The North of England Southport Children’s Sanatorium

The North of England Children’s Sanatorium (Southport Sanitarium for Children) (photo from the Merseyside Record Office, Liverpool Libraries) at Rivington, Hoghton Street, Southport, and later at Hawkshead Street South, was a  homeopathic establishment, opened in 1860, and closed in 1971,

1850 – Mary Smith rented a house in School Street, Southport to open a sanatorium,

1858 – the old sanatorium closed, but as the need remained, Mary Smith rented another house in Hawkshead Street, and reopened the sanatorium,

1860 – Henry Blumberg senior, founded the Southport Children’s Sanatorium,

1861 – the Southport Children’s Sanatorium opened,

1862 – Henry Blumberg senior left the sanatorium,

1862 – Miss Marriott took over the sanatorium,

1866 – the sanatorium was handed over to a Board of Management which comprised Provisional Committee Members: Rev. J Jackson, Rev. B S Clarke, Rev. W Highton, W Dixon, H Clarke, G H Bromilow, T R Stephenson, F Millson, John James Drysdale, Adrian Stokes, Juan Norberto Casanova, Charles Tysoe Harvey; Treasurer: T R Stephenson; Secretary: J J Banning; Physician: Adrian Stokes. The extracts from the bye laws for the sanatorium were published in the London and Provincial Homeopathic Medical Directory, for children aged 2 – 15 years, who are not suffering from contagious diseases, at a cost of 15 shillings for the first 3 weeks, and 5 shillings for each successive week (for those with a written recommendation from a Governor), and 21 shillings for the first 3 weeks, and 7 shillings for each successive week (for those with a recommendation from anyone who is not a Governor). Anyone donating £10 and upwards shall be a Governor for life, and anyone donating £1 and upwards shall be a Governor for one year, and the government of the sanatorium will be vested in the Governors so qualified. Governors who donate £10 and upwards shall have one vote for each £10, and subscribers of £1 and upwards shall have one vote for each pound donated in the year of subscription, but no votes will be allowed until the subscriptions and donations are actually paid.

1868 – that sanatorium now had 30 beds, and the Board of Management now comprised Committee Members: G H Bromilow, J R Stephenson, F Millson, John James Drysdale, Adrian Stokes, Charles Tysoe Harvey; Treasurer: T R Stephenson,; Secretary: J J Banning; Physician: Adrian Stokes,

1869 – the Board of Management now comprised President: G H Bromilow, Vice President: Thomas Banner Newton; Management Committee: Mrs. Banning, Mrs, Bromilow, Mrs, Christian, Mrs, Daglish, Mrs. Hesketh, Miss Marriott, Miss Mary Smith, Rev. J H Carlisle, William Geddes, Mr. Gillett, S W Kelso, David Loly, James B Newton; Treasurer: T R Stephenson; Secretary: J J Banning; Physicians: Adrian Stokes, Charles Tysoe Harvey,

1878 – A much larger purpose-build accommodation in Hawkshead Street was opened, partly funded by the Cotton Districts Convalescent Fund. The Southport Sanatorium for Children was renamed the North of England Children’s Sanatorium. The sanatorium was meant for children from throughout Britain with non-contagious diseases to recover from illness or have a medically supervised holiday. The new North of England Children’s Sanatorium, Hawkshead Street South, was opened by the Right Hon. Lady Lindsay,

1878 – F W Finchett was Vice Chairman of the sanatorium,

1882 – the sanatorium was open for the care of 60 Children between the ages of 2 and 16,

1886 – Henry Blumberg senior returned to work at the sanatorium,

1888 – the 27th Annual Report of the sanatorium was published in the British Homeopathic Review,

1890 – the Children’s Wing of the new extension to the sanatorium has been named the Harvey Ward in memory of Charles Tysoe Harvey who had been associated with the sanatorium since its foundation 30 years previously,

1893 – Jonathan Dorning of Swinton left £1000 to the sanatorium in his will,

1894 – the Blumberg cot was dedicated to Henry Blumberg senior, who founded the sanatorium, in his memory. The 33rd Annual Report of the sanatorium was published in the British Homeopathic Review, including details of the new wing added to the sanatorium during the year 1893. William M Storrar and Henry Blumberg junior were recorded as Physicians at the sanatorium. 268 patients were sent to the sanatorium by the Cotton Districts Convalescents Fund,

