WWI hospital talk

18th July 2016 / News archive

_DSC4821The opening of Chippenham’s World War I Unity and Loyalty hospital is being commemorated 100 years to the day.

The hospital opened in the Neeld and Town Halls on August 9 1916. Townspeople came together to set up the hospital which opened just weeks later. Everything was donated and provided by the local community.

The anniversary is being marked with a specialist talk by town historian Ray Alder who has researched extensively the history of the wartime convalescent hospital.

The talk is in the Neeld on Tuesday August 9 at 7pm. Tickets are £2.50, £1.50 for concessions. Friends of Chippenham Museum and Heritage Centre are free but will need to book. Tickets can be booked online at www.neeld.co.uk or box office 01249 446699.

The two wards – one in the Neeld and one in the Town Hall, treated 1,872 patients between 1915 and April 8 1919 when it closed. Only two military deaths were recorded, both from pneumonia, and four nurses died during the course of service.

The temporary war-time hospital was named Unity and Loyalty to mark the town’s motto on its shield and came to symbolise Chippenham’s efforts during the Great War. The Neeld became Loyalty ward with Unity ward housed alongside in the Town Hall.