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Main Block of Cambridge Military Hospital, Aldershot

Description: Main Block of Cambridge Military Hospital

Grade: II
Date Listed: 20 August 1979
English Heritage Building ID: 137868

OS Grid Reference: SU8676751246
OS Grid Coordinates: 486767, 151246
Latitude/Longitude: 51.2538, -0.7581

Location: Hospital Road, Aldershot, Hampshire GU11 1PB

Locality: Aldershot
Local Authority: Rushmoor Borough Council
County: Hampshire
Country: England
Postcode: GU11 1PB

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Listing Text

Main Block of Cambridge Military Hospi

(Formerly listed as:
Aldershot Camp)


Main block of Cambridge Military Hospi

(Formerly listed as:
Aldershot Camp)


Former administrative block of military hospital. 1875-79. Architect unknown, but probably from the Royal Engineers' Department. Builder Messrs Martin Wells and Co. The building forms the central block of the large pavilion-plan hospital built 1875-79, extended 1893 and later, although only this block is of special interest.

MATERIALS: Yellow brick with Bath stone dressings; slate roofs.

EXTERIOR: The front (N) elevation has an imposing symmetrical Italianate facade dominated by the tower. 2 storeys above raised basement. The central section is slightly advanced with a small pediment; ground floor has large, single-storey semi-circular bay with pilasters between windows and a balustraded parapet. This is flanked by 5 window bays, and by forward projecting wings at each end, each of three bays. 2 single-storey entrance porches are set within the inner angle of the wings, approached by stone steps; round-headed doorways and fanlights; W porch has modern glazed covered way attached (not of special interest). Wings have rusticated ground floor and a pediment gable linked to the eaves entablature. Eaves entablature extends across the whole front. First-floor sash windows under gauged flat arches; those to the wings have cornices and cills on brackets and are flanked by 4 pilasters; ground-floor sashes have rounded heads and are in recessed arches; basement windows are under keyblocks in flat arches. The basement has English bond brickwork and horizontal nailhead banded decoration throughout.

Centre piece is a massive square tower on a stepped base. Lower stage is of 3 windows the outer ones blind and the central with decorative iron grille; above, stepped corner broaches meet the octagonal belfry stage with round-headed openings alternated with small rectangular ones above impost level; again with decorative iron grilles. The roof is an oval leaded cupola, containing projecting circular openings and supporting a square clock turret, surmounted by a concave pyramidical roof.

The ward blocks, while of interest as part of an imposing composition, have been altered and do not constitute an early example of the pavilion plan, which by 1875 had been widely adopted for hospitals nationally. They are thus are not of special interest.

INTERIOR: Internal plan comprised a central (former medical officers') room, flanked by pairs of interconnected rooms in the wings, with stairs placed in inner angles of wings on rear elevation. Central room has a pair of cast-iron columns on granite bases which support the lintel of the bay window. The ceiling has a plaster cornice and moulding with floral decoration. Stairs with decorative cast-iron balustrades.

HISTORY: In 1852, 8,000 acres of low-cost heath at Aldershot were purchased as the site of the first permanent training ground for the army, large enough to run regular summer exercises for 10 to 12 battalions at one time. In 1854 work had started on the construction of permanent barracks, and by 1856 North and South Camps, consisting of regular grids of wooden huts, had been erected. A new pavilion-plan hospital had been planned as early as 1856, but little is known of this unexecuted scheme. The Cambridge Military Hospital was built 1875-79, replacing a series of temporary huts, providing a total of 268 beds. Its virtually symmetrical plan closely followed that of the Royal Herbert Hospital, Woolwich (1859-65), comprising a central administrative block with (originally) six pavilion wards arranged three to either side. It opened on 18 July 1879 and was named after HRH the Duke of Cambridge, who was Commander-in-Chief of the Army from 1856 to 1895.

The Cambridge is thought to have been the first army base hospital in history to receive casualties direct from the battle front; the injured from the battle of Mons, in 1914, were taken by ship to Southampton, and then to Aldershot as a staging station before being moved on to other hospitals. It is also thought to have been the birthplace of plastic surgery in the British Empire; Captain (later Sir Harold) Gillies started a Plastic Unit in the Cambridge at the end of 1915, having been sent there after working with Morestin in Paris. Sir William Leishman (1865-1926), the famous pathologist also worked in the hospital, and had a laboratory named after him in 1932.

RCHME Historic Buildings Report: Cambridge Military Hospital, 1991, NBR No 100177
Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, English Hospitals 1660-1948, 1998

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The main block of the Cambridge Military Hospital is designated at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:

* Of special interest as an architecturally distinguished hospital administration block, which ranks among some of the most striking examples of its type for its bold architectural treatment, dominated by the massive tower and cupola. It is the most impressive building to have survived from the early years of the camp.
* Historical associations with casualties from both World Wars, and associations with pioneering work such as plastic surgery and the pathological work done by Sir William Leishman, also contribute to its special interest.

Listing NGR: SU8608751108

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.