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Hospitals and public heath

Hospital records can include administrative records such as minutes and accounts, as well as patient records.

Points to remember:

  • The survival of hospital records is inconsistent and there are often gaps in records.
  • Not all hospital records are listed on our online catalogue yet.
  • Information in hospital records is sensitive and falls under the Data Protection Act. Therefore, access is restricted to some information, particularly in the last 100 years. Please ask staff for advice or check our restricted access guidelines on our policies page for more detail.

Finding and using hospital records

Shropshire and Montgomeryshire Counties and Wenlock Borough Lunatic Asylum at Bicton Heath (later Shelton Hospital)

Shropshire Archives holds records for the Asylum, since its establishment in 1843. There are extensive patient records (although many gaps). Our online catalogue summarizes the patient records held here – follow the links below to specific series of records. The most useful records are:

These provide the most detailed information but they are difficult to search through, particularly as they are huge volumes. There are data protection restrictions so the volumes often can’t be issued for you to browse through.

Finding the patient’s date of admission or number is key to using these records. This information is usually in records such as the:

  • Index of inmates, 1845-1864 (6175/B/1/1)
  • Alphabetical patient indexes, 1931-1965 (9920/1-3)
  • Patient census returns, 1954-1962 (8352/1)

The last two give details of patients who were admitted from 1887, but only if they were still there when the index or census was compiled.

If you know the rough date of admission or death, searching the following will be useful:

There seems to be a gap between 1948 and 1964 but the Continuation Certificate Register, 1948-1983 (6175/B/1/5) is useful for certified patients.

Patients were often categorized so records reflect that. For example in the 19th century, there was a distinction between those who could pay and pauper patients. More recently, patients were divided between voluntary and certified patients.

The death records, including some alphabetically arranged index cards, can also help as they note the patient number and admission date. These records are, however, incomplete.

For further details check:

C21.5 v.f. ‘Shelton past and present’ and ‘Shelton past and present: eight years on’, both by Rosie Morris
q C 21.5 Shelton Hospital 1890 to 1960 by Seager, John Henry Charles (Sussex University dissertation).

Private Asylums

Following Wynne’s Act of 1808, which stated that doctors could certify patients as insane, several private asylums were set up. For example there were asylums in Church Stretton and at Kingsland – where the Lunatic Asylum was attached to Shrewsbury House of Industry (workhouse). Not many records survive although you may find material in our local studies catalogue. Trade directories list the private lunatic asylums.

Hospital records

Shropshire Archives also holds records for a number of individual hospitals. Where the lists are online, a link is given. Otherwise there are printed lists in our search room or please ask staff for details. In some cases, there are patient records, but often the surviving records are purely administrative.

  • Berrington, Cross Houses Hospital, 1926-1988 (P28) and (8145)
  • Bridgnorth Infirmary, 1832 onwards mostly administrative – bound list (B binder 2740)
  • Clun Cottage Hospital (St Catherine’s Hospital), 1901-1925 (P74/J/1)
  • Ellesmere, St George’s Evacuee Hospital, 1941-1949 (PA22)
  • Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital for Shropshire and Mid Wales – please ask staff (8662 and 8680) )
  • Ironbridge, Beeches Hospital, 1926-1984 (PA16)
  • Ludlow Cottage Hospital and East Hamlet Hospital – ask staff for lists (4904)
  • Ludlow Institution, 1930-1980 (PA8)
  • Much Wenlock, Lady Forester Hospital – please ask staff (8145)
  • Oswestry District Hospital – bound list (O binder 5621)
  • Oswestry, Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital – short lists (MI5524)
  • Royal Salop Infirmary – bound lists mostly minutes and administrative material from 1745 (R binder 3909, 5764)
  • Shrewsbury, Royal Shrewsbury Hospital – see records under Royal Salop Infirmary
  • Shifnal Cottage Hospital – please ask staff (9134)
  • Telford Hospital – some material re planning in Telford Development Collection (6235)
  • Wellington Cottage Hospital, 1915-1930 (PA29)

You might find more information on these hospitals – particularly the Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital – in our local studies collection (search the online catalogue). It’s also worth searching the catalogue generally in case there are references in other collections or details about other hospitals.

Charitable foundations

For medieval hospitals, usually run by religious houses and organisations, check the History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 2 (Victoria County History) available at Shropshire Archives or at British History online

Trinity Hospital and Almshouses, Clun

  • The Powis Collection (552) includes nominations to fill vacancies in the hospital, 1724-1914
  • Clun Hospital records – as staff for details (8603 box list available)
  • Deeds of Trinity Hospital, Clun 1613-1625, 1958-1968 – ask staff for details (DA39 06481)

Millingtons hospital

  • Millingtons hospital records – printed list available 2133, 6269
  • Also papers and accounts in the Salt Solicitors Collection (D3651/F/7/3)

Medical Officer of Health Reports

Before 1974, Public Health was the responsibility of local authorities and the County Medical Officer.
Medical Officer of Health reports include including statistics on birth and death, disease, vaccination programmes and general sanitation. These reports can be in

  • Borough, Urban and Rural District Council records (DA – held offsite)
  • County Council records – printed list available or ask staff (SCC1). A good summary of the County Council’s responsibilities is in the Victoria County History vol III
  • Poor Law records – lists for individual Poor Law Unions online (PL)
  • Our local studies collection (search the online catalogue)

Workhouse medical relief

Some of the poor law union collections, especially Ludlow Poor Law Union (PL9), contain workhouse medical relief registers.

Salop Health Authority

The Salop Health Authority 8659 records include records relating to provision of the health service, vaccination, maternity and child welfare. Please ask staff for details.

Other records

C 21.3 The Red Cross in Shropshire; an account of voluntary aid work carried out in Shropshire from January, 1915 to 31st May, 1918.

Find out more

  • Our local studies collection is worth checking for books on various hospitals, annual returns or hospital magazines. Just type key words in to the search box to search the local studies and archive collections.
  • For tips on how to find out about the medical professionals, take a look at our printable short guides page.
  • Archive Zone – our website for schools – includes a section on health and medicine
  • The British Library’s public health timeline and the National Archives’ public health epidemics guide provide useful background on the intervention of local authorities and central government into public health.

Information in other places

The National Archives

The National Archives holds records of the Ministry of Health and related bodies. Their hospitals research guide gives further details.
The National Archives also hosts the National Hospitals database, which was created in partnership with the Wellcome Trust.

The Wellcome Library

The Wellcome Library preserves the record of medicine past and present to foster understanding of medicine, its history and its impact in society. The Library also holds Medical Officer of Health Reports for areas around the UK.

Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

The hospital holds its own collection of records. Their website contains a hospital history.