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Compiled and copyright © 2003 Norman Osborne

The National Schoolroom in Fulbourn was built in 1859 at the cost of £624 to educate children between the ages of 5-12. With the terrible slaughter of servicemen in France and Belguim, the need for convalescent hospitals became urgent, and on the 19th November 1914, the Rev’d C.F.Townley, of Fulbourn, County Director of the Red Cross asked if there were any buildings suitable for the use as a Voluntry Aid Detatchment Hospital. The Rector of Fulboum, the Rev’d J.V.Durrell gave permission for the infants school to be used.

In four days the entire infants school moved to the Congregational Church Hall and stayed there until November 1918.

In those four days the school was transformed into a V.A.D. hospital and on the 23rd November 1914 the hospital opened and received 30 patients. Fulbourn was the fourth hospital in the Cambridge area to be opened and the first to receive British Servicemen.

The Church School made an entire and compact Red Cross Hospital. The accomodation was as follows:entering the lobby, on the left was a large and lofty ward (was the assembly room) to hold seventeen beds, with two open fire grates; attatched to this ward are the bathroom and wash-house, formed from another lobby. Outside this lobby was a large boiler, taken over from the Welsh Division, which furnishes hot water. Here water was laid on by the Rev’d Townley. Opening out of the large ward was the nurses private kitchen. Going through the class-room, one enters the second ward (was the infants school), to hold eleven beds; opening out of this was the larder, made out of another lobby, with a wire door fitted, so that it was nice and airey. Between the two wards, which were divided by a partition forming a passage was the kitchen (another class-room) fitted with two cooking stoves, water tank, and convenient shelves. Here all the cooking was done, with the exception of the large meat joints, which were kindly cooked by the village baker (Mr Ellis). Connecting the hospital was a temporary covered way. The outhouses were used for washing up purposes, storing coal etc (this was the Fulbourn reading-room which was closed for the duration of the war) and it made a capitol mess-room and recreation room for the patients, and was provided with a billiard table, piano and library.

On the 27th November 1914 a meeting was called in the village to form a V.A.D. for men to relieve nurses at night and to help with the transportation of patients, forty men volunteered their services.

In the period between 1914-1918 Fulbourn V.A.D. Hospital helped to bring back to health one thousand three hundred and seventy eight servicemen. The hospital closed down on the 30th November 1918 and the infants school moved back into their premises.


13 August 2003

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