The Massereene Hospital in Antrim

 

The Massereene Hospital in Antrim was originally built as a workhouse. It was constructed as part of the Antrim Poor Law Union, formed on 13th May 1840. There were in total 28 Poor Law Unions in the area now covered by Northern Ireland, all dating from between 1838 and 1948, when the Poor Law was finally abolished and the welfare state was established.

 

The hospital was located on Station Road in Antrim, close to the town centre and marked as Railway Street in the map below.

 

Massereene Hospital Site

Map of the site of the Massereene Hospital in the early 1960s.

 

The photograph below shows the hospital as it appeared in the early 20th Century. The Gatehouse is at the left and the main hospital building is behind it at the right of the picture.

 

Massereene Hospital

Massereene Hospital, photographed early in the 20th century. The Entrance Block is at the left and the main hospital building is at the right.

 

The architect was George Wilkinson (1814–1890). As a workhouse, it followed one of Wilkinson's standard designs. The entrance building at the east served both as an administrative block and as a reception area. It contained a porter's room and waiting room at the centre, while the Guardians' board room was located on the first floor above.

 

The main hospital building is set well back from the entrance building, and consists of a long 14 or 15-bay central section (hard to see exactly how many bays there were) of two storeys flanked by taller three-storey 2-bay gable-topped end blocks. Behind it there were utility rooms, such as a bakehouse, a laundry, refectory and a chapel. There was also a burial ground to the rear of the hospital.

 

Massereene Gatehouse

The Entrance Block as it exists today, looking attractive in the wide garden around it. It is now used as a clinic and offices by local social services.

 

The Hospital in the 1960s

The Hospital buildings as they appeared in the 1960s. Note the way the twin gable-topped block that was at the right of the main building has vanished and has been replaced by modern 1960s style extension blocks.

 

In 1921, following the partition of Ireland, the workhouse became Massereene District Hospital, and so it remained untill and beyond 1948 when it became part of the newly established National Health Service.The hospital closed in 1995 and was demolished to make way for a Tesco store, built in 2003. The view behind the entrance block can be seen below.

 

Massereene Tesco

The Tesco with its huge carpark that stands on the site of the original hospital buildings. Just to the left of the photograph can be seen the surviving Fever Hospital.

 

 

Sources:

The information in this article is indebted to the work of Peter Higginbotham through his website http://www.workhouses.org.uk