Birmingham Health & Welfare

Birmingham and Midland Hospital for Skin and Urinary Diseases – John Bright Street

Birmingham Skin Hospital - John Bright Street

Birmingham Skin Hospital - John Bright Street

Opened in 1888 – following transfer of facilities from Newhall Street which began operating in 1881 – the Birmingham and Midland Hospital for Skin and Urinary Diseases operated from its John Bright Street base for nearly 100 years before its work was transferred to George Road Edgbaston and is now part of the Dudley Road ‘City’ Hospital group.

The hospital, as the name suggests, concerned itself with all manner of skin ailments and diseases and operated both an in and out-patient department from the site which was purpose built to house the hospital for the princely sum of £5,000!

Interestingly, the entrance for woman and children was via John Bright Street – as seen above – whilst the entrance for male patients was via the rear of the building on Beak Street (see below) – presumably to save them the embarrassment of being seen entering through the main entrance by women and children due to the moral incorrigibility of more ‘urinary’ related issues!  For in-patients, the ward originally held 21 beds and there wee also medicated bathing facilities to be found in the basement of the building.

With the move to consolidate specialisms within large, multi-disciplinary hospitals – and due to the building itself not being suitable for the modern hospital – closure came during the early 1980s and the building lay derelict for several years.

Whilst working at Edward’s Number 8 nightclub, which adjoined the hospital, in the late-1980s the building was acquired by either Edward Fewtrell or Ansell’s Leisure shortly after their takeover (I can’t precisely recall) and we had keys to the building as it was being used to store a few bits and pieces from the nightclubs and bars.  Naturally, we spent many hours exploring the old hospital which was left in remarkably good condition inside with a lot of fittings and furniture still in place, along with signage etc.

Our greatest find – whilst mooching around in  the dark in the basement area – was a wooden hand cart that was shaped like a coffin:  no idea how old that was as I presume it had been ‘retired’ to the basement many years prior to the hospitals closure . . . at least one would hope so!

Some time later the building was opened as The Hospital – another bar in the by-then rapidly declining John Bright Street bar/club area, killed-off by competition from Broad Street, pedestrianisation and the moving of major bus termini to more central points in the City – which ran for a relatively short period before closure.

Whilst apparently not a listed structure, it is still standing and, externally at least, in pristine condition as the photographs here show.  I am unaware as to any function served by the building itself and assume it is vacant as no external signage indicates otherwise but sitting,a s it does, in one of the City’s development areas I would posit its conversion to offices imminent.


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