In the nineteenth century medical help for the poor was limited to the workhouse, private benefactors or philanthropic bodies. In 1860, due to the public-spirited action of Rev. E. J. Treffry, Rev. J. Kemp and Major Davis, leading inhabitants of Fowey, a rent free cottage in Webb Street was provided and a small hospital was set up. This was only the third Cottage Hospital in England and Dr. A.A. Davis its first medical officer. The hospital admitted patients with severe injuries, concussion and/or broken limbs that were incurred in the shipping, farming or railway industries.
The hospital accommodation became inadequate very quickly and new premises were found at Colwyn House, 21, North Street, with another branch at the Fowey Consols Mine. Funding, always a problem, was provided by subscriptions, numerous fund raising events and payment by employers, especially ship-owners. The hospital was staffed by a nurse and a servant, who were paid only when required. Dr. Davis gave his time freely unless he could claim payment from the patient’s employer. To help minimize costs, ‘respectable families kindly supplied dinner daily’.
It became obvious that commercial, noisy North Street was not an ideal position for a hospital and a site in Green Lane on high ground with fresh air was donated by Charles Treffry. The first patients were admitted and the new hospital was completed by 1914. Substantial donations and gifts allowed facilities for ‘in and out’ patients, an operating theatre, X-Ray, dentistry and maternity care. Today it is an NHS community hospital with a minor injuries unit.
Research: Hilda Marshall-Johnson
Sources: West Briton 24 August 1860, 28 June 1861 26 October 1873; R.M.S. McConaghey, The Evolution of the Cottage Hospital; The Trustees, Fowey Cottage Hospital, a brief record and an appeal.