Aerial View, Greenbank Circa 1960

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Featured in the Plymouth Extra on the 15 May 2008.

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WMN/1/1/5/7 Aerial View, Greenbank, circa 1960

"Several generations of Plymothians will have no trouble at all identifying this location; indeed, it's not that difficult even for younger residents. However, much has changed since this intriguing areial shot was taken almost 50 years ago. Today we struggle to find any trace of Plymouth's two great hospitals, Greenbank and Freedom Fields, institutions which dominated Plymouth's health provision for much of the 20th Century. Greenbank (formerly the South Devon and East Cornwall Hospital, built in the 1880s), to the left of the shot, above Hospital Road, has given way entirely to housing, as has its later neighbour which grew out of the erstwhile Plymouth Workhouse (which had been built on the site in the 1850s).

This became the City Hospital after the Local Government Act of 1929 which allowed local authorities to run Poor Law institutions as hospitals; it was renamed Freedom Fields in 1951 in the wake of the National Health Act.

The following year saw a third floor added to the 1930s-built Greenbank Fire Station, although that building too has now gone; however, this time it wasn't housing but an all-new fire station that was built on the site. The fire station was originally built on a part of the old Plymouth prison, part of which was requisitioned at the same time for use as Plymouth Police HQ. In the event, the police moved out in 1976 and the site, used in the meantime for many years by the health service, is currently awaiting redevelopment.

Picture courtesy of the South West Image Bank (01752 665445) ref: WMN/1/1/5/7."

(Commentary by Chris Robinson)


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