Plaque marks Wakefield’s Clayton Hospital site

HISTORY: The original Clayton Hospital and Wakefield Dispensary. Picture by Mrs Richardson courtesy of Wakefield Libraries.
HISTORY: The original Clayton Hospital and Wakefield Dispensary. Picture by Mrs Richardson courtesy of Wakefield Libraries.

A blue plaque has been unveiled to mark the original site of the city’s historic Clayton Hospital.

The Wakefield Civic Society Plaque is situated on the corner of Wood Street and Cross Street, where the hospital first stood before its move to St John’s.

The society has been researching the history of the hospital as part of a joint ‘Heart of Wakefield’ project with Wakefield Council, Leeds Beckett University and Wakefield Historical Society. The project aims to uncover and tell the stories of Wood Street.

Civic society president Kevin Trickett said: “This has been a fascinating exercise for our project. While what we have uncovered isn’t exactly ‘new information’, the blue plaque will help to bring the story to the attention of a wider audience.”

The hospital was originally just a house, which was the base for a dispensary from 1854. The dispensary had been running from several locations in the city from 1787 but was able to purchase the Wood Street site with money from then Mayor of Wakefield Thomas Clayton.

In 1863, a new wing was added meaning it could offer in-patient care for the first time. And the building’s name was changed to Clayton Hospital and Wakefield General Dispensary.

When Mr Clayton died, he left half of his estate to the hospital and the cash was used to buy a new plot of land at St John’s. The new Clayton Hospital was built there, opening to patients in 1879. It closed down in 2012 and has fallen into disrepair as well as becoming a target for vandals.

Earlier this year Wakefield Grammar School Foundation was granted planning permission to turn it into sports facilities.

The original hospital building on Wood Street, which became offices, was demolished in 1973. It was replaced with a modern office block, owned today by Woodhead Investments, which offered to fund the blue plaque.

Director Mark Woodhead said: “We think it is important for the city’s history to be kept alive in this way...it has been very interesting to see photos of how the buildings used to look and to learn something of the history of the street.”