Hartlepool hospital was much-loved years after it closed

Mary Timlin, Iris Haller and Margaret Brownless reflect on some old photographs of St Hilda's.
Mary Timlin, Iris Haller and Margaret Brownless reflect on some old photographs of St Hilda's.

Gone but never forgotten.

That’s the Hartlepool hospital which stayed dear in people’s hearts years after it closed.

St Hilda's Hospital.

St Hilda's Hospital.

A reunion party was held in 1994 and staff turned out in their hundreds to show just how much St Hilda’s Hospital was loved.

That’s a full ten years after the closure of the building on the Headland and yet, 400 former workers came along to the get-together in the Borough Hall.

It was invitation only but they still travelled from far and wide to be there.

There was Audrey Woore who used to be the assistant matron, and travelled from Tayside to spend the weekend in Hartlepool.

Friends have taken me to the site where the old St Hilda’s Hospital used to be and I must admit that I sobbed when I saw it. That place has so many happy memories for me

Dorothy Storey, 1994

There was Dorothy Storey, formerly Whitwell, who started her training in 1947, worked her way up to theatre sister and was known to many as Whittie.

After Camerons, she continued her nursing career in Lincoln where she retired in 1986.

She said, back at the time of a Hartlepool Mail story in 1994: “Friends have taken me to the site where the old St Hilda’s Hospital used to be and I must admit that I sobbed when I saw it. That place has so many happy memories for me.”

Pat Hart, another former worker, also spoke to the Mail in 1994 and remembered the days when she lived down the road from the hospital and got £11 a month to pay for her board and lodge.

Others at the reunion included Mary Timlin, Iris Haller, Elsie Storm and Margaret Brownless.

There was a whole raft of ambulance workers and many more besides.

St Hilda’s was formed on the site the old Friarage Manor House which was the workhouse from the late 1770s.

By 1967, it was known as St Hilda’s and remained in the town until 1984 when it closed.

Three years after that, the hospital was in the spotlight again but this time, it was a discussion about its possible demolition.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s development control sub-committee passed plans to flatten the unlisted buildings in the Headland complex.

But councillors were told at the time that the friarage behind the 1930s hospital, as a grade two listed building, should be left untouched.

This building, probably the oldest non-religious structure in the Hartlepool borough, is believed to have been built with the limestone remains of a 13th century friary.

Did you work at the hospital and what are your memories of it.

Which department of St Hilda’s did you work in and can you remember your workmates.

Did you love the job and which part of the work did you enjoy the most?

Or is there another aspect of Hartlepool and East Durham nostalgia which you would like to share with us, perhaps your memories of a favourite shop, pub, or workplace.

Get in touch with your memories by emailing chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk