Health bosses have met with a conservation expert to discuss plans for the the future of the war memorial at Harborough’s Cottage Hospital.
The hospital, in Coventry Road, is to be sold and its services provided at an improved St Luke’s hospital, in Leicester Road, leading some to question what will happen to the memorial in its entrance.
Dr Dave Briggs, managing director of the East Leicestershire and Rutland Clinical Commissioning Group (ELCCG), which is responsible for the project, said: “We have now met with planners and the conservation officer at Harborough District Council to get advice from them on the war memorial’s future.
“We are also talking to English Heritage and meeting with local organisations later this month to get their views before presenting the options to the people of Market Harborough and the surrounding area.”
People will be asked for their views on the options for the future of the war memorial later in the yearThe Book of Market Harborough gives us the early history of the cottage hospital:
A determined effort was made to found a proper hospital, and George Green started it off by giving a plot of land in Coventry Road. Money was raised in a variety of ways, and the new Nurse's Home, or Cottage Hospital, was built in 1910.And British Listed Buildings tells us all about the later war memorial portico:
EXTERIOR: The memorial forms the entrance to the memorial wing of a cottage hospital. It has a moulded cornice, with frieze and architrave supported by Tuscan columns at four corners of the three open sides of the octagon. There is a bronze plaque with a scrolled lower edge attached to the frieze between the two front columns inscribed with the following: 'This extension erected by public subscription/ in commemoration of the services of the men of the urban district of Market Harborough in the /Great War. 1914-1918'.
INTERIOR: The remaining five sides of the memorial are recessed within the hospital building, with double doors at the back giving access to the memorial wing. Above the door is a marble tablet with the following inscription: 'The names inscribed on these panels are a record of the/ men from the urban district who served in the Great War./ The names of men who gave their lives are indicated by a cross'. The other four sides, two either side of the door, are filled with marble tablets framed in stone, inscribed with 953 names of those who served; those who died are indicated by a red cross by their name.
HISTORY: A public meeting held in Market Harborough on 12th December 1918 proposed that the town should have two war memorials. The first was a column or cross in the town square to commemorate those who died in the Great War, but the second was to be a free library and reading room in the centre of town in recognition of all those who served. The memorial in the square (listed at Grade II) was dedicated on 21st Sept 1921, but the plans for the library never materialised, and instead were transformed into a memorial extension to the Cottage Hospital, opened in 1923.We are all looking forward to have a new hospital in Market Harborough, but this history reminds us that the cottage hospital was built by the town, was nationalised and is now being closed.
The portico must be found a new home if the cottage hospital site is cleared, and the need for local democratic control of the health service remains as strong as ever.