Harnham Hospital buildings viewed from road

Harnham Red Cross Hospital

The Harnham Red Cross Hospital opened in October 1914 on Coombe Road, Harnham on a site that had been occupied by the Alderbury Union Workhouse since 1836. The hospital was fully handed over to Red Cross in July 1915, with provision for 80 beds, to treat injured soldiers from World War 1.


Soldiers and Red Cross nurses in a group photograph

Soldiers being treated at Harnham Hospital photographed alongside Red Cross nurses

The panoramic photograph above shows soldiers at the Red Cross Hospital. Whilst they were recovering in hospital they were issued with a blue ‘hospital suit’ uniform that consisted of a blue single breasted jacket with white lining to be worn over a white shirt, red tie and blue trousers. They continued to wear their own military cap with regiment badge. It seems this signified they were wounded patients and not absconding. Also, being a fairly cheap flannel material, it was easy to produce in large numbers and to launder too.


The photograph is such good quality that some of the soldiers regiments can be seen from their cap badges. So far identified are the North Staffordshire (Stafford) Regiment and the Lancashire Fusiliers. The caps with maple leaves are likely to be Canadian soldiers.

After the war Harnham Hospital was renamed Tower House Poor Law Institution and in the 1930s it became the Public Assistance Institution. By the 1970s it was known as Meyrick Close County Welfare Home and was demolished later in that decade. The only original part of the building left is the chapel, which is now the Harnham Free Church.


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