IT WAS the end of an era as a historic hospital closed its door after 115 years.
Pride and dedication summed up the sentiment at a farewell reception hosted by the Friends of Emsworth Hospital.
The Victoria Cottage Hospital opened in the heart of the town on July 21, 1898, to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.
In 1948 it was taken over by the National Health Service and, by 1997, the hospital dealt with 400 in-patients, 1,800 outpatients and 500 minor accidents.
Times have changed, however, as its services have been winding down and moved to more modern centres.
Plans now are afoot for the site to become the new home for Emsworth Surgery, although no final decisions have been made.
Around 40 people gathered at the hospital to bid farewell.
Malcolm Goddard, former chairman of the Friends, thanked the remaining staff at the hospital, and all their predecessors, for their hard work. Mr Goddard told how the Friends formed in 1947.
He said: ‘In addition to providing equipment, special beds, TVs and telephones for patients’ use, we were able to pay for wards and clinics to be painted and curtained so that people could enjoy a pleasant environment during their stay.
‘The Friends built and equipped the Newholme Physiotherapy Unit attached to the hospital and also donated the money to build White Ward and the adjoining day room.’
Irene Kent, current chairwoman, said: ‘Although the hospital will no longer exist, we are proud to be able to continue to help those Emsworth residents who have health issues by donating money to more than a dozen local organisations.
‘These include the Stroke Club, Ems Valley Transport, The Good Neighbours Scheme, The Blind Club and The Wednesday Day Out Club, all helping to make life more enjoyable for those with health problems.’
Ronnie Benford, a receptionist at the hospital for 34 years, was presented with a bouquet of flowers.