Essex County Hospital artefacts sought for history harvest at Open Day

  • Date

    Thu 21 Jun 18

Essex County Hospital

Anyone with artefacts connected to Essex County Hospital is being urged to bring them along to an open day later this month when former staff and patients will get the final chance to tour the Lexden Road building.

The hospital, which has served the community for over 200 years, is due to finally close to patients in September when services move to Colchester General Hospital.

The Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Essex have been working together for several months to ensure the history and artefacts of the hospital are preserved. Students from the University have built a website, complete with over 500 photographs and newspaper cuttings covering every aspect of hospital life, from staff and the equipment they used, to plans of the buildings, patients and special events.

Dr Alix Green, from the Department of History, supervised the students. She explained: “The hospital was an integral part of the town, most people living and working in Colchester will have been there at some point in their lives.

“The students have done a fantastic job of cataloguing the history, using material collected over the years by hospital staff and the Colchester Medical Society. But we know individuals will have photos, objects and memories, which we are keen to capture for a growing community digital archive.We’d love people to have a look in their lots, wardrobes and photo albums to see what they may have stored away that could be shared with the community to help the story of ECH. We’re hoping to see object after object bringing back a host of memories and meanings. Please do come to find University staff and students at the History Harvest stall during your visit and share your story.”

The open day, organised by the Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, in partnership with the University’s Centre for Public History, is on Saturday 30 June from 1pm to 5pm.

Nick Chatten, projects director at the hospital, said: “The open day with tours, talks and exhibition, as well as the history harvest, will help mark the hospital’s final weeks of service before the services transfer. It is an opportunity for members of the public, including former patients and staff, to learn more about the history of the site and importantly to share their memories, photos and other memorabilia.”

Talks will include contributions from former consultant anaesthetist Fab Casale, who is Archivist of the Colchester Medical Society. He has collected many of the medical instruments the students catalogued. Terry Smyth, who was one of the first male nurses to work at the hospital in the 1960s, will be giving a talk, entitled Bags, Bodies and Blood Clots – his personal perspective of the highs and lows of life as a student nurse.

Picture credit: Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust