical Staff Corps) and Colonel Cantlie (commanding the London Volunteer Medical Staff Corps) communicated with the Dean of Owens College with a view to establishing a Company in Manchester.

Major Evatt addressed a meeting of students and Volunteer Medical Association was formed in December 1885, composed of various professors and lecturers at Owens College and certain influential Manchester gentlemen.

Surgeon Captains Corckwell, Darwin and Coates transferred from the Volunteers Infantry Units and Mr H. Crossley Rayner, a barrister, became the Quartermaster.

After inspection by the Manchester Brigade Commander, the Unit was taken over by the War Office on 1st April 1887, (strength 101) as the 4th Division, Volunteer Medical Staff Corps.

In 1897 William Coates was gazetted to Command, which on take-over had strength of 9 officers, 157 rank and file.

In 1898 the Volunteer Medical Staff Corps became A Corps Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) and the prefix Surgeon was dropped from the Officers’ commissions.

A new Headquarters was opened on January 18th 1905 by General Sir Henry MacKinnon, Director General of the Auxiliary Forces, and was designed for a complement of 1000.

By 1908 the RAMC in the East Lancashire Division had been organised into:

1st (East Lancashire) Field Ambulance

2nd (East Lancashire) Field Ambulance

3rd (East Lancashire) Field Ambulance

General Hospital (Second Western)

In 1914 the 2nd Western General Hospital had a strength of 3 officers and 43 rank and file. In addition it had 20 ‘a la suite’ specialists who were mobilised.

Taking over buildings, it provided a 500 bed hospital and was ready to admit patients from 16th August 1914.

On 20th September 1914 the first ambulance train arrived and the hospital was treating casualties until long after the end of the war. The nursing staff was organised by the Principal Matron of the Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI). Local hospitals in the East Lancashire area, from Bury to Chester, gave over beds for use by the military. Over half the beds of the MRI were filled by casualties from the war and St. Mary’s nearly closed to the civilian population due to the demands of the military. By 1918 over 25,000 beds came under the command of the 2nd Western General Hospital and more than 500,000 casualties had been treated.

Following the war the Territorial Force was put into suspended animation. It was, however, reorganised in 1920 and the Manchester Hospital became the 2nd Western General Hospital Territorial Army (TA).

In 1927 the Hospital became the 12th (2nd Western) General Hospital TA.

In 1938 the 5th (Western) General Hospital was also established.

The 12th (2nd Western) General Hospital TA mobilised at Ormskirk and eventually went to Egypt and became 61st General Hospital.

The 5th (Western) General Hospital TA went to Davyhulme and in 1940 became Military Hospital Davyhulme and it is this Unit which is really the predecessor of the 7th (Manchester) General Hospital.

Colonel Sir William Coates came to see the Units move off to war (then aged 79) and was there to welcome them back at the end.

In 1947 the Territorial Army was reformed. In 1953 the hospital was honoured by the City of Manchester and became the 7th (Manchester) General Hospital (TA).

In Manchester the Field Ambulances and the Divisional Medical Headquarters were disbanded leaving only the Hospital.

Now designated 207 (Manchester) General Hospital RAMC (Volunteers) it remained in this drill hall as designed and build for the RAMC and is therefore one of the oldest Units in the Corps. The officer’s mess, which is argued to be the oldest in the RAMC, bears the name of William Coates who did so much in the early part of the 20th century for the provision of medical care to military personnel.

In 1967 a detachment was formed in Blackburn, a second was formed in Macclesfield in 1977 and a third in Lancaster in 1981. During the ‘options for change’ reorganisation in the mid 1990s the Macclesfield and Lancaster detachments closed and the Hospital gained a new detachment in Ashton-under-Lyne (a former detachment of the Fusiliers (Volunteers)). The hospital reduced in size and dropped the RAMC from its title to become 207 (Manchester) Field Hospital (Volunteers).

The hospital still plays its part within the role of the Army Medical Services. With personnel serving in the Gulf War, Northern Ireland, the former Republic Yugoslavia (one member receiving the Queen’s Commendation Medal). At present members of the hospital are serving in Bosnia and Cyprus with one member serving some where in the world but we are never quit sure where until we get a post card!


Miss M.E. Sparshott CBE RRC

The First Matron of 2nd Western General Hospital

In 1907 Miss Margaret Elwyn Sparshott was brought to Manchester by her appointment to the post of Lady Superintendent of Nurses at the Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI), she was 37. For the next twenty-two years she was actively involved in the promotion of nursing as a profession, and in the formation of the Royal Collage of Nursing, as well as being the Principal Matron of the local Territorial Reserve Forces Military Hospital.

