AT our February meeting we welcomed our speaker Don Valentine.
Don gave a very informative illustrated talk on the History of the St Helen’s Hospital. Don worked there for 18 years as an administrator, and he was the last administrator solely in charge of the hospital until its closure in 1994.
St Helen’s Hospital opened in 1837. Before the NHS arrived in 1948, poor people who could not look after themselves ended up in a Victorian institution called a workhouse.
Paupers did unpaid work in return for food and shelter. Able-bodied men pounded stones into powder, chopped wood into kindling and corn grinding.
The parish of Oare was given the responsibilty for burying the dead from the workhouse. A new cemetery opened on the western side of Winchelsea Road in 1855 and was closed in 1909.
After closure the dead were buried in the Borough cemetery. Births and marriages were recorded in the old Oare Church closed in 1869.
A Victorian workhouse stood in Frederick Road, Hastings. Workhouses were renamed Public Assistance Institutions in 1929 and the Hastings Workhouse was renamed the Municipal Hospital.
In 1948 it became St Helen’s Hospital from the parish where it stood. Today only two of the hospital main entrance gate pillars, and the eastern block of the hospital remain. It is now a listed building. Vote of thanks was given by our chairman.
After tea we had our AGM. Our next meeting is on March 19 when we will have a Beetle Drive with prizes. We shall also have a grocery and homemade stalls.
We meet on the third Wednesday of each month from 2pm to 4pm at the Friends Meeting House, South Terrace, Hastings.
New members are always welcomed.
All enquiries ring 01424 717709.