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The Link with Local Industry

"The top stone had been brought on with rejoicing, the Hospital was open and the workers of the town and neighbourhood, to their honour, had done their part"

- Ald. Guest at the opening of Doncaster Gate Hospital


Throughout its history, Doncaster Gate Hospital has had strong ties with the local industry. These ties have been mutually beneficial; the hospital providing an invaluable service to the local industry and workers and the local industry providing a significant amount of the required finance both as ongoing support and large donations at significant stages throughout the hospital's history.

A major factor in the Hospital's creation was to provide Rotherham with a facility that could serve the many local workers who became victims of industrial accidents and since its creation it has had widespread support from the local industry.

It is important to observe how the Hospital has not been linked to industry solely through business, but how the workers themselves have been involved. In 1937 Canon Morgan told of how it had been a revelation to him to find how near the Hospital was to the hearts of the workers and how generous they were in their support.

Creation (1862-1872)

Prior to the creation of Doncaster Gate Hospital in 1872, the only existing healthcare institution in Rotherham was the dispensary which treated accident victims within one mile of the Parish Church. This was insufficient for the numerous industrial accidents which workers experienced on a regular basis. This resulted in long and painful journeys for casualties, as they had to be taken to the Sheffield General Infirmary. George Gummer (writing in the 1920's) tells how injured workers would be put into an open cart "whether it was winter or summer, whether cold or warm, wet or fine - and jolt all the way to the Sheffield Infirmary".

In 1862 the Boiler explosion at Midland Iron works, which resulted in 9 deaths, brought the issue to the stark attention of the town. The fact that many seriously injured men had to be sent to Sheffield, albeit by rail, highlighted the need for care facilities in the area.

Mr Yates Esq. summarised the view of the local industrial community in saying, "we have within the past two years seen too much of the evils attending removal of persons suffering from serious accidents to Sheffield, or from their being treated in small cottages where they would not have the advantages which the proposed institution would afford".

An example of one such 'evil' is the tragic story of George Hutchings; a Rotherham man who, whilst working for a local builder, had his leg rolled over by a horse drawn stone roller and broken in two places. With immediate medical assistance unobtainable he died upon reaching Sheffield Infirmary.

The industry links can be seen by the involvement of Lord Fitzwilliam in presiding over an initial fundraising meeting and the Earl of Effingham and Lord Howard who donated their joint property to be used for the Hospital. Lord Fitzwilliam and the Earl of Effingham were the largest local mine owners.

Raising money was a community effort, even the local choir joined in by raising £16 16s! However, the financial support offered by the local industrial businesses was instrumental in the success of the hospital. Within 10 months, £4573 of the required £6000 had been promised, much of it coming from workers associations of local companies and the local companies themselves.

The Rotherham Gas Light and Coke Company offered 100 guineas to the building of the hospital and Mr M. Turk of the Gas Company, lead the way in encouraging other neighbourhood companies to do the same, explaining how accidents were bound to occur in their line of work.

Hospital Debt and Appeal (1927-1928)

Another fundraising effort by the community had allowed the hospital to build and open an extension debt-free. This debt-free period was short lived as the expected continued funding fell short. This was as a result of a nationwide coal stoppage, the repercussions of which were felt most strongly in the mining communities and which "affected all classes of the community" and as a result making the income of the hospital considerable less than before the enlargement took place. This is a brilliant example of how the interdependence of the hospital and industry works both ways.

In response to the serious lack of funding, the Hospital appealed for more money. The Rotherham Advertiser also published an article criticising the Silverwood Company, who had previously raised a lot of Hospital finance through their 'penny-in-the-pound' scheme, for not contributing enough and claiming that the donations from their Hospital scheme fell short of the amount spent on their workers and families (who totalled 225 inpatients and 340 outpatients in one year) by over £1000.

Help came in the form of further donations, this time largely from the manufacturing industry, with substantial donations from the Phoenix Steel Works Accidents Club (who donated £300) and the 'Rotherham Forge and Rolling Mills Workmen's Charity Fund' to name just two.1929 saw the creation of a new outpatients ward for the hospital at a cost of £20,000. During this period mining was at its all-time peak in Rotherham, providing an estimated 38% of employment for the town. This may have been a very persuasive influence on the Miner's Welfare Committee who made a £5000 donation towards this cost.

Improvements and Alterations (1937)

It was felt that the Hospital was in need of modernising to continue the high standard of care which it prided itself upon. In 1937 estimates for the cost of new improvements and alterations reached £12,000. Large support came from workers and companies alike. The Silverwood Company were congratulated on their efforts, every worker having donated half a penny in every pound of wages for eight weeks, making a total of £143 16s (a further £300 was donated by the colliery). Similar support came from the Phoenix Steel Works who agreed to contribute at least one shilling for every man employed at the works. Steel, Peach and Tozer agreed on top of doubling their existing support offered to 'come to the rescue' if further help was needed. Despite the sharp decline in the mining industry from its peak in 1929, the industry still donated heavily, the Miners Welfare Committee donating £2137 (plus £300 of accumulated interest) and workers at a nearby colliery donating one shilling per man on the understanding that the colliery would double their total figure.


The interdependent relationship between the hospital and the local industry continued right through the lifespan of heavy industry in the Rotherham District. There are many stories of the ways in which the personal care and attention of the medical staff at Doncaster Gate Hospital help to save and support the lives of those who worked in the dangerous conditions of the mine shaft and the steel works. Nevertheless, the hospital also received its level of support from those for whom they cared and this support was essential to the continued success of the hospital. It is important to recognise that the donations to the hospital came from both the traditional industries as well as the new developing industries. All in all the interdependence which existed between hospital and industry was mutually beneficial and helped to make sure that the hospital was always ready to deal with whatever accident arrived at its doors.

- Ben Baker -

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