Ulster Hospital 50 years at Dundonald

Published Friday, 02 November 2012
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The Ulster Hospital is celebrating its 50th anniversary at its Dundonald site.

The hospital was first founded in 1873 as a charity children's hospital at 12 Chichester Street.

In 1876 it outgrew the building and moved to 11 Fisherwick Place (now Jury's Hotel) and in 1882 began to admit women also.

In November, 1891 the Ulster Hospital for Children and Women moved to Templemore Avenue, where a purpose built building was opened in 1912. It was known locally as "the wee hospital".

In April and May 1941, Belfast was heavily bombed by the Germans and on 4 May a direct hit was scored on the roof of the hospital.

It moved temporarily to Haypark on the Ormeau Road but the events of the blitz played a significant part in the establishment of the modern Ulster Hospital.

It was decided that East Belfast and the surrounding area needed a General Hospital and in the days before the NHS, a building fund was launched which saw local people holding flag days, cake sales and raffles .

Events such as a Grand Charity opening of the John Mills film "So Well Remembered" on Friday 26 September 1947 at the Regent Cinema, Newtownards, with a personal appearance by John Mills raised from five shillings to £1 each.

The local community was also encouraged to "buy a brick" for their new hospital.

Those who bought a £50 brick were immortalised on the first floor landing of the Ulster on a wooden plaque, but thousands of others bought the ten shilling (50p) bricks to help contribute.

By September 1948, a total of £89,000 had been raised for the hospital.

Following the introduction of the NHS, more funds became available and a site was identified in Dundonald.

The homeliness of the place... you weren't in an institution, you were with friends. You had a family. They got to know your little ways and you got to know their little ways.

Ian Paisley

From a "tulip" shaped water tower standing at the site, it took 12 years until patients were moved from Haypark to the new hospital on 28 October 1962.

The official opening took place in November 1962.

In the following years, the Ulster dealt with the aftermath of the La Mon bombing, became the regional centre for plastic surgery, experts in limb reattachment, world leaders in scanning and imaging cared for thousands of people.

Many staff used to live on site in the doctors' and nurses' homes, which included a School of Nursing and a staff swimming pool.

One well known patient praised the hospital for the care he received while recovering after a period in intensive care earlier this year.

"My time there was made considerably easy," former First Minister Ian Paisley said.

"It was like a cottage hospital in the country."

He continued: "It was a difficult time, I mean there were so many people wanting to come in and see me. They had trouble to be nice but firm."

Fifty years on, the original building still stands but not for much longer.

A care of the elderly, maternity and renal unit have all been replaced and a new state of the art Critical Care Complex, comprising of theatres and intensive care, opened in November, 2010.

A new inpatient ward block will be completed in Spring 2016, with the final phase of the project to conclude shortly after.

Tina Campbell explores the stories from the Ulster Hospital in the People's Hospital, which is available for 30 days on the UTV Player.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
3 Comments
olive falstad in phoenix. az. usa wrote (457 days ago):
i worked there from 68 to 72. i received the best training, and am still using it today as weekend supervisor in a very busy rehab facility in arizona. I was under the tutorage of Miss Mary rooney, she was strict, but the best. i give all credit to her. Thank you Ulster hospital for great training. O. Falstad
mike higgins in canada wrote (477 days ago):
Many memories of Dundonald hospital when i was a young child.I remember a particular surgeon by the name of Doctor Stephen Brown who changed my life on october 5 1979.Another mention goes to a Dr Cochrane who treated and saw me as a patient on many occasions back in the 70's.
Nurse 1983-19887 in Co.Down wrote (525 days ago):
Enjoyable trip down memory lane. Great to see some familiar faces. I got a great training here that set up my nursing career giving me the skills to work in a number of London hospitals before returning. Its a shame Miss Kerr and Miss Price were interviewed sitting on a bed/trolley. They would not have allowed this to happen in my day on the wards!!!!! lol However, to be fair to them - they also made sure that they went round the wards every day and spoke to the patients.
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