“A seaside nursery for the little ones of our land.”

In 1872, in a cottage on the East Parade,  a small “Children’s Home” was established by Archdeacon Ffoulkes, twelve patients could be accommodated.  The following year the committee purchased a house known as “The Baths” situated on the seaward side of the East Parade.  This newly purchased building could accommodate 16 patients, but had room for expansion and by 1877  eighty children could be accommodated and balconies had been added.

The work grew rapidly and beyond all expectations such that the committee decided to erect a new hospital.  In 1882, Princess Alexandra, the Princess of Wales, consented to become patron of the institution and the name immediately changed to  the “Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital and Convalescent Home”.  Details of the building and opening of the “Royal Alexandra Hospital” will be looked at in the future.  This article looks more at the facilities for, and the experience of children.

The following are extracts from a booklet entitled “Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital and Convalescent Home. Est. 1872”

Since the foundation of the Hospital, many little ones have been received into its wards, and by the help of sea breezes, good food and careful nursing have regained the health and buoyancy which are natural to childhood.  Those who know Rhyl are aware of the excellence of its climate, not only in summer, but also Winter.  It stands almost unequalled for the salubrity and dryness of its atmosphere, its exemption from all kinds of epidemics, the amount of sunshine it enjoys and its entire freedom from fogs.

to read more about Gertrude Ffoulkes click here

It may be said without exaggeration that the hospital at Rhyl provides a seaside nursery for the little ones of our land.  How necessary is the breathing of ozone as a cure for the many forms of tubercular disease, more especially hip and spine and also in cases of general weakness from which so many town bred children suffer.  Here the health giving breezes can be obtained during the whole period of treatment, for even when the little ones have undergone severe operations, there are large balconies to which the cots can be moved during the day, so that the inmates may bask in the sun, and some patients are able to sleep outdoors the whole year round.

There is a fine Sea-Water Plunge Bath, which can be heated to any temperature, and which enables the children to enjoy sea-bathing under cover all through the winter.  There is also a department for X-Rays and the Finsen light, and many cases are brought in for diagnosis, radiography, and Light treatment generally.

It should be remembered that this is a hospital as well as a Convalescent Home, and acute cases of illness are eligible for admission.  Three classes of patients are admitted:-

1. Poor children, who are its primary object; either acute or convalescent cases.  A few women of the poorer classes can be received in addition to the children.

2. Children of professional men and tradesmen, domestic servants, and women engaged in teaching and nursing.

3. Ladies and children whose circumstances do not need the assistance of the charity, but who require nursing and care.

There is a Men’s Accident Ward, with two beds, for cases of accident occurring within the district of Rhyl, but otherwise there is no provision for male adult patients.

The programme for the opening ceremony of the new hospital in 1900 gives statistics illustrating from how far afield the children came.  In the five years to 1899, of the 3,558 admissions only 143 were from Flintshire and a total of 589 from Wales.  2,969 admissions were from English Counties, mainly Staffordshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire, Cheshire and Lancashire. The programme states:

It is in fact, to many inland towns, the only means of giving to the children of the sick poor the pure and bracing sea air which they specially need to restore them to health.

Funding was an ongoing concern, sponsorship was used.  £1,000 would “name” a ward, £25 provided a “Named Bed” with Memorial brass attached.  The booklet goes on to say:

Although money is a very pressing need, there are many other ways in which those willing to help can give very real assistance, such as organising working parties to make clothing for the poor children, or sending navy serge, turkey twill etc., to be made up into garments for them.  Nightgowns, bed-jackets and pinafores are specially needed, but any plain clothing is very acceptable.

It is hardly necessary to add that any gifts which lessen the housekeeping expenses are a very real help, and many friends might be able to send rabbits, fruit, jam and marmalade, eggs, etc., or the green vegetables which are so indispensable for children and so expensive to buy.

English: Ysbyty Frenhinol Alexandra The Royal ...

English: Ysbyty Frenhinol Alexandra The Royal Alexandra Hospital, on Marine Drive, Rhyl. Built in 1894, it was originally a children’s hospital, and later a convalescent home; it is now a Community Hospital and a Family planning clinic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Filed under Buildings/Location, Community, General

9 responses to ““A seaside nursery for the little ones of our land.”

  1. Bob

    The Royal Alexandra Hospital, which has given yeomen service to the people of Rhyl for over 100 years, will inevitably and finally succumb to its eventual transformation into whatever its future befalls. Is it possible that The Rhyl History Club may be allowed a conducted tour, especially around those areas that only very few, except staff, have seen. I refer in particular to the Chapel and the Heated Salt-water Pool mentioned above, and possibly the behind scenes areas such as the Pharmacy, Morgue, Kitchens etc. Maybe contact could be made via Miss Gordon, Bryn Coed Park, who was the very respected Matron for many years. It was Miss Gordon who invited eligible bachelors of the town to escort her nurses to her Ball each year!!!
    I feel she would be pleased to be asked and I would be thrilled to again be invited to The R.A.H..

  2. Annette Roberts

    Could you please allow me to join you if you get a tour organised???As a cadet nurse I got to see many hidden corners of the Alex and would love to see it all again

  3. Andrew

    you’ll be telling me next that you are tall with dark hair and best mates with Mary Sherry!

  4. If we manage to get a tour organised I’m sure you can become an honorary history club member or even a real one! Can you e-mail the club so we have your contact details?

  5. Sandra Williams nee roose

    A tour of the hospital would be nice but there would be little to see now! I worked there as a secretary the 90s and the chapel is in fact beautiful and was still in tact in the late 90s but the old wards were used as storage places for old office furniture and other unused hospital property! The swimming pool was in fact filled with concrete(health & safety)and all the lovely tiled flooring has been covered with carpets.

  6. garry brooks

    Nice little article,again.thank you for the info.

  7. Carol

    I wonder does anyone know the name of any nurses from the “Alex” that served in ww1? please? regards, Carol

  8. Dawn Davies

    Just a small correction. The Therapy Pool has not been filled in and is still intact and accessible, as Ruth from the History Club can testify. Dawn.

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