The hospital was given the name Palmer Memorial Hospital it opened its doors in the December of 1870. Running cost was met from the worker’s contributions and an annual grant from Palmer its-self. The staff included a full-time doctor, matron, and nurses. The hospital was a much-needed improvement.
The establishment of Palmer Memorial Hospital in December 1870 marked a significant improvement in the provision of medical care for the workers in Jarrow. Prior to the hospital’s opening, injured individuals had to endure a perilous journey by horse and cart to the Newcastle Infirmary, which often resulted in tragic outcomes, as many could not survive the arduous trip
Charles Palmer, deeply concerned for the well-being of the workers, took his late wife Jane’s expressed worries to heart. Recognizing the urgent need for a local medical facility, he deemed the construction of the hospital a fitting tribute to her memory. The hospital was named Palmer Memorial Hospital, and its operating expenses were covered by contributions from the workers themselves, supplemented by an annual grant from Charles Palmer himself.
The hospital boasted a dedicated team of medical professionals, including a full-time doctor, matron, and nurses. This staffing ensured that the injured workers received prompt and attentive care, a vast improvement compared to the previously perilous transportation to Newcastle.
During that era, safety measures such as nets, hard hats, and other protective equipment commonly found in modern shipyards were unheard of. As a result, accidents at the shipyard and steelworks posed significant risks to the lives of both men and boys employed there.
Tragically, fatalities were not uncommon. For instance, a devastating incident claimed the life of a 14-year-old boy who became entangled with a machine. Additionally, a 38-year-old man lost his life when he was struck by a train while crossing the company railway line. These incidents serve as poignant reminders of the dangers faced by workers in an era without the safety advancements we enjoy today.
The shipyard in Jarrow attracted a significant number of Irish workers who left their homeland in search of employment opportunities. Over time, this influx of Irish workers, along with Scottish immigrants, formed a vibrant and diverse community in Jarrow, contributing greatly to the town’s future development and way of life.
While originally established to cater to the needs of the workers and their families, Palmer Memorial Hospital gradually expanded its services to benefit all residents of the town. By the late 1880s, an extension known as the Jubilee Wing was added to the existing hospital, further enhancing its facilities and capacity.
Sir Charles Palmer, the visionary behind the hospital, passed away on June 4, 1907. A statue erected in his honor on the hospital grounds in 1904 commemorated his significant contributions. Despite his demise, the company continued to invest in the town’s hospital, demonstrating a commitment to the welfare of the community.
In December 1920, Sir Alfred Molyneux Palmer inaugurated a new outpatient department, reaffirming the Palmer family’s dedication to the hospital’s ongoing development. However, with the collapse of the company in 1933, the responsibility for maintaining the hospital fell to the town council.
Having served the community for over a century, the hospital faced challenges in keeping up with the evolving healthcare needs and standards. As time progressed, it became increasingly impractical to continue operating the original facility. Ultimately, in November 1983, the closure of the hospital signaled its own demise, and later on, the building was demolished.
Presently, a modern hospital stands proudly on the same site where Palmer Memorial Hospital once stood. This new healthcare facility serves the community, providing improved and up-to-date medical services to meet the needs of the residents of Jarrow. It stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of Sir Charles Mark Palmer and his commitment to the well-being of the town and its people.
The renewed iteration of the Palmer Community Hospital, a symbol of progress and continuity, was finalized in 1987. The momentous occasion of its inauguration was graced by the presence of Her Royal Highness, Princess Royal, who officially opened the hospital. This significant event underscored the importance of the hospital in providing essential healthcare services to the community and marked a new chapter in the town’s healthcare journey. With the support and patronage of esteemed individuals like Princess Royal, the Palmer Community Hospital continued to uphold its commitment to serving the medical needs of the people with modern facilities and compassionate care.
The hospital is still owned by the South Tyneside And Sunderland Health Authority. The picture shows what the new building looks like today. You can see in the distance on the left of the photo the original house that was attached to the old Palmer Hospital.
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