The origin of the term “Cottage Hospital” may derive from the fact that they were intended to treat “cottagers”, who were the poor of the community.

In 1880, Dr Cann built the Cottage Hospital on open land at the top of what is now Luscombe Terrace. The hospital was subscribed by voluntary contribution. It cost £970 to build.
The land was given for the hospital on condition that “no maternity, tuberculosis, hopeless mental or chronic illness were admitted” Children under two were also excluded except for operations or accidents.

There was a system of “recommends”, which meant that donors to the hospital could be approached to provide a recommendation for treatment at the hospital. The Misses Gamling of Charlton House frequently provided these. This system was abolished in 1922 and an insurance scheme was introduced

The local ambulance was a truckle cart, a stretcher with a leather hood which could be fixed to a set of wheels and pushed by volunteers of the St John’s Ambulance.

Before 1947, local hospitals were paid for by the local community. There was a Matron responsible for the nursing and housekeeping. The doctors gave their services free, making their living from their wealthier clients. In 1932, a lottery made a profit of £150 and a fete raised £249 thanks to the support mainly of a small number of wealthy residents.

During WW2, a lot of the nursing was done by the civil nursing reserve who gave their services voluntarily. Sisters and nurses lived in a small room on the top floor. Matron lived in a small flat which became the physiotherapy dept. There were coal fires in the wards but a lot of heating was provided by the Aga cooker. Nurses carried patients’ meals from the kitchen but private patients had theirs on plates with copper base filled with a hot water.

When the NHS was created, the Government took over, improving working hours and salaries. Floors were covered in lino and the yellow and brown paintwork was made lighter and brighter.

In 1970, a health centre was built at the bottom of Hospital Hill allowing patients to visit their doctor in a purpose built building. This was replaced in 1990 with a new, larger building on the north side of Barton Terrace. And in 1996 a large modern hospital was built next to it.