Sunday, 20 November 2011

Royal Victoria Hospital - Folkestone

Since it construction, the hospital has been known by a few different names......Folkestone Dispensary from 1846 to 1863, then between 1863 and 1890 it was called The Folkestone Dispensary and Infirmary, follwed by The Victoria Hospital between 1890 and 1910 and lastly The Royal Victoria Hospital from 1910 onwards.

The Hospital in 1898

In 1973 the maternity unit was transferred to Willesborough Hospital and following the opening of the William Harvey Hospital at Ashford in 1979, the Royal Victoria was transformed into a centre for geriatric, stroke rehabilitation, eye surgery and general practitioner patients.

On the 14th September 1944, the Hospital was hit by a German shell. Two members of staff and a passing member of the home guard were killed.

In 2005 it was decided that 2 wards were to close at the hospital,and in 2006 it was announced that the old victorian building at Royal Victoria was to be put up for sale by it’s owners, the East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust. Within a week an action group was setup, Save OUR Royal Victoria.

The East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust confirmed in 2007 that the building would be sold, but did pledge to re-locate some of the services into adjacent hospital buildings which were remaining open.

In 2008 the East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust committed to retaining all services at the current hospital site with a £3.6 million investment in upgrading and modernising the remaining buildings. There was also a deal struck to retain the main building facade of the origenal Victorian building when the land is developed.

As the trust wants to sell the site with planning permission for houses, it first commissioned an ecology survey - during which the pipistrelle and rare serotine bats were discovered in the back of the main building and in the separate Wakefield Hall.

This has set back the trust's plans by around nine months, while further information about the protected species is collected and alternative roosts are provided.

Director of facilities Howard Jones said: "We had not noticed any bats before the survey so it was a surprise. It is a bit of a nuisance, but planning is a tricky thing these days, the trust is to apply for a licence to remove the bat roosts and to make sure they are caused minimum disturbance."


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