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Sanderson Hospital Gosforth

Northumbria Archive Sanderson Hospital for Discovering Heriage

Our thanks to Northumberland Archives for the use of this photograph

Residents of Gosforth will remember this building as the Sanderson Hospital. At the time of writing this building has been demolished and the site is being developed for housing.

Lok Developments, part of Newcastle-based property, construction and development firm Morton Group, has completed a £17million refinancing deal for its luxury property scheme on the site of the former Sanderson Hospital in Gosforth.

Building Christmas Traditions

In the following post we look at two different eras of the Sanderson Hospital during their Christmas festivities and share the traditions that developed over the years of Christmas celebrations.

Sanderson Hospital A Brief History

By the time the first of these two articles was published in the Morpeth Herald, the Sanderson Home for Destitute and Crippled Children had been operating in Gosforth for nineteen years. Having outgrown its two previous sites firstly at Whickham in 1888 and then Red House in Wallsend in 1889 the hospital was opened by Mrs Hilton Philipson on 30 September 1897. 

In June 1914 the hospital was extended to include five classrooms adapted for open-air teaching, a girls dormitory an isolation hospital and workshops. The extension was designed by Messrs.’ Newcombe and Newcombe architects of Newcastle. These improvements cost six thousand pounds, and funds were raised with the help of local philanthropists. A notable contribution of two thousand three hundred pounds came from one lady named Francis Ochiltree.



Christmas 1916

“Outside the picturesque Crippled Children’s Home at Gosforth on Christmas Day was bleakness itself, but inside everything was merry and bright.”

The tragedy of the war does not sadden destitute children, and the consequence was an ability to enter whole-heartedly into the joyous programme that the matron, Miss Hasler, her staff, the committee, and others had provided for the ninety little inmates of this noble institution. There was carol singing on Christmas Eve, a substantial Christmas dinner, and the many etceteras on Christmas afternoon, with a merry party at night. 

The sight of the little cripples in the prettily-decorated rooms of the Home, both at dinner and after the crackers bad been exploded and the tiny tots had become adorned in the coloured paper clothing which the crackers provided, was good to behold, while the shouts of delight that rang over the dinner table after each fresh cracker surprise and other novelties were wholesome to hear. 

So generous had been Mr. W. J- Sanderson, the chairman, and his good lady and many others, that the youngsters seemed to be stinted for nothing. There were turkeys and roast beef and plum pudding for dinner, and no end of cakes, fruit, sweets, and other gifts later.

Many of these good things had been brought to the institution bv a veritable Santa Claus, who had dressed for the part. He was laden with presents and filled stockings with lavish hands. During the day and night a variety of games were indulged in. Amongst the visitors during the day was the new vicar of All Saints’, Mr. Kennedy. 

Fri 29 December 1916 Morpeth Herald


In September 1938 the hospital offered 134 beds.

The original aim of the Sanderson Hospital was to care for children who could not be placed in the workhouse because of their physical handicap.

The hospital had several name changes during its lifetime

  • 1897 The WJ Sanderson Home for Destitute and Crippled Children
  • 1929 – WJ Sanderson Home for Crippled Children
  • 1934 – WJ Sanderson Orthopaedic Hospital and School for Children
  • 1950 – Sanderson Orthopaedic Hospital
  • 1964 – Sanderson Hospital

In 1934 the hospital began to look after adults as well as children. It continued to be run as an independent institution; this situation continued until the introduction of the National Health Act of 1947. 

“Increasingly, the hospital became known for the work done in the field of orthopaedic surgery and in the treatment of physical handicaps in children caused by dietary deficiency.”

This excerpt from 1937 illustrates a different Christmas and set of challenges faced by the hospital.


Gosforth Scarlet Fever Threat to Festivities Christmas 1937

Owing to an outbreak of scarlet fever in an institution at Gosforth the Christmas celebrations had to be considerably curtailed. Otherwise, the advent of Christmastide was recognized with the usual good cheer and enthusiasm. Inmates of the W. J. Sanderson Orthopaedic Hospital School for Children entered upon a week of sumptuous festivity on Christmas Eve, when Father Christmas distributed gifts. 

The gay decorations of the wards were enhanced by the glitter of three big Christmas trees. Christmas Day brought the annual dinner, donations to which were again forthcoming from many sympathizers. There was a further distribution of gifts on this occasion both for nurses and patients, including Mr A. W. White’s (member of the committee) annual presents of packages of sweets. 

To-morrow the yearly Mary Vittery Stephens’ Christmas-Tree celebrations take place. A Nativity play enacted in the chapel by girls of the Diocesan Home of Mercy, Gosforth, preceded hanging-up of stockings on Christmas Eve, and the annual Christmas Day dinner. Games, a sketch, and charades were among the festivities, and a huge Christmas cake was cut. 

28 December 1937 Newcastle Journal


WJ Sanderson Orthopaedic Hospital and School for Children 1938

Britain from Above image of Sanderson Hospital as it looked in

The Sanderson Hospital was responsible for setting other traditions as this comment left on our post – Militant Attack on the Globe Cinema Gosforth illustrates.

“loved going to the Royalty cinema when I was a kid, spent several years in the Sanderson Hospital, there was an old lady that came into Sanderson Hospital at the weekends with a film projector so that the children could watch cartoons and the old black and white comedies like Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy, she was a kind woman.”

If you are an avid follower of this site you may have already been introduced to Robert Whitfield Falconer?

In February 1917 The Newcastle Daily Journal carried a story titled

Crippled Children’s Home

Tribute To The Gosforth Institution

The article was published seven months after Robert died during the World War 1.

It begins…

“The following interesting account for the Home for Crippled Children, Gosforth, was written by Lieutenant R.W. Falconer, who was killed in action whilst leading his men at the storming of German trenches in July last:-“

The Original article published in 1917

“When the old way of seeing was displaced, a hollowness came into architecture. Our buildings show a constant effort to fill that void, to recapture that sense of life which was once to be found in any house or shed. Yet the sense of place is not to be recovered through any attitude, device, or style, but through the principles of pattern, spirit, and context.” – Jonathan Hale, The Old Way of Seeing, 1994”― Jonathan Hale, The Old Way of Seeing: How Architecture Lost Its Magic – And How to Get It Back


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