My Home Town – Aldershot – Part 2
The Cambridge Military Hospital is a very important part of Aldershot’s history.
It was built in 1879 and the design is said to have been strongly influenced by Florence Nightingale.
Florence Nightingale was also know as ‘The Lady with the Lamp’, because of the great care she showed her patients during the Crimean war.
She changed the nursing into a profession when she opened the Worlds first Nursing school in St.Thomas Hospital, London in 1860.
This explains why her input into the design of The Cambridge would have been invaluable.
The Hospital played an important role during all conflicts that Britain sent military to right up until its closure in 1996.
It also played an important part in the lives of civilians who lived in Aldershot, when it was opened to the community after the 2nd World war.
During the 1st World war it’s importance was to grow even more, it was the first base hospital to receive casualties direct from the Western front.
In January 1916 a Military doctor named Harold Gillies returned from France and with him he brought a passion for a new treatment to help the wounded. Whilst in Paris he had seen the amazing art of plastic surgery and he brought it to the Cambridge. It was the first place in the British Empire to perform such surgery.
Following the battle of the Somme in July 1916 Harold Giles and his team carried out around 2,000 facial and jaw surgeries on the terribly wounded men returning home.
Sir Harold Giles and his team.
This was not only ground breaking, but life saving and changing surgery.
This is how the wards once looked.
During the hospitals history there has been one figure has seen it all, all the changes, all the horrors, yet it would appear that she never stopped working. She is know as ‘The Grey Lady’ she is the Cambridge’s ghost.
It is said that she was a nurse at the hospital sometime in the late 1800’s, she accidentally killed one of her patients by giving him too many drugs, the story has it that she was so horrified and guilt ridden by what had happened that she throw herself off the upper floor walk way, to her death.
Before the closure of the Hospital she had been seen often, by staff and patients alike. She appears to still be nursing from the accounts I have read, of how she would sit by seriously ill and dying patients, as if to help them leave this world peacefully.
Today The Cambridge although from the outside is still iconic and beautiful, it has been decaying now 20 years and is showing it.
Inside not doing so well.
However there is good news after all this time the Cambridge and its sister hospital The Louise Margaret an annex to the main hospital are being redeveloped into housing. So Aldershot will keep this stunning land mark, although not in the way most would have liked.
The Louise Margaret was opened in 1898 as a hospital for the families of service men, it later became a maternity hospital. Seeing most Aldershot people being born or giving birth here.
The link below takes you to more information, pictures and video about what is now happening to these historical building.
End of Part 2
Part 3 People who have past through or come from Aldershot.