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Milford Hospital

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What: Tuberculosis sanatorium/geriatric hospital.
Where: Milford, Surrey
Built: 1927-8
Architect: Sydney Tattle
Abandoned: 1997 (partial)
Listed: No
Visited: 2009-14
Last Known Condition: Demolished, 2014. The administration block remains in use as part of a geriatric hospital.
Page Updated: March 2016

The 1911 National Insurance (Treatment of Tuberculosis) Act established a need for Local Authorities to provide treatment for Tuberculosis, a highly infectious disease of the lungs with a dismal 1 in 5 recovery rate, accounting for some 65,000 deaths every year. Responding to the Act, the County of Surrey established a Sanatorium Sub-Committee and purchased 110 acres of land at Tuesley near Godalming at a cost of £8,234. Unfortunately the outbreak of War in July 1914 put a stop to the committee's plans, with all available resources and manpower diverted into the war effort.

Of course, the problem of TB, didn't go away and in fact by 1920 posed an even greater risk to a depleted and war-weakened population. Thus it was that the Sanatorium Sub-Committee reconvened and revived their plans for a purpose-built treatment facility, appointing Sydney Tattle as architect. The building contract was awarded to Chapman, Lowry & Puttick Ltd and the foundation stone was laid in May 1927 by Henry Cubitt, 2nd Baron Ashcombe, then Lord Lieutenant of Surrey.


Central services block (2014)
Central services block

Lonely chair (2014)
Lonely chair

[click images below to expand & enlarge]

Main buildings from the air in 1928 (© Aerofilms) Main entrance (2014) Administration building (2014) Ward pavillion (2009) Ward pavillion (2009) The nurses' home and a section of the covered walkways which linked the buildings on site (2009) A typical attic bedroom in the nurses' home (2014) View from the top of the nurses' home (2014) A good way to advertise that you have no site security (2010) Unmarried staff quarters (2010) Unmarried staff quarters (2014) Central services block (2010) Patients' Bank (2014) Patient Records Computer</sup> (2014) Kitchen corridor (2014) Kitchens (2014) Patients' social centre (2014) Patients' social centre (2014) Corridor (2014) Bedside lamp (2014) Ward corridor (2014) Collapsing day-room (2014) League of Friends Shop (2014) Covered way (2014) Recreation Hall (2014) Occupational Therapy Dep<sup>t</sup> (2014) Staff housing (2014) Superintendent's residence (2009) Water Tower (2010) Tank gauge (2010) Ward pavillion being demolished (2014)

The Surrey County Sanatorium was officially opened on 20th July 1928 by the Rt Hon. Neville Chamberlain, Minister of Health, accompanied by E.J. Holland, Chairman of the County Council and Arthur Spurge, Chairman of the Public Health Committee. The entire hospital had cost £155,000 to build, principally funded from local taxes and rates, although many of the fixtures and furnishings were provided by public subscription or private donations. Dr R.J. Allison was appointed first Medical Superintendent and Miss F.H. Hall the first Matron.

By the 1930s, Milford was achieving excellent results in treating Tuberculosis with medication, fresh air, good nourishment and progressive exercise. Wards were light and airy and faced onto landscaped grounds with ornamental planting and specimen trees to make the patients' stay as pleasant as possible.

Another reason for the success of Milford was the programme of rehabilitation and occupational therapy prescribed after primary treatment: horticultural and agricultural training were given on the hospital estate which included a 2½ acre orchard, piggeries and market gardens providing food for the hospital kitchens. By gradually increasing the amount of work given to recovering patients, their strength was slowly regained and they were able in most cases to resume productive employment.

In 1938, a small operating theatre was added; at this time pulmonary surgery was in its infancy, but by 1940, important advances had been made in thoracic surgery, which, assisted by radiology, helped reduce infection and repair lung damage.

The hospital was one of the first to have bedside radio receivers, a real boon to bedridden patients. In the late 1940s two young patients, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson established a hospital radio station 'in a laundry cupboard in F Ward', writing short comedy scripts which they then performed on the air. The duo would later become famous for well-loved BBC programmes such as Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe and Son.

After the war indicence of TB declined significantly with improvements in public health: Universal BCG immunisation was introduced in 1953 and by the 1960's Rifampicin and other anti-TB drugs meant treatment could usually be carried out without resorting to invasive surgery. In the 1960s, the hospital was renamed Milford Chest Hospital and widened its focus to include other pulmonary and thoracic conditions such as obstructive lung disease and cancer as TB became increasingly rare. In January 1980, the Hospital's Department of Thoracic Surgery was transferred to the Royal Surrey County Hospital at Guildford and in 1985, the hospital was redesignated as a geriatric hospital: the existing buildings were refurbished and new wards replaced two of the original hospital wings to the northeast. A programme of downsizing in the 1990s saw the older wards, water tower, recreation facilities, kitchens and staff housing declared surplus to requirements and they have been standing empty ever since.

The hospital faced repeated threats of closure throughout the 2000s, but was saved in 2010 when it was announced that it would become a centre of excellence for geriatrics and stroke rehabilitation. In 2014, work began on demolishing the derelict 1920s buildings to make way for a development of 120 new homes.


Osborne, P., 1998, 'Milford Sanatorium, Godalming, Surrey' [https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/42366842/Milford/Milford/History.html] Accessed 29/6/14
'Milford Hospital saved as Cranleigh beds are shut', Surrey Advertiser, January 15th, 2010 [http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/local-news/milford-hospital-saved-cranleigh-beds-4821300] Accessed 29/6/14


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