The Entrances


The hospital had two entrances, both in Magpie Hall Road (originally Magpie Hall Lane); one was towards the bottom of the site, and the other, main, entrance was near the top. Things weren't always that way though - the entrance you would have taken to enter the workhouse wasn't necessarily the one you'd use to get into the hospital.

The Hospital Entrance

View towards the main buildings from the main gate.This picture shows the view from the main entrance to the hospital, towards the main buildings. The building on the left close to the camera, with the sloped and flat roofs is the mortuary. During the wars the bodies of servicemen were regularly loaded into hearses and driven to either Chatham or Gillingham cemeteries. Apparently the locals (the nearest house is about 50 feet from this spot) were upset by all of the funeral processions, and asked the hospital to move the mortuary so that at least they didn't see the coffins being loaded up. The mortuary was there until the hospital closed, so presumably they didn't move it.

The long building with the spire across the background is the main hospital block - more about that later. The white building to the right of the photograph was the domestic department. Just out of shot to the right was the ambulance park, so that ambulances didn't get held up on the way out.

The roundabout on the way to the entrance.As you can see form the first photograph, it was quite a long way from the main entrance to the main block. On the way there, you came across this roundabout in the road, controlling traffic to the ante-natal clinic and labour ward. The building you can see here is part of the main block. The pre-fabricated-looking parts are actually a separate ward!

This is on quite a steep hill, although not the steepest on the site. You'd start getting a little puffed out by the time you got here.

The main entrance to the main block of the hospital.This photograph shows the main entrance to the hospital. It looked as though it had a bell tower at the top, although I take it that it was just what would be called a "design feature". The reception desk was through a small hallway just behind the main door at the top of the steps. It was just a normal glazed front door - presumably it replaced some much more impressive workhouse doors which had long since disappeared.

The single-storey building on the right, joining the main entrance, was the corridor to the maternity wards. The double doors to the right of the car were where most children born there, including two of mine, left the hospital. There was at least one tunnel one the site, running from the porters' lodge to the main block. Looking at the site plan, I think one of the entrances was in the small square block with the open door, just behind the car.

The Workhouse Entrance

The entrance you'd have used as a prospective inmate of the workhouse was obviously nowhere near as grand as the hospital's.

The workhouse admissions block. The admissions block was accessed through the entrance at the bottom end of the site. This was one of the original workhouse buildings, and has a crest mounted above the door. The crest is a shield depicting a rampant horse (the same as the one on Kent's coat of arms), hanging by a leather belt on a background of leaves. The Kent motto 'Invicta' is on a scroll underneath.

The building seems to have been used for storage at some stage - there's a bricked-up opening under a protruding girder above the silver car. In the end, it was used as the school of midwifery.

Just out of shot on the left was the smaller entrance to the site. Opposite this building was a small area of grass and some trees.