1897 – the Sanatorium was open for the care and medical treatment of sick children (boys 2 to 12 years of age and girls 2 to 16),

1899 – the 38th Annual Report of the sanatorium was published in the British Homeopathic Review (874 cases treated in that year),

1900 – William M Storrar, having succeeded Dr. Brotchie in Belfast, his place in Southport  has been occupied by Dr. Barrow,

1904 – the Jonathan Dorning Cot at the Sanatorium was donated  at a cost of £1000, for the benefit of the village of Swinton,

1908 – David MacDonald was a Physician at the sanatorium,

1911 – Edward Cronin Lowe was a Consultant of Pathology at the sanatorium,

1912 – the County Borough of Bolton maintained 6 beds at the sanatorium,

1915 – George Cockshott, solicitor was appointed Deputy Chairman of the sanatorium,

1923 – Ms. D E Baker is Matron at the sanatorium,

1923 – the Southport Music Festival was held in aid of the sanatorium on 15.7.1923,

1924 – the Annual Report of the sanatorium was presented by Henry Blumberg junior, and published in the British Medical Journal 7.3.1925. 1262 children had been seen in the sanatorium in this year, the average duration of stay was 3 weeks. The children were mostly from industrial areas suffering from chorea, bronchitis, rheumatism, anaemia and debility after fevers. A number of children ‘more or less crippled from infancy’ were also admitted, and Henry Blumberg junior regretted the lack of early orthopaedic intervention in such cases due to lack of provision of orthopaedic services. The sanatorium had a long waiting list. £1741 had been raised by ballot for the hospital, and the income for the year was £5253. Dr. J B Stelfox had endowed 2 beds at the sanatorium during the years in memory of his wife.

1936 – Helen W Duncan, BA, MD, MRCP, MRCS, was Assistant Medical Officer at the sanatorium,

1938 – the sanatorium was extended to 150 beds,

1945 – Sheffield lad Jack Hoyle was a patient at the sanatorium,

1947 – the sanatorium had 134 beds,

1948 – the sanatorium was taken into the NHS,

1971 – the sanatorium closed,

The Sanatorium’s origin is not altogether clear as no records of its foundation have survived. This uncertainty is reflected in the slightly differing accounts given in the available reports, newspaper cuttings and so on; there are in any case no surviving records before 1867 (these were in the homeopathic publications quoted above).

It seems that the need for a Sanatorium was first perceived in the 1850s when Mary Smith rented a house in School Street, Southport for the purpose.

This venture closed around 1858, but as the need remained, Mary Smith rented another house in Hawkshead Street. At her request John D’Arnin (Henry) Blumberg senior, a Hungarian homeopathic doctor, became its medical officer. He only stayed there until 1862 so the work of the Sanatorium was soon at risk once again (John D’Arnin (Henry) Blumberg senior eventually returned to the Sanatorium and Southport, dying in 1893).

Fortunately the management was taken over by the Miss Marriott who in turn handed the Sanatorium over to a Board of Management in 1868.

At this time the Sanatorium was still in the rented house on Hawkshead Street with accommodation for just thirty children. Much larger purpose-built accommodation was opened in 1878 – partly funded by the Cotton Districts Convalescent Fund.

Further extensions were made in 1938, allowing for the treatment of about 150 children at the same time. Although most patients were from the North of England, children from all over the country were admitted.

The hospital was funded by voluntary subscription and donation until it was taken over by the National Health Service in 1948.

After this date it underwent many changes which were especially criticised by Rosa D’Arnin Blumberg (John D’Arnin (Henry) Blumberg senior‘s daughter). (There had been earlier pre-War controversy concerning the extent to which the hospital should be run on homeopathic lines, and whether there was any constraint on the Board to run it in this way.)

By the time the Sanatorium closed in 1971 it had radically changed its function, and was acting as a geriatric hospital.

