The History of the Newcastle Infirmary,

1751 to 2001



On the 23rd of May 2001, it was the 250th anniversary of the founding of the first Infirmary in Newcastle upon Tyne. This anniversary has been celebrated with a number of events, including a service at St Nicholas', a gala banquet at the Civic Centre and an exhibition at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (descendant of the first Infirmary). The exhibition is in the old A&E department, and runs until the 1st of June, 10.30am until 4.30pm.


In the middle of the eighteenth century, "health care" was delivered in a very different way than today. If you had the money, you hired the services of a medical man and got treated at home. There were very few hospitals, and only the very poor and very desperate would enter them. "Doctors" of many sorts abounded, as compulsory education and qualification for them only came in 100 years later. There were well educated physicians, who had attended university. There were surgeons, who had served an apprenticeship and sometimes travelled to London to get a bit more experience. There were apothecaries, who sold remedies. They all worked for a fee, and on the whole, if you had no money, you had no treatment ( not necessarily a bad thing, if you consider some of the treatments!).

At that time , Newcastle was becoming prosperous, mainly due to coal. The Mayor, Matthew Ridley, was enlightened, for the times, having given free fuel to the poor during the famine of 1739-40. Altruism towards the poor was growing, with the founding of hospitals for them in many great cities. At the instigation of a local doctor, the demand was made for an Infirmary for Newcastle, and popular opinion carried the idea into reality.

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Ridley, Ingham and Blackett


Time Line

From here, enter the Newcastle Infirmary time line

Dr G Enever, 25/05/01

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