Cottage Hospital

Staying healthy in WGC

By Roger Filler

Cottage Hospital in Church Road c1965
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies

Welwyn Garden City’s original cottage hospital was founded in January 1929 when The Hollies Nursing Home in Elm Gardens was purchased with eight beds of which three were private.

Boys’ Prep School

It moved in 1940 to Fretherne House, in Church Road, in the building that is now The Doctor’s Tonic public house. This was a boys’ prep school, but when war broke out the pupils were evacuated and the building became vacant.

Fetes were held every summer to keep the hospital going. There was an annual dinner and dance at the Cherry Tree and a hospital week was also held annually. If finances or a piece of essential equipment was urgently needed a phone call to one of the large factories in the town usually brought a favourable result.

Stand and deliver

One very successful fund-raising stunt involved a band of Garden Citizens who posed as highwaymen and stopped cars on the North Road, demanding money for the Cottage Hospital fund. No donations meant no passage through the area.

What shall we do with it now?

After Queen Elizabeth II hospital opened in the early 1960s the Cottage Hospital was leased to the local Health Authority for the care of the elderly. When its lease expired in 1978 several applications were considered by the council. These included a nightclub, a private hospital and an executive training centre. These were all rejected.
Eventually the building was purchased as a pub/restaurant, re-named the Doctor’s Tonic, which opened in November 1982 and still exists today.

Did you ever spend any time in the Cottage Hospital as a patient? Perhaps you remember visiting a friend or relation there or maybe you worked there. If so, share your memories with us. Log on and leave a message.

This page was added on 14/05/2009.

Comments about this page

  • I had my tonsils out at the cottage hospital when I was 5 years old in 1959

    By Patrick Rafferty (28/02/2018)
  • My sister Susan was born at the Cottage Hospital in July 1954

    By Sally Kilsbie (09/01/2018)
  • I had my tonsils out at the cottage hospital in 1955. It was a miserable time as we weren’t allowed visitors. The nurses were very strict.  I think they thought visitors would disturb the children and disrupt routine. 

    By Dawn Merry (was Barker) (28/08/2016)
  • I worked in the restaurant at the Cottage Hospital as one of the cooks for 15 months and I really enjoyed it.  The restaurant kept going 18 hours a day and at peak times there were 20 cooks in the kitchen.  I worked a 63 hour week and it was the best time of my life.  When patients left the hospital they used to send us letters of how good the food which was a real feel of accomplishment for us cooks working out backsides off to feed them for free. 

    By Peggy Albury (16/07/2016)
  • I worked part-time as a cleaner at the Cottage Hospital for a few years from 1974, when it cared for the elderly, up until it`s closure in 1978/9, when the patients were moved to the new QE11 Geriatric wards…..I remember none of them wanted to leave as the Cottage was a relaxed and happy environment for them, they had more freedom there than the patients at the main hospital. There was accommodation for nurses up on the top floor, and the senior Nursing Officer and his wife lived if the flat on the 1st floor. There was a kitchen, and staff rest rooms on that floor too.                                                             There were only 20 beds in all, 15 ladies and 5 men, they only met if they wanted to sit in the same rest rooms, otherwise they could sit by their bed with the windows to the garden open if they wished, or in their own rest room(a lot of the elderly ladies didn`t like to mix with men while in their dressing gowns etc.) They had lots of their own bits & pieces around them, including in one case, a cage with Zebra Finches in !! We just cleaned round them, and often had time to stop and chat, then help the nurses with the meals maybe, which were brought down from the QE11 kitchens by van in hot boxes. Breakfast & supper was cooked in the kitchen upstairs and lowered down by the original Dumb Waiter ! Because it was a small area we also got to know many of the relatives when they visited, and Christmas time there was always many a glass of sherry , and in the men`s ward the odd tot of Whisky !The Porter used to make time to play a game of chess sometimes with the men (often after his shift finished) One day a patient came in with Dementia and she looked familiar to me…. she turned out to be my Great Aunt and I got to meet my cousins when they came to visit her ! the only problem was that she thought I was my mother ! I was able to be with her for some time and was pleased to be part of the family. This was what the Cottage Hospital was like, and it was an awful shame when it closed. Many tears. Many memories.

    By Christina Baker (26/07/2015)
  • I am writing my family history and as I was born and raised in WGC I have been researching all my brain prompts to add colour and texture to my script. I recall having an accident one evening at the Peartree youth club. I was taken to the Cottage Hospital for stitches. I recall that being frightened of a telling off from my parents I refused to give the doctors my name. I look back at this now and conclude that being a ‘teenager’ was/is far worse than being an OAP…..A belated thank you to the wonderful staff who coped with me that evening. MM

    By Margaret Mitchell (29/06/2014)
  • I had my knee stitched up in about 1960 at the Cottage Hospital, aged 8 after falling over on the then brand new Burrowfields gravel road. The nurse spent quite a while with tweezers picking out bits of tar and gravel. The following week when I went in to have the stitches removed they had burst open. I now have a scar almost as wide as it is long and bits of tar can still be seen below the surface. My brothers all had their tonsils out there. Incidentally I remember that name Lynn Sessions in the comment above, perhaps she was at Peartree School?

    By Peter Williams (05/02/2014)
  • I was a patient at the cottage hospital when I was six in 1958! Having my tonsils removed, my friend Lynn Sessions was in the bed next to me. My father and sister both had their appendixes removed there.

    By Denise Driver (nee Aylott) (17/05/2013)

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