On June 13, 1917 a fundraising concert took place at Chester Town Hall in aid of Hoole Bank Red Cross Hospital. The concert featured the popular local ‘Whizz-Bang Pierrot Troupe’ (named after the sound made by an approaching German artillery shell) with new dances choreographed by Mrs Broom and her colleague Miss Irene Hammond.
100 years later, this connection has come full circle with The Hammond School now housed in Hoole Bank House.
HOOLE BANK HOUSE RED CROSS HOSPITAL
Britain declared war on Germany and her allies on 4 August, 1914. Following mobilisation of the Army, the British Expeditionary Force began landing in France on 12 August 1914.
On 15 August 1914 Mr George W Hayes offered Hoole Bank House to the Red Cross as a hospital for wounded soldiers and sailors, paying the expenses for its conversion, even before the first major involvement of British troops in France on 23 August 1914. It was the first of three hospitals in Hoole during the war.
By 24 October 1914 Lady Mackinnon, Vice-Chair of the Chester Branch of the British Red Cross Society, was able to announce that Hoole Bank and Richmond House in Boughton were ready. Appeals were made for donations or support in kind to fund the work of the hospitals. Hoole Bank offered 42 beds from the converted ground floor entertaining rooms and existing bedrooms.The first soldiers began arriving towards the end of October and included a mix of British and Belgian soldiers.
Special efforts were made to celebrate the first Christmas of the War. At Hoole Bank there was a Christmas Tree, a special meal and gifts of pipes, tobacco and cigarettes were sent from Mr & Mrs Hayes. Wounded servicemen from Richmond House were invited, and other guests brought the number to over 100. It was all over by 8:30 pm, as a further 11 wounded arrived on Christmas Night.
In January 1915 Hoole Bank received a gift of five brace of pheasant and three brace of duck from His Majesty the King.
In May 1917 the King and Queen visited Chester, and met staff and patients from all the local Red Cross hospitals in a ceremony at Chester Castle. Sister Mullin led a party of 10 nurses and 25 patients from Hoole Bank at the parade.
The work of Hoole Bank did not cease with the Armistice on 11 November 1918. In fact, the work continued until a Farewell Party on 27 May 1919. In all 1,120 patients had been cared for, 262 of them Canadians. Only two patients had died whilst being treated at Hoole Bank. Nearly 150 individuals worked or directly supported Hoole Bank as a Red Cross Hospital from 1914 to 1919.
A special thank-you to Dave Rees for all his help with this research and The Chester History and Heritage Centre for the wonderful photos.