By far the longest-established of the City’s hospitals, The General Infirmary at Leeds dates back to October 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, close to where Leeds Market is today.
The General Infirmary’s first purpose-built home opened four years later 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 1869, which included a Winter Garden, designed on the advice of Miss Florence Nightingale by renowned architect Sir George Gilbert Scott, famed for St Pancras Station and London’s Albert Memorial.
The Infirmary building designed 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 central brick core of the building was extended in the 1890s and again in 1916.
In 1940 the Brotherton Wing opened, followed in 1961 by the Martin Wing. In 1984, the Clarendon Wing replaced the old Women’s and Children’s Hospital, being connected to the main site for many years by a long corridor on stilts.
Finally, in 1998 the newest wing linked up the different parts of the site and was named Jubilee Wing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Health Service.
Over the past 250 years the Infirmary has been at the forefront of the development of medicine and surgery in the UK, developing many techniques ranging from aseptic surgery and modern accident and emergency medicine to the UK’s first kidney transplant and the UK’s first hand transplant and first double hand transplant.