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MRI Celebrates 100 Years on Oxford Road

Today marks the 100th anniversary of when Manchester Royal Infirmary moved from Piccadilly Gardens in the centre of Manchester to the present site on Oxford Road. The Manchester Royal Infirmary was established on 27th July 1752 in a small house in the centre of Manchester. In 1755 a new infirmary was built on the site of what we now know as Piccadilly Gardens. The new building cost £2,587. The new infirmary on this site expanded over the years with new wings being added. In 1902 a debate broke out as to whether or not to re-build a new hospital on the existing site or on a new site further out of town as the city centre was noisy and unhealthy. The plans for the new hospital were formally approved at a special meeting of the Trustees on 27th July 1904. By the end of 1905 the excavations and foundations had been completed and work was proceeding up to the level of the ground floor. By the end of 1906 there were 700 men at work on the new building and such excellent progress had been made that it was clear that the work would be completed to schedule and that the total cost would be £500,000. The new hospital had capacity for 600 beds. On 24th November 1908 The Board of Management met for the last time at the Piccadilly site – the Minutes end as follows: This being the last meeting of the Board of Management in the present building, as the removal of patients would take place on 1st December, the Chairman referred in feeling terms to the work of the Infirmary during the last 150 years and to the still greater sphere of usefulness which lay before it. Resolved, that the cordial thanks of the Board be given to Mr Cobbett for his services as Chairman and that the Board look forward to his occupying the chair of the New Infirmary for many years to come. On 1st December 1908 the great day arrived. The work of transferring the patients to the new building was carried out with ease and smoothness that won the admiration of the patients themselves and said much for the care with which the whole business had been planned. The number of patients had been reduced to a minimum. Still there were few short of a hundred to be conveyed from the old building to the new. The raw December morning with fog hanging all about the streets was not an ideal one for the purpose. There were five horse ambulances and Salford’s new motor ambulance in the use together with horse drawn carriages and taxis and the Infirmary’s own omnibus that usually transported convalescent patients to Cheadle. The patients, warmly wrapped up, were carried down the hospital steps on chairs and stretchers and placed in waiting vehicles. The journey took half an hour from bed to bed and there were doctors, nurses and hot drinks to welcome them to their new wards. When King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra formally opened the building on 6th July 1909 King Edward was so impressed with the new facilities that he knighted hospital Chairman William Cobbett on the spot. It seems a strange co-incidence that 100 years later we are planning moving patients from our other hospitals to the Oxford Road site! Issued by: Yvonne Davies, Head of Communications and PR Tel: 0161 276 8763 Notes/Highlights: The MRI has seen many developments and events over the years including: • During the First World War 520 beds were allocated to the war office. Over 10,000 soldiers were treated from 1914-1919. • During World War II the Infirmary continues to treat patients, often during bomb raids. It suffers two direct hits and many blasts which cause a lot of damage to the hospital. • 1968 – Renal Transplantation begins at the MRI, with the first transplant taking place on 22nd March. • April 1988 – The Manchester Diabetes Centre is opened, the first of its kind in the UK. • July 1992 – The Princess of Wales officially opens the new hospital development. • September 1997 – Prince Charles visits the Clinical Haematology Department. • October 1999 – The Queen visits the MRI as part of her visit to Greater Manchester to look at emergency services. • February 2000 – The Princess Royal visits the MRI to officially open our new Bereavement Centre.