Primrose path - to where?
The former Primrose Lane maternity hospital, in Huntingdon, where thousands of people were born in the 1960s and 1970s, is boarded up and due for demolition after the Department of Health decided to sell it. But on its bricks are carved the names of men,
The former Primrose Lane maternity hospital, in Huntingdon, where thousands of people were born in the 1960s and 1970s, is boarded up and due for demolition after the Department of Health decided to sell it. But on its bricks are carved the names of men, women and children ... leaving clues to untold stories that ran throughout the 20th century. Report by ANGELA SINGER.
ONE of the earliest names to have been carved on the walls of the former Primrose Lane hospital is dated 1904.
Other inscriptions are from children "Leslie Darwin, age 10, London W3, 1944" and by soldiers such as Pte A H Tyler, from the Suffolk Regt 1945, whose name is carefully carved in neat handwriting with the legend: "Bash on boys."
There is even an inscription with an address in America.
A nurse at the hospital, Joyce Hazel, has her name inscribed twice - perhaps by appreciative patients. One carving says: "Nurse Joyce Hazel, July 4, 1942". Another says: "Nurse J E Hazel, 46 Ouse Walk, Huntingdon."
The hospital, built of red brick with stone arches over the windows and doors, has had several incarnations. It was opened in 1898 as a Fever Hospital and opened mainly to treat the elderly. It became an isolation hospital for patients of all ages suffering from contagious diseases.
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In the early 1960s, it became a maternity hospital, using the former isolation unit. By then, penicillin meant isolation hospitals were no longer needed.
When Hinchingbrooke Hospital opened in 1983 the maternity hospital moved there and Primrose Lane became the headquarters for community services.
There are three buildings on site and one was used as a nurses' home.
Now, with grounds overgrown and windows boarded up, community services have also gone - into the Oak Tree Centre on Oxmoor. There are two organisations left in Primrose Lane, the Alzheimer's Society and DASH, the drug and alcohol service for Huntingdonshire.
The buildings, owned by the Department of Health, have been due for demotion for the past three years. However, Carol Watts, a nurse for DASH, contacted The Hunts Post to say the bricks with their carvings should be preserved, either in a museum or mounted for all to see in the High Street.
Ms Watts, from Earith, who has taken pictures of dozens of the bricks, said: "This building has been so important to so many people over the years - my sister was born there.
"It's a shame that it has got to go. Every inscription on the bricks must surely have a story behind it."
Among them is one that reads: "Sidney Lister, Luke Street, Eynesbury, 1926". Another reads: "Trudie Llewellyn born 1916". Yet another is "B Bond, 24, Warboys, August 1940".
Ms Watts said: "I would love to know how these messages got there. We need a time machine.