As early as 1910 war clouds were in the air and the War Office asked if, in the event of war, a reserve of 15 nurses could be spared from the MRI staff. It was decided to start a scheme of registration of nurses completing their training that would be suitable and willing to serve.

Miss Sparshott's administrative ability and the energy and skill of her nursing staff were stretched to the utmost during the war years. Early in October 1914, 250 beds were provided at the MRI for military patients and were immediately occupied by wounded soldiers. The accommodation was extended as necessity arose until 520 out of a total of 884 beds were reserved for military cases.

At the end of 1914 the MRI Committee placed on record its appreciation of the cheerful and willing manner in which the staff of the hospital of all ranks had carried out the considerable amount of extra duty caused by the establishment of 208 beds for military patients.

Miss Sparshott had other duties for she was Principal Matron of the military hospital in Whitworth Street, known as the 2nd Western General Hospital [1], which became the base of twenty‑two auxiliary hospitals in Manchester, Salford and Stockport all working in unison under the guidance of Miss Sparshott. There were 3,800 beds and 630 Sisters and Nurses at the disposal of the military authorities. Many of them had been trained in the wards of the MRI, and all the time she was sending nurses to Army and Naval hospitals at home and abroad.

2nd Western General Hospital was formed in 1908, with Miss Sparshott as the organising Matron, it quickly enrolled its full compliment of sisters and nurses. During the war the sick and wounded dealt with by 2nd Western General Hospital and its auxiliary hospitals was larger than any other general hospital in the country, a record in considerable measure due to the efficient administration of Miss Sparshott.

The Royal recognition of her work, first with the Royal Red Cross (RRC), and at the end of the war the CBE was richly earned. The Matron at

Whitworth Street

, Miss Woodhouse also received the RRC, and more than fifty sisters and nurses trained at Infirmary received the associate RRC (ARRC). Several were mentioned in dispatches and Sister Sloane was presented by the President of the French Republic with a medal in silver gilt.

In 1915 the Hon. Arthur Stanley MVO MP, Chairman of the Joint War Committee of the British Red Cross Society, asked the MRI Board to approve the broad outlines of a scheme having as its object the co-operation of training schools for nurses. Also for the institution of a College of Nursing with its Council of Management and Examination Board. The Committee approved, but in view of present circumstances thought the matter should be deferred. Miss Sparshott now took a hand in things. Six months later she approached the Chairman of the Board (Sir William Cobbett) and they wrote to the Hon. Arthur Stanley suggesting that a meeting should be arranged at the infirmary. It took place on 28th July 1916, in the MRI Out-Patients’ Department. Six hundred people attended. A Bill was to be presented to Parliament to promote the foundation of the College [2]. In June 1918 Miss Sparshott presided over a meeting of eighty Matrons, all members of the College, to discuss the State Registration of nurses.

In 1923 Miss Sparshott was returned top of the poll at the election of the Council of the College of Nursing. The MRI Board congratulated her but there was a difficulty. Sir Arthur Stanley (Chairman of the College of Nursing) asked permission for her to attend. Meetings were held on three Tuesdays and one Friday each month. This called for very careful consideration as to whether the Matron could be spared for so many days from Manchester. In the end it was cautiously agreed to give her the necessary permission for six months. The hospital did not fall down and subsequently permission was extended annually.

Miss Sparshott resigned as Lady Superintendent of Nurses in 1929, she was 59, and was given a pension of £300 per annum. At the same time she resigned her post as Principal Matron of the Territorial Army Nursing Services for the 2nd Western General Hospital. She retired to her home in Penge, near London, and died on 9th October 1940 at the age of 70.

Extracts for ‘The history of nursing at the MRI 1752 – 1929’

By William Brockbank.

1. During the First World War 2nd Western General Hospital had, at one point, 2500 beds and treated approximately half a million casualties. It was the first military hospital to be based in Manchester to which 207 Field Hospital (V) can trace it’s origins.

2. State registration of nurses became law in December 1919. In 1928 the College of Nursing Ltd received its Royal Charter and became The Royal College of Nursing (RCN). The First name to appear on the Register was that of Mrs Gordon Fenwick who had campaign long and hard for the RCN and state registration. (Incidentally Mrs Fenwick trained at the MRI).

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