H is for Hospital Road and Hazells

Formerly known as Chevington Road it had a change of name when the Suffolk General Hospital opened in January 1826 built on the site of a large weapons depot from Napoleonic times. This was the first real modern day hospital in Suffolk; the great and the good of Bury and the surrounding district were very much involved.

Over the years a great deal of expansion took place including wooden huts used as wards and a fine extension in 1939 known as The Bristol Annexe. Architect Bill Mitchell was responsible for this; he later went on to draw up the plans for The Mildenhall Estate in 1946, having Mitchell Avenue named after him. 

The Annexe, renovated in 1981 after the hospital closed, is now Cornwallis Court, a residential care home run by The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution. Very little of the hospital site remains as housing called St Peter’s Court is there now.

The nearby St Peters Church was built in 1856-8 as a chapel of ease for St Mary’s by Thomas Farrow who had carried out repairs to the Norman Tower. St Johns Church spire of 1842 probably inspired St Peter’s architect John Hakewill (excuse the pun).  For many of its early years the secret financial benefactors that enabled the church to be built were unknown; eventually the three Misses Smith daughters of Dr Thomas Smith were unmasked. He was a physician at the hospital from its inception till his death in 1848.  A foundation stone tells us that the site was provided by the Marquess of Bristol and that the Rev Charles Phipps Eyre and others were in attendance, Rev. Eyre lent his name to Eyre Close, Out Westgate. St Peters is now much more user friendly as comfortable chairs for the worshippers have replaced the pews.

The adjacent St Peters Infants School of 1876, now The Hyndman Centre was a feeder school to The Guildhall Feoffment Junior School.

Opposite the entrance to Cornwallis/St Peters Court is the Child Development Centre. As The Marjory Blyde Nurses home it was built on land given in memory of Oliver Denn Johnson of Barrow, chairman of West Suffolk County Council. He died in 1915 but it wasn’t until 1924 that the project was started with Harvey G Frost as builder, HRH Princess Mary did the official opening. Miss Blyde, once matron of the hospital, went on to become matron of the prestigious Kings College Hospital, London.

Adjacent to the Cornwallis Court entrance is Union Terrace, No.14 was the birthplace of author Louise De La Ramee in 1839. Her mother was English and her estranged father French and likely she was raised by her grandmother. Her childhood pronunciation of her own name ‘Ouida’ led her to use it as a pen-name after she realised she had a talent for writing, producing novels that were lapped up by Victorian Society. She was an ardent pacifist, animal lover and spendthrift living above her means in a London Hotel. She eventually moved to Italy where she died pennyless in 1908. She despised her birthplace, part of a quote attributed to her was “Why, the inhabitants are driven to ringing their own door bells lest they rust through lack of use.”  

Going past Petticoat Lane you encounter former municipal buildings, ex-police and nurse’s houses. The current ambulance depot which was once part of a Civil Defence centre in use during the Cold War at the beginning of the 1960’s and Westgate Primary school. Riverwalk School for children with special needs is along further;the adjacent South Court residential unit is now demolished and replaced with houses.

You cannot leave Hospital Road without mention of its two pubs, The Dove and The Elephant and Castle. The Dove now a CAMRA award winning real ale hostelry was built in 1836 as a beer house. The ‘Trunk’ alas is no more having closed in 2012 and it is now an undertakers. Once people were ‘dying to get in for a drink’ now they are just……