A fairly small item in the news is that a new hospital has opened in Ebbw Vale, in the Welsh valleys.
What makes this of significance is that it is replacing two old hospitals, one of which could be considered to have been the model for the entire NHS itself.
Tredegar General Hospital was built in 1904, 44 years before the NHS came into being. The land it was built on, and the money for it’s construction were all charitably donated, and it’s running was funded in part by contributions from the pay of the local mining workforce. A sort of mini, local NHS.
A J Cronin worked at the hospital in the 1920s and the experience undoubtedly contributed to his novel, The Citadel.
The Chairman of the Hospital Management Committee in 1929 was one Aneurin Bevan and his experience in this position was used later, when, as minister of health he introduced the National Health Service.
Now that Tredegar Hospital has been replaced it’s future is most uncertain. It is unlikely to continue as a hospital, and may even be demolished. This would be a great shame.
South Wales has in the past capitalised on it’s history by making museums of it’s old buildings and industries, as at Big Pit, and St Fagans.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Tredegar General Hospital could become an NHS museum, charting the NHS history of the past 60 years.
Or maybe it’s passing and disappearance will epitomise the passing of the NHS itself, which was rooted in Tredegar.