The history of Bristol General dates back to 1832.  The lack of any health care in the growing industrial areas of Bedminster and Redclife became a concern of a local group of quakers. The Bristol General Hospital in its first incarnation, based on guinea street, provided treatment only to locals in the nearest vicinity.

The introduction of the hospital was something of a ground breaking move at a time when Bristol was still a rapidly developing and changing city.  While the rich lived up in the posh areas of Clifton & Redland the working/industrial persons had previously had no access to doctors or hospitals.  The Bristol Riots of 1831 had provoked the demand for a better way of life. This era of massive social change was epitomised with the founding of the general hospital.

The success of the early hospital brought with it the demand for a bigger hospital.  In 1853 the current hospital was built.

The original building had two four story blocks joined by a central tower. It featured Italianate stonework and French renaissance rooftops.  Further additions were added in 1873 and 1890.

Additional building works were carried out in the 1930s and are generally deemed to be of poor design and not fitting in with the characteristics of the original buiding.

Since the 1930’s the buildings have had all sorts of modifications, additions and it’s the original design is almost lost amongst them all.  Additional to modifications the building also suffered from extensive damage in the second world war and a number of wards are simply left as a bare shell as a result. The most telling loss of the war time era is the mansard roof that lined the Cumberland basin side of the building.

The hospital was originally scheduled to close in the mid 2000’s but the sudden closure of Barrow Hospital resulted in a extended lifespan and despite dates being set to close in both 2008 and 2009 it wasn’t till 2011 before the hospital was sold off by the NHS. It closed its door to patients for the final time in April 2012


  • Ed, February 17, 2014 @ 15:15

    Wow, brilliant. A great document. Over 150 years is not a bad innings for a hospital. I doubt the new build at Southmead will last half that time!

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