Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT) was formed in 1998, bringing together two smaller hospital trusts under a single management and direction for the first time. Whilst our hospitals are part of a modern, forward-looking institution, their roots stretch back almost 250 years.
They have a distinguished history which mirrors the evolution and expansion of the city of Leeds itself and their proud tradition of care, clinical expertise and innovation continues to the present day.
Leeds General Infirmary
By far the longest-established of the city’s hospitals, The General Infirmary at Leeds (to use its formal title) dates back to June 1767 when an Infirmary “for the relief of the sick and hurt poor within this parish” was set up in a private house in Kirkgate.
The General Infirmary’s first purpose-built home opened in 1771 close to City Square and that small building began a process of almost continual expansion to try and keep pace with the growth of the township of Leeds during the Industrial Revolution. This culminated in a move to an impressive new site on Great George Street in 1868.
The Infirmary building designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott remains one of the great Victorian icons of Leeds but over the years it has burst out of its original boundaries with the addition of a multitude of new wings in often wildly divergent architectural styles.
The most modern wing, Jubilee, opened in 1998 and took its name from celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the National Health Service.
St James's University Hospital
The growth of Leeds in the early 19th century brought a huge increase in an underclass of destitute figures who existed in appalling conditions on the margins of society. This troubled many local worthies, and in the 1840s the area of Burmantofts - then in open countryside - was selected to be home to the city’s workhouse.
A network of buildings sprung up, starting with the Moral and Industrial Training School in 1848 (now part of Lincoln Wing) followed in close order by the Workhouse and Chapel, and in 1874 the Poor Law Infirmary, which looked after inmates too ill or feeble to work. This building was renamed St James’s Hospital in 1925, and over time the stigma of its original purpose faded from memory.
By the early 1970s St James’s had transformed itself into a University Hospital on a par with its rival across the city, and during that decade the site was transformed with three new wings which saw it vastly expanded in size to become reputedly the largest teaching hospital in Europe.
The confident new St James’s is personified by the Bexley Wing, a state-of-the-art cancer centre which replaced the Victorian-era Cookridge Hospital and opened in 2008.
Chapel Allerton Hospital
The trauma of the First World War hit Leeds hard but resulted in at least one positive legacy for the people of the city - the establishment of Chapel Allerton Hospital, originally run by the Ministry of Pensions to meet the needs of thousands of limbless service personnel who suffered grievous wounds in the trenches.
Originally based in the stately mansion of Gledhow Grange, the hospital kept its original role under the National Health Service but began to expand and change from the 1950s onwards, when it opened up to other types of patients.
A new wing called Newton Green was established in the 1970s away from the old site, and in the early 1990s a new Chapel Allerton Hospital was built alongside Newton Green, with the former buildings being sold off and mainly transformed into housing.
Infectious diseases were the scourge of British towns and cities during the Industrial Revolution, when insanitary conditions and rudimentary healthcare led to extremely high mortality rates. As early as 1802, a House of Recovery for people with infectious diseases is known to have existed on Vicar Lane, later moving to Beckett Street.
A more organised approach to disease by the city fathers led to the acquisition of what was a remote site in the east of Leeds, where Seacroft Hospital was opened in 1904 and originally served as a purpose-built infectious diseases hospital for the city. The unusually large size of the site and its rather curious layout, with ward blocks located well away from each other separated by long corridors, is explained by this past use.
After the Second World War, medical advances lessened the need for so many infectious disease beds, and the use of the hospital gradually changed. In more recent times a number of modern buildings have been concentrated on a core of the hospital site.
Like St James’s, Wharfedale Hospital’s origins lie in the establishment of a local workhouse for the market town of Otley and the surrounding area, originally set up in 1873.
An infirmary with 70 beds was added in 1907 and was administered by the Wharfedale Board of Guardians until 1930. After 1938 it was known as Otley County Hospital and later became Wharfedale General Hospital.