Healthcare in Victorian Farnham

In the 19th century, if you needed a major operation, you would probably have to go on the train to Guildford, which was the nearest hospital.

St Johns Ambulance was started in the early 1880s. In its early days, patients were conveyed on a hand cart.

Later they acquired a horse drawn ambulance but it was still a bumpy journey.

On one occasion, an ambulance took 3 hours to reach Guildford in the snow.

The town’s General Practitioners bore much of the burden of the day to day emergencies.  Accidents were often recorded in detail in the Farnham Herald.

Following the opening of the Workhouse Infirmary, conditions gradually improved for patients, especially after the arrival of the new medical officer, Dr Charles Tanner

Map of Farnham Hospital 1900's


Farnham Workhouse site 1900's


By 1916 the Farnham Workhouse site was being developed......with the additions of two more blocks.

The New Infirmary

The central portion of the new Infirmary was 3 stories high and the wings had 2 floors.

Entering from the south, visitors were faced with a teak staircase with carved balustrades.  Behind the stairs was an operating room.

To the left of the entrance was the superintendent nurse’s room.

To the right of the hall, was the nurse’s dining room.

The second and third floors of the central block were taken up with bedrooms for eight nurses, a sitting room and box rooms.

The side wings were reserved for patients, one side for men and the other for women.  One the women’s side there was an extra block reached by a glazed gallery and containing a labour and lying in ward.

Each ward had accommodation for 18 beds and a kitchen attached where beef tea and such like comforts could be readily prepared.

The laundry was fitted with labour saving devices – a steam mangle and disinfecting chambers.

In 1930 the hospital came under the control of the County Councils and the Infirmary became Farnham County Hospital or the ‘County” as it was more generally known.

The old workhouse building was demolished in 1971 to make way for the new laundry