The records of the sanatorium are held by the Merseyside County Archives 1867 – 1960, and in the Liverpool Record Office, (deposited on 7 February 1977, on permanent loan, by A W Cunliffe, District Administrator, District HQ, Sunnyside Hospital, Knowsley Road, Southport),

Southport Forum for memories of people who were patients at the sanatorium when they were children,

Of interest:

Barrow was a British orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy, the successor of Dr. Van der Henvel, a Belgian homeopath, originally Barrow settled in Kimberly, he fell foul of the allopaths but still managed to secure a ‘splendid practice’, Barrow replaced William M Storrar at the Southport Children’s sanatorium, and he also practiced at 57 Hoghton Street, Southport,

John D’Arnin (Henry) Blumberg senior 1829 – 1893, MD, LRCP 1858, was born in Hungary and studied medicine in Vienna. His great grandfather was the Hungarian Ambassador to St. Petersberg,

Henry Blumberg senior came to England in 1856 (probably when he adopted the first name Henry) during the uprising, and converted to homeopathy, a ‘tall sparely built man with long black hair, eyes and sallow complexion” – was a poet, linguist (six modern languages)’,

Henry Blumberg senior married Frances,

1857 – Henry Blumberg senior became a member of the Manchester Homeopathic Medico Chirurgical Society,

1881 – Henry Blumberg senior attended the International Homeopathic Convention,

1883 – Henry Blumberg senior delivered the Hahnemann Oration at the London Homeopathic Hospital, and took for his subject a comparative view of Hippocrates and Samuel Hahnemann,

Henry Blumberg senior‘s death in 1893 was mentioned at the British Homeopathic Congress in 1893 and reported in the American Medical Century,

Henry Blumberg senior wrote The Medicine of the Future, Tabes Dorsalis as a consequence of the abuse of mercury,

Rosa D’Arnin Blumberg, daughter of John D’Arnin (Henry) Blumberg senior, was also closely involved with the sanatorium, and she attended the Manchester College of Music,

Henry Blumberg junior, son of John D’Arnin (Henry) Blumberg senior, was a British orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy, and who was also associated with the sanatorium in 1924,

George Cockshott 1875 – BA Master of Laws, born in Preston, the son of John James and Jane Cockshott of Southport, he was educated at Uppington School and King’s College Cambridge. He married Mary Eileen Beatrice in 1906, daughter of Samuel Mason Kent of Wicklow, and had 2 sons,

Jonathan Dorning of Swinton was the sole lessee of the Thames and Channel Passenger Service (steam shipping), founder of the Galway and Packet Station, Director of the South Wales Railway Company and Atlantic Royal Mail Steam Navigation Company and MP for Galway,

Charles Tysoe Harvey ?1821 – ?1890, MRCS England 1848, Licentiate of K&Q College Ireland 1860, was a British orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy, Member of the Northern Homeopathic Medical Association, who also practiced at 48 Houghton Street, Southport,

Right Hon. Lady Lindsay was Emily Florence, the wife of James Lindsay 26th Earl of Crawford (a family with a long tradition of advocating homeopathy),

Ms. Marriott was a sponsor and advocate of homeopathy in 1871, and a friend of Mary Smith, (E Marriott and Co were dispensing homeopathic chemists in Havelock Road, Hastings in 1884), (Dr. Marriot was a homeopath working for the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1916),

Mary Smith was a sponsor and advocate of homeopathy in 1871,

William M Storrar was a British orthodox physician who converted to homeopathy, Member of the British Homeopathic Society,

In 1866, William M Storrar was admonished by his allopathic brethren for his conversion to homeopathy and they moved to have his name struck from the Medical Register,

William M Storrar wrote A Digest of Ten Years Work at a Children’s Sanitorium,

Jack Hoyle reminisces:

Yorkshireman Jack Hoyle treasures vivid memories of the unusual first holiday he spent in Southport more than 60 years ago. For three weeks in late 1945, 11 year old Sheffield lad Jack Hoyle was a patient at the North of England Children’s Sanatorium in Hawkshead Street.

Despite its imposing exterior and warnings of an ‘awful’ reputation, Jack describes his stay as “a great experience and adventure. Now 73 and living in Grimsby, Jack told LookBack that he owed his first stay beside the sea to a nasty bout of wartime malnourishment.

He said: “A few weeks before I went my mum had said to me, ‘you’re so thin I could easily play a tune on your ribs’. Years of wartime rations and food shortages had left us without a great choice of food variety.

