This was the first hospital in Gorleston other than anything that may have been offered by the Gorleston Priory. It came about at the instigation and through the persistence of Mr Harry Harvey-George, Manager of the Hewett Short Blue fishing fleet. Mr Harvey-George spoke on several occasions of the urgent needs of men coming ashore having been injured often days ago with the nearest hospital being rather inaccessible in Great Yarmouth. He also made the point relating to the aged and infirm that they could not afford the train fare to Great Yarmouth nor could they readily walk from the tram stop to the hospital.
In December 1886, Messrs. H. Harvey-George and A. W. Blake held a meeting in St. Andrew’s Hall, Gorleston, to consider a Fishermen’s and General Hospital for Gorleston; Mr Harvey-George suggested that it could also celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee (1887).
Meetings, chaired by Harvey-George, were held to progress this matter. On 4th February 1888, it was agreed to rent Mr. Brand’s house, now 235 High Street, also known as St. Andrew’s House, for one year as a suitable place for the hospital. On 25th February, the committee appointed Dr. Meadows as a governor, a matron at £35 p.a. including lighting, coal and dress, but excluding board and Mr. Hindle, of the High Street, as a dispenser at £10 p.a. By 10th March, the committee were purchasing bedding from G. B. Palmer and furniture from Mr. Howlett.
The Gorleston Jubilee Cottage Hospital was officially opened by Harvey Harvey-George on 26th March 1888. The ceremony was preceded by lunch at his house for about 30 people. There was a psalm and prayers at the opening and in the evening there was a concert in St. Andrew’s Hall in aid of hospital funds.
By 28th March, the hospital was in business. It had several rooms and two beds. As well as a matron, there was a night nurse, cook and general assistant. However, in April there was an appeal to complete the hospital’s furnishing.
The hospital reported a level of use of which these statistics are an example: April: 12 outpatients and one admission; May: 44 outpatients and one admission; June: 33 outpatients, one admission and one infant died of influenza. A report on the first three months since opening stated that the hospital had dealt with 90 outpatients of whom 17 were the result of accidents; three inpatients were admitted of whom two were discharged cured and one was remaining, but doing well. The hospital also was doing well with many visitors and gifts from local dignitaries, including one pound from the Duke of Norfolk. In August, the Friendly Societies’ Demonstration, a parade from The Tramway Hotel through the High Street to the Congregational Church, clad in full regalia and headed by the band of the Royal Naval Artillery Volunteers followed by a service conducted by Rev. E. Hall, raised thee pounds ten shillings for the hospital.
However, the hospital was encountering some problems; with two beds in the only ward so that the hospital could not admit men and women at the same time and the stairs were presenting difficulties. Additionally, the nurse caught typhoid fever, that was attributed by some, to the poor sanitation and poor air circulation. The expenses for the first nine months of operation included four pounds five shillings for keeping the nurse whilst she was ill with fever, which Harvey-George hoped would not occur again. On 7th September 1888, the governors were discussing the offers of land north of the recently extended Trafalgar Road (East) to be gifted from the Surbiton Lodge grounds by Harvey-George and the plans for a purpose-built cottage hospital prepared by Mr. H. D. Arnott.
That same month, September 1888, the matron reported on the first six months of the hospital’s work, including a tally of 164 outpatients and, that there had been no inpatient admissions during September, because both beds were occupied. In November 1888, the hospital received gifts from the Harvest Thanksgiving Service held at St. George’s Chapel and gifts of money, equipment and flowers from many sources. Reports of the hospital being busy with outpatients and a few inpatients continued in the local press through to at least the end of November 1889. These references include an inquest held at the Cottage Hospital on 3rd March 1889 on George Dunn aged 16 years of 20 Trueman Terrace, High Street, who drowned at sea: and the death at the Cottage Hospital on 28th April 1889 of Samuel Warner Durrell aged 61 years. As the cottage hospital in Trafalgar Road was still at the plans and contract stage, this must refer to the Jubilee Cottage Hospital.
At a public meeting at St. Andrew’s Hall, in December 1888, concerning the building of a new cottage hospital, Mr. Harvey-George thanked those, who had been working at the existing hospital for the last nine months. The nine month statistics were nine admissions, of which seven had recovered, the other two were still in hospital and there had been 224 outpatients treated. That, he considered, showed how an institution of that kind was needed in Gorleston and did not mean to compete with Great Yarmouth Hospital.
The cottage hospital in Trafalgar Road East was officially opened on 29th August 1889 and it would seem that the use of the building, that is now 235 High Street, tailed off over the next three or four months. It probably returned to use as a private house early in 1890.