Memory lane leads to Banbridge Hospital

Banbridge Hospital
Banbridge Hospital

Many precious lives began and many precious lives ended in this building, and as Banbridge Historical Society recently paid tribute to the staff of the old Banbridge District Hospital, many poignant memories have been rekindled.

Now completely demolished the hospital, which played so central a role serving the Banbridge community, closed its doors 20 years ago, but it still lives on in the minds of many who had a connection with it.

On its social media page, Banbridge Historical Society said of the hospital: “One thing remained the same - the dedication of the staff, from the doctors, nurses, auxiliaries, office staff, kitchen staff, laundry staff and the gardeners.

“How could we forget the beautiful pathways, flowers and little ponds perfect for a walk around on a good day.

“Unfortunately this most unique hospital was closed in 1995.”

Richard Parkes worked as a cleaner there in 1994. He said: “I cleaned it so well they had to knock it down!”

Jennifer Nelson paid tribute to the girls in the laundry department. “I worked in it for 12 years and met my best friend there,” she said, while Bill McCracken said his father Sam also worked there.

Bertha Gray worked in Spelga House and said: “The memories are second to none”. Joanne Boyd said: “I have great memories working here,” and Susan Mathews said: “I did part of my Nursing Training here. Memories...so, so many.”

Maternity was one of the first departments to close, ‘a very sad day,’ said one comment.

Geoffrey Johnston said: “I remember round at a side window seeing my younger brothers for the first time. I remember when the hospital was going to close my mum was interviewed and was on TV as a patient. Everyone was very upset. Should never have been closed.”

Hazel Greenaway said: “I had my five children here. Great nurses and Dr Miller,”

Iris Ford said: “My children were all born there in the 80’s - it was second to none.”

Colin David McComb was the last of his family to be born in there in 1987, while Bronco Savage said: “Where I was born - nurse Lilly Clements delivered me. A great hospital, great doctors and nurses”.

And the hospital witnessed the full spectrum of life, from the joy of birth to the grief of death.

Fred Hamilton said: “I was born there in 1948. My mum died there, as did my sister,” and Eileen Rose Towle said: “The last time I seen my beautiful mother Rosie Cairns was in this hospital in 1960. RIP mum.”

In spite of her many traumas Ruth Tyndall still has a good word of the hospital. “Was there as a child with broken leg, broken ankle, broken arm, and my appendix taken out - all good memories,” while Michael Doherty recalled: “My fondest memory of this great hospital was coming down the long tiled corridor from the rear entrance and smelling the wonderful hospital disinfectant - ah great days!”