The Old Infirmary, Silver Street

  • 15 Jan 2012
  • Worcester People and Places
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The Worcester County Infirmary opened its doors to the poor and sick on January 11th, 1746. It was founded by Isaac Maddox, a man of great humanity. He had started life as a pastry-cook's boy, and by his own abilities, had become Bishop of Worcester. Before coming to Worcester he had already been concerned with the alleviation of the suffering of his fellow men. The 18th century was an age of cruelty, of abject misery and suffering, and Maddox used his position to appeal for help to aid the poor and the sick of that time. He did it with great eloquence: ' any sorrow unto their sorrow? No food, nor phisic, nor bed to lie upon, nor house to cover their deceasedbodies from the coldest blasts....could you but hear their melancholy sound of bitter cries, the piercing groans of real distress.....'
It was a time when religion was regarded as an intimate and personal relationship between God and the individual, and sometimes brought about a burning zeal to help the condition of the poor. It was this personal appeal which stirred people's consciences, and brought money in. Sir John Rushout was one of the first to answer the call and with the medical support of four local doctors, namely Doctor's Wall, Attwood, Mackenzie and Cameron, it became the fifth general hospital to be opened in England. It was a small beginning, but by 1765 the building was so crowded that other premises had to be found. Originally, the building had three storeys but the top floor was destroyed by fire. At the back of Dr.Wall's house, on the artichoke field, the new building was started in 1768. A brickworks was set up on Pitchcroft, and anyone who could help or bring materials did so, and despite one of Worcester's worst floods, in November, 1770, the new hospital was declared open in 1771, and the patients transfered from Silver Street.