Taken to a doctor for examination, Jack was referred to the Children’s Sanatorium on the grounds he “needed feeding up. Initially, his reaction was one of excitement, but this turned to trepidation when, on arrival at Chapel Street station, his father asked a passing woman directions to the Sanatorium. “She gaped at Dad and said ‘You are surely not taking that nice boy to such an awful place,’ remembered Jack.

The old Victorian building itself on Hawkshead Street was far from welcoming. Jack said it looked ‘cold and sombre, with bars on its upstairs windows and surrounded by a high wall. Inside, while it was ‘rather cold and draughty’, Jack saw ‘a play area full of lovely brand new toys of many kinds’.

He continued: ‘However I was told that we could only play with them on rainy days, the reason for this was that it was important for us to get fresh air and exercise – usually while kicking a ball in the park’.

Once, while out with other patients, Jack saw a prominent local businessman being pushed in a wheelchair. The elderly man was Bob Martin, the entrepreneur behind the range of pet products that were produced in the town.

Also among Jack’s vivid memories of his stay were a visit by the then Mayor of Southport, Mr S. Ernest Charlton, and a journey by horse and dray – the only transport the Sanatorium had. After a Catholic Mass held to celebrate harvest festival, Jack and another boy were given a ride back to Hawkshead Street on a horse and dray, ‘driven by an old man with a waxed moustache’.

Jack said: ‘Our job was to carry and load all the produce from the service onto the dray and bring it back to the home – some treat!’

After three weeks at the Sanatorium, Jack had put on 3lbs and was judged able to return to his parents. ‘It had been a great experience and adventure, which I have never forgotten’, he said.

26 thoughts on “The North of England Southport Children’s Sanatorium”

  1. In fact, George Cockshott, (referred to in your text), was a man of many interests and talents. He was a keen amateur boat designer who won several design competitions. His 1913 design for a 12-foot sailing dinghy became the first small boat to be granted international status and was raced in the 1920 and 1928 Olympic Games. This design still sails today with large fleets in Italy, the Netherlands and Japan, and 120 boats are expected at this years World Dinghy Championships to be sailed in Venice.
    Apart from this he designed many other boats including the West Kirby Stars. For many years he played a prominent part in the Southport Lifeboat service.
    He had various other charitable interests.

  2. Hi can anybody tell me what happened to the medical records from that hospital please? I was there 45 years ago, as a little girl, and I STILL have that piece of my childhood missing. I would have liked to find my records, and also some of the friends i had there. I still remember most of their names, even though I was only 8. Thanks, Carol

  3. Iwas a patient during 1944.My memories are of the stew we were given for lunch every day.The sweat ration once a week and playing cricket in the yard,walks to the park and the beach and the fact that any letters home had to be left open so they could be read befor posting.

  4. I was there when four & a half having had an eye operation.I was really poorly in the hospital & in an oxygen tent. I recall my parents visiting in the hospital but only Mum visited me at the sanitorium. I think we had porridge every day for breakfast but may be wrong. My memory is not clear as I was so young & it was 61 years ago. I do remember the pony & trap & going out & seeing my Mum in King Street as we lived in Duke street. And I had hysterics because I wasn’t allowed to go home with her.

  5. I was in that Convalesant home in about 1952 along with my twin brother,my memories of that place were awfull, the food was awfull and was on the basis of first come first served ( i was only about seven yrs old) they took us to this childrens playground with a dirty old sandpit and two grotty swings(never did get on them) Church was on a sunday just down the road. i can remember there was this playground at the back and you could look into the kitchens at this machine peelings spuds, The beds were in a long ward and a big comunal washroom with a big bath all in,together bodies everywere , yes girls as well. After complaining to my parents they took us home, there was a bust up in the main foyer between my dad and the matron she said everything was fine but my dad begged to differ. Peter from Roby.

  6. Hi, can anyone tell me any information about the medical records, ive been in contact with merseyside records but they dont have any records of patients and i really need to find them.

    Best Regards


  7. Hi
    My late Mother in Law was an inmate there from Bolton , she absconded a few times .

  8. I was there in the late ’60s I think. Twice once when I was around 6 and another time when I was about 8 -9 I’m not sue and I don’t really know why.

