Our timeline

We have a long history of health and care services in Torbay and South Devon. We’ve been capturing some of our key milestones on a timeline that’s adorning the wall of one of our main corridors at Torbay Hospital.

This short video gives a glimpse of the historical milestones that are captured in the display:

You can see the full timeline on the level 4 link corridor at Torbay Hospital.

Photo: Our historical timeline corridor at Torbay Hospital
Photo: Our historical timeline corridor at Torbay Hospital

Alternatively, please see the online version of our history below.

Have we missed a milestone or not got something quite right? Let us know

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Timeline

1844

1844

Torbay Hospital Provident Dispensary and Eye Infirmary was founded in three rooms in Union Street, Torquay. Prior to this the only free medical care available locally was at Newton Abbot workhouse.

1850

1850

Sir Lawrence Palk and his brother, Lord Haldon, donated a site on Higher Union Street to become the first Torbay Hospital. The foundation stone for the new hospital was laid in 1850 and the building finished in 1853.

Photo: 1850 Higher Union Street

The hospital was established as a voluntary hospital which meant that it was provided and maintained by voluntary funds. Local people either paid a weekly contribution as a member or paid an entrance fee when they were admitted (and then became a weekly paying member).

1871

1871

The first hospital in Dawlish opened.

Photo: 1871 Dawlish Community Hospital

1873

1873

The first hospital in Newton Abbot opened.

1891

1891

Paignton Community Hospital was built thanks to donations from the Singer family. In 2015, following a public consultation, the hospital became a health and wellbeing centre.

The first hospital in Brixham also opened.

1894

1894

Dartmouth and Kingswear Community Hospital was built.

1899

1899

Ashburton and Buckfastleigh Community Hospital opened. Like Paignton, it became a health and wellbeing centre in 2015.

Photo: 1899 Ashburton and Buckfastleigh Community Hospital

1900

1900

Opening of Moretonhampstead Hospital. The hospital is now managed by Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Photo: 1900 Moretonhampstead Community Hospital

1909

1909

We welcomed the first nursing students to Torbay Hospital.

1911

1911

The first hospital in Bovey Tracey opened. The most recent site then opened in 1932.

Photo: 1911 Bovey Tracey Hospital

1922

11 January 1922

Insulin was first used to treat a person with diabetes. The following year it was to be produced on a mass scale.

1925

25 June 1925

Ella Rowcroft wrote to the President of the Torbay Hospital Committee offering £100,000 to build a new hospital on a site donated by Major Kitson. The site was Hengrave House which was surrounded by 15 acres of land.

1926

23 June 1926

Photo: 23 June 1926 Foundation stone for Torbay Hospital, laid by Ella Rowcroft

The foundation stone of Torbay Hospital was laid by Ella Rowcroft. Miss Violet Wills, Ella’s sister, contributed £13,000 which funded the radiotherapy department.

Photo: 2016 90th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone

The 90th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone.
Sir Richard Ibbotson (Chairman), Ian Handford (Torbay Civic Society) and Monica Bulman (who was one of the longest serving nurses in the country)

1928

1928

Brixham Community Hospital opened on its current site. There has been a hospital in Brixham since 1891.

Photo: Brixham Community Hospital

1928

September 1928

September 1928, penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming.

1928

17 November 1928

The official opening of Torbay Hospital was held! The celebration event included a ceremony by Lord Mildmay of Flete, Lord Lieutenant of the County of Devon. Over 2,000 representatives from the professional, commercial and social life of Torbay were in attendance, though Ella Rowcroft was unable to attend herself due to ill health.

Photo: 1928 Hengrave House Torbay Hospital

Photo: 1928 Torbay Hospital's Rose Garden

Photo: 1928 Torbay Hospital operating theatre

Photo: 1928 Torbay Hospital's Ainslie ward

Photo: 1928 Torbay Hospital's nurse lecture room

Photo: 1928 Torbay Hospital's Dispensary

Photo: 1928 Torbay Hospital kitchen

Photo: 1928 Torbay Hospital Outpaitents waiting room

1930

29 May 1930

His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, (the future Edward VIII), visited Torbay Hospital.

Photo: 1930 His Royal Higness, The Prince of Wales visited Torbay Hospital

1930

12 August 1930

On 12 August 1930, the Chapel at Torbay Hospital was opened and dedicated by the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Exeter.

Ella Rowcroft specified that £6,000 of her generous donation should be allocated to the building of the Chapel and stained-glass window. She also donated a chalice and paten which is on display in the level 4 main entrance of Torbay Hospital.

Photo: 1930 Chalice and paten donated by Ella Rowcroft

Today, we aim to offer spiritual support for all. In additional to the Chapel, we also have a Multi-Faith Prayer Room at Torbay Hospital and ‘The Sanctuary’ at Newton Abbot Community Hospital.

Photo: The Chapel

1931

1931

Some of the clinical staff at Torbay Hospital.

Photo: 1931 Clinical staff sitting on a balcony by some of the ward

1936

1936

Torbay Hospital nurses including Matron Miss Turner.

Photo: 1936 Torbay Hospital nurses including Matron Miss Turner

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