The history of hospitals in Liverpool is one of constant change and renewal. The building photographed here was the third Northern – the first opening in 1834 in Leeds Street. The influx of Irish immigrants into the area soon put it under pressure and the badly overcrowded hospital was replaced by a new hospital in Great Howard Street (the site of the old Pig Market) in 1844. (The architect was Edward Welch – whose best known building is Birmingham Town Hall).
The opening coincided with another huge influx of Irish escaping famine. 90,000 entered Liverpol in the first three months of 1846 alone and 300,000 in the following twelve months. No town in England was so densely populated and unhealthy and, again, the hospital struugled to cope. Finally, in 1902, a new hospital opened on a site bounded by Old Hall Street, Bath Street, Sutton Street and Brook Street. The architect was CW Harvey – an outsider much to the annoyance of local architects. The closure of the Northern in 1978 brought to an end nearly 150 years of medical care for the impoverished neighbourhoods of Vauxhall and surrounding areas.
One tragic story was the murder of a young nurse, Alice Jones. An American soldier, Joseph Hutty, had enlisted in The Canadian Expeditionary Force, and had been admitted to the Northern suffering from shell-shock. He became infatuated with Nurse Jones but, rejected by her, shot her dead outside the hospital entrance. He was found guilty but the jury recommended mercy on the grounds of his acute mental condition. Sentenced to death, Hutty was finally reprieved after a petition signed by the Lord Mayor amongst others persuaded the Home Secretary to commute the sentence.

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