  9. Ref: Hawkshead children’s hospital, Southport.
    I was a patient in the hospital and I loved it. I can remember the school downstairs and at the weekend going to the shops for sweeties and looking at the dolls hospital in the window, which has now gone. I remember some of the children and their names. I had my first boyfriend and we would hold hands :)

    If you want names email me for more information :)

  10. Is there any further information and photos available please?
    Joan Brindle (1953)

  11. I was there in the summer of 1971 for a few months. Was on Blumberg Ward. I remember the small school downstairs and there was a playground at the back, with swings, slides and a roundabout. Sometimes in the evenings and at weekends there would be walks to Hesketh Park and The Botanical Gardens. Interesting reading about Henry Blumberg, don’t think I knew about him at the time, all I knew was that Blumberg was the name of the ward. I do note that the place was apparently closed the same year I was there. Yet on the National Archives website, says Hawkshead Hospital was closed in 1977.

    By the way I’m now 50 and teaching English in China.

  12. I think was here between 1954 to 1956 I too remember playing in the yard at the back. I have a photo of a class room with 11 children and a teacher.

  13. I was in the hospital at the age of six back in 1966 there didn’t seem to be eny records after 1960 who remberers the play house out side and the big boat swing use to go in the park for walks and church on a Sunday xx

  14. Remember my mum bringing me here straight from Townleys Hospital, Bolton was around 61/62, I was around 6/7 yrs old. Never knew why I was here but was always coughing and a bad tummy, she never told me. Remember being in a dormitory with other girls, there was a large dinning room, and I vaguely remember a playground with a big slide and swings. We went to stationary at weekend and we could write letters home. We used to go to the sand dunes quite often, prob for the sea air, I also remember going watching Sooty and Sweep with Harry Corbett. The meals always seemed to be some sort of a stew, and porridge for breakfast, no wonder I don’t eat porridge, it was horrible. When I think of this place I always smile, so it couldn’t have been too bad. Love to hear memories, and reasons why you was there, especially around the same time I was there. 1961/62.

  15. I was there for 6 months in 1964, left just before Christmas. Staff Nurse Shepherd … Bossy lol, Nurse Rimmer… black hair and beautiful with a little scar on her arm. Michael Bradbury was my friend and we both held on to her every time she came into the playground!!! Puppy Love. Never forgot queuing to have spoon full of Cod Liver Oil every day…..Misery…… Walking to the Parks each week to play…. part of my life’s history and what memories are made of!

  16. People from Southport are known as “Sandgrounders”, although there is debate about what is sufficient to qualify for that name as the majority of the locals are today made up of liverpudlians who over the past 20 years have move out of the city and larger towns within Merseyside to settle in Southport which has not left many of the original Lancashire residents.

  17. Hi i was there in the 70s loved it i was nine, then went back a few times till about eleven , i was sent there aparantly for behavioural problems , would like to know more , were are records.

  18. My mum is 90 this year and was sent to the sanitarium when she was young is there a book I can buy with peoples memory’s and history in it

  19. I spent time there in the early 1950’s. I seemed to enjoy the experience. I remember walking in a group to the park. I can still sing all the words to the song, “Mummy, daddy, take me home, from this convalescent home.”

  20. I have been researching my family tree and found that my Great Grandfather was in this sanitorium during the 1881 census. I cannot find anymore records about him. Why he was admitted etc. I would love to find out more. Is there anywhere I can find these records. He was 11-12 years old. At 17 years he sailed out to Australia. His name is Ezekiel Browne. The spelling on the census is Eyekill Browne.

  21. To Hayley , did you ever find your records, I’m still trying to find mine. When were you in there? I was there 1965 and have since found a few people who were there at that time too. I still remember their names as well . Carol

  22. In reply to this , Hayley says:
    January 2, 2013 at 11:12 pm
    Hi, can anyone tell me any information about the medical records, ive been in contact with merseyside records but they dont have any records of patients and i really need to find them.

    Best Regards


  23. I was a resident in about 1964 for about 1 month at age 11. I had a shadow on mu lung after having phneumonia following broken ribs. I remember there were orphans in the home and that my mam and dad would come to visit from Manchester 3 times a week and so that the less fortunate children never felt left out we pooled sweets and treats my parents would bring for me. I have very fond memories of this time and felt I was well looked after by the nursing staff. We did go out a lot in a bus and as it was the intention that I got fresh air proved that my health was important. I wish I could remember some of the friends I made.

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