Manchester Institution for Curing Diseases of the Eye
The founder of the institution now known as the Manchester Royal
Eye Hospital was William James Wilson. Born in Leeds, after
qualifying in medicine he was apprenticed to surgeons in Lancaster,
Chester and London, where he developed an interest in
ophthalmology. He became a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons
in 1813 and moved to Manchester to set up practice.
At the time, the only provider of eye surgery was the Manchester
Infirmary, and the surgeon best-known locally for his eye expertise
had recently died. The precedent of specialist eye hospitals had
been set elsewhere, with institutions in London, Exeter and Bristol
already in existence for a few years.
Wilson canvassed local opinion, and having gained support,
arranged an inaugural meeting at which the supporters gath
Premises were now needed, and one of the supporters of the
Institution owned a house "near the top of King Street" which had
some spare rooms. These were rented for the sum of £25 per annum,
and the Manchester Eye Institution was open for business. Financial
support was provided firstly by annual subscription from those who
would become Governors and Trustees, and secondly from donations.
The history of the Eye Institution's first decades would be a story
of constant striving for enough funds to support an organisation
which became immediately popular amongst patients, the cooperative
societies and workhouses who often funded them. A 'collector' was
appointed, whose task it was to ensure that the subscriptions were
collected and accounted for. This was a full-time occupation,
mostly on horseback.ered to declare open the Manchester Institution
for Curing Diseases of the Eye. The meeting was held on Trafalgar
Day, October 21st 1814, the 9th anniversary of the famous battle.
The inaugural announcement was published: