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Paddock & Royds Hall History

The enormous casualty rates in the Great War were horrific – 8 million soldiers died and 20 million were wounded. 22 million civilians were also killed or wounded.

For the British forces in Flanders, field hospitals coped with all military casualties, kept the worst cases and transported the rest back to ‘Blighty’.

How was Royds Hall and its surrounding community affected? Some of the men were taken to Military Hospitals speedily built in England; An acknowledgement by some brought to Huddersfield was put in their first annual compilation of articles of their magazine: - “To our fellow townsmen, who by a fine example of self-sacrifice and patriotism erected this hospital, without any cost whatever to the War Office, being the first in the kingdom to set this generous precedent’

After money had been raised by public subscription (the average worker’s wage was £100 a year), the hospital was built and equipped at a cost of £32,000. The nurses and doctors lived in Joseph Crosland’s mansion; prefabricated wards were built on the front field and round the garden by the local firm of Radcliffes at no profit. It was originally opened in 1915 by Mayor Blamires and his wife who received a golden key from the builders.

Specially converted ambulance trains brought the injured to Huddersfield Railway Station and then ambulances took the men up to Royds Hall. A soldier wrote:

“There’s a Hospital in Yorkshire, 

Royds Hall it is by name;

No matter what’s the regiment

The welcome‘s just the same”.

At first there were 500 beds but, such was the huge scale of casualties at the Front. Outwards were later made at Gledholt and St. James’s Road, Marsh Sunday Schools and from two classrooms at Paddock Council School. By July 1916 there were 2000 beds as more auxiliary hospitals opened at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, Kirkburton Volunteer Aid Detachment Hospital, Holmfirth, Shepley, Honley, Meltham, Lightridge House, Boothroyd Hospital and Spring Hall Halifax.

22,000 cases were treated before the hospital closed in 1919. Sadly, 75 died (albeit the lowest death rate in Military Hospitals in England) and were placed in the mortuary (the long brick building on the edge of the allotments) before being buried.

One of these was one of five Canadians – Private Shearman. He had taken a degree in Vancouver and volunteered out of “the sheer sense of duty and patriotism” to fight in Europe. His body was taken up Luck Lane, through Marsh to Edgerton Cemetery, preceded by a firing party. The Military Band from Halifax played the funeral airs and a very large body of patients from Royds Hall Military Hospital followed. On his gravestone it says: 

“It matters not how long we live but what kind of life we live”

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The population around Royds Hall was greatly affected by the presence of the wounded soldiers who could be seen, when convalescing, walking in Paddock in the ‘Hospital Blues’ uniforms. In the summer, a wall along each ward which was made of a softer material could be rolled up and the men enjoyed the sun. Some even tended small gardens outside.

Local families served these men in several ways – by visiting them and taking small presents, giving open air concert parties to them, inviting them into their homes for a meal and evening entertainment, putting on recreation at their Paddock Conservative Hall and above all hosting visiting relatives in their homes (despite being on low wages and rations themselves). Some soldiers, once sufficiently recovered, were billeted on local residents until fit for return to service.

Nurses were often volunteers and nearby people were used for staffing the hospital in a variety of capacities – cleaners, laundresses, caterers, etc.

The community was, therefore, very involved in the functioning of the hospital and in the maintenance of morale there. The mansion and local area were both of service together.

In 1917, the Corporation released land owned by the Housing Department to be used for allotments to help with the chronic food shortage. The sloping land to the north of Royds Hall drive did not have wards on for the Hospital so it was divided up into plots of 200 square yards each and Paddock people have cultivated them to this day for vegetables and fruit. 

In 1919, many of the wards were converted into temporary houses.

In the 1920s the southern part of the estate was built on for Corporation housing, e.g.: Victory Avenue (named after the World War 1 victory). This provided low rental, mainly semi-detached housing.

Geoff Lumb notes that in 1920 the mansion was acquired by Messrs. Clayton & Co. (Huddersfield) Ltd. (because of its rapid growth in the Karrier vehicle business) to secure accommodation for 50 workers for the increased number of operators.


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