The Royal Alexandra Hospital, Rhyl

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Link to French translationThe Royal Alexandra Hospital

Look up to see the weather vane depicting a fox in full flight! In 1898 the Duke of Westminster promised £10,000 towards the building fund of this hospital if his horse, “Flying Fox”, won his next race at Sandown Park.  His horse won and a telegram was sent to the matron with the words: “The ten will be sent.”

The hospital originated in 1872, when Archdeacon and Mrs Ffoulkes converted a house on East Parade into a convalescent home for sick and needy children. As demand for places grew, the Baths Hotel (on the sands opposite the top of Bath Street) was bought and became the Children’s Hospital and Convalescent Home. A ward was named after Mr and Mrs Ffoulkes’ only child, Gertrude, who died aged 12 in 1876 – see the Footnotes below.

In 1882 Princess Alexandra of Wales became a patron of the hospital and it was named The Royal Alexandra Hospital.

The need for more space and accommodation once again became necessary and this new site was acquired.The building was designed by Alfred Waterhouse RA. It was estimated to cost £60,000, which was raised by voluntary subscription. In 1902 Prince George and Princess Mary came to Rhyl to perform the opening ceremony.

The many balconies (now filled in) on the building were an integral part of the “fresh air treatment” favoured by medical practitioners of the day. There was also a warm seawater Hydrotherapy pool and a Sun Treatment room. From 1908, some of the nurses lived in a house near the hospital which was bought in memory of Edith Vizard, the hospital's superintendent for 35 years.

The Royal Alexandra Hospital eventually became a general hospital.  In 1980 a new district hospital, Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, was built in Bodelwyddan, 8km away. The RAH then became home to a geriatric unit and community wards led by General Practitioners (family doctors). In 2009 the wards were closed although out-patient, physiotherapy, X-ray and administration departments are still housed here.

A new hospital is planned for this site although the façade and the chapel will be preserved.

With thanks to Ruth Pritchard, of Rhyl History Club

Postcode: LL18 3AS    View Location Map

Footnotes: More about Gertrude Ffoulkes

Gertrude Ffoulkes was born in St Asaph, where her father, the Rev Henry Powell Ffoulkes, was Canon Residentiary. She spent at least some her childhood in Montgomery (now in Powys), where her father was Archdeacon. Mr and Mrs Ffoulkes were relatively old (49 and 40 respectively) when she was born. Gertrude died aged 12 of “inflammation of the bowels”.  To commemorate her, some of the family’s friends raised money for a new children’s ward, which opened in 1877 in what was soon to become the Royal Alexandra Hospital. The name was later transferred to the new hospital, and in 1900 Mrs Ffoulkes, then a widow, donated £240 for the ward’s furnishing.

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