Restored Havant’s War Memorial Hospital tiles set to go on display

WORK The nursery rhyme tiles from Havant War Memorial Hospital undergoing restoration
WORK The nursery rhyme tiles from Havant War Memorial Hospital undergoing restoration

Charity is praised for its efforts in the city

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For 75 years they were a charming piece of childhood nostalgia on the walls of a hospital.

Now the nursery rhyme tiles – which have delighted many generations of people in Havant – will be put on display for the first time in a museum.

Three of the 10 hand-painted Royal Doulton tiles from Havant’s former War Memorial Hospital will be unveiled at The Spring in East Street.

The 10 panels, which depict nursery rhymes such as Little Boy Blue and Little Miss Muffett, have been restored by a specialist firm in Shropshire and given back to Hampshire’s museum service.

It came after a spirited campaign to save them as the hospital being sold in 2011 left their future in doubt.

A total of £25,000 was finally secured to save them using cash from the NHS Hampshire’s charitable fund and the sale of the building to a care provider.

The grand unveiling will take place on Saturday, January 19 at midday and will be followed by an exhibition for up to four weeks when members of the public will be able to drop in and see them.

Ann Griffiths, from Langstone, was one of the people who campaigned to save the tiles as part of her work with Havant and Bedhampton Community Network, a residents’ panel.

She said: ‘This is a successful project which has been given the support by the NHS and various groups.

‘It’s a piece of happy news.

‘It’s all to do with us not losing bits of our history.’

She said an exhibition of all 10 panels will be held later in 2013.

‘This is just a taster,’ said Mrs Griffiths.

‘I felt we needed to show them to people otherwise we would have had to wait a whole year.’

The tiles were exquisitely painted by the acclaimed artist William Rowe and his descendants will be attending the unveiling.

A DVD revealing the history and restoration of the tiles will be shown.

The tiles were added in 1936 when a children’s ward was built to honour King George V’s Silver Jubilee.

Local historian and Labour councillor Ralph Cousins, fought to save the tiles and remembers the hospital.

He said: ‘For myself, my first visit there was in 1938 when. My mother was carefully nursed before she died and my father spent much time there.’