Whilst I was undertaking research into my Family History, I ascertained that my great great great grandmother Harriet Speed had died at the "Public Dispensary"

Speed, Harriet (Widow, age 56). Died at Public Dispensary; Buried on December 23, 1885 in Consecrated ground;
    Grave Number 12412, Section X of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.

I was rather mystified as to the location of the Dispensary but the only information I could find came from the following extract from the Sheffield Red Book of 1898. I also realised that there was very little either on-line or in print about the hospital which I remember quite clearly from my childhood and adolescence.

The following description is taken from the Sheffield Red Book 1898

"This institution was established in 1832 simply as a dispensary; but in order to provide accommodation for in-patients liberal subscriptions were given in 1857-8-9, and the building was remodelled and enlarged, accommodation being provided for 61 in-patients. In 1868 the building was again enlarged and the number of beds being increased to 105. The hospital is open to sick and lame persons of every nation, and there are separate wards for children. His Grace the Duke of Norfolk is the president; Sir F. T. Mappin, Bart., M.P., and Sir H Stevenson, vice-presidents; Mr. G. F. Lockwood, chairman of the board;  Mr. Philip K. Wake, treasurer; Dr. W. Dyson, Dr. H. J Branson, W. S. Porter, Dr. W. R. Thomas, and Dr. S.Roberts, consulting physician Dr. H. J. Hunter, Dr. Keeling, and Mr. G. K.Thorpe, consulting surgeons; Dr. Waterhouse, consulting surgeon-accoucheur; Dr. Duncan Burgess, Dr. Arthur Hall, and Dr. Crochley Clapham, physicians; Mr. R-,J. Pye-Smith,,1), Dr Sinclair White, and Mr.H. Lockwood, surgeons. A dental department was opened in 1896, and dental patients are seen every morning from 9 to to 10 o'clock. The dental officers are Mr. C. Stokes, Mr. R. C. H. Drabble, Mr. J. L. Pike, Mr. W.B. Tolputt, Mr. F. G. Mordaunt, and Mr. J. S. Allen. Mr. A. Young is the house surgeon; Mr. H. Hallam and Mr. T. Priestley, assistant house surgeons~ Mr. W. H. Lee, house physician; Mr. G. M. Tomlinson, dispenser; Miss Stibbard, matron; Mr. J. W. Robinson, secretary; office, The Royal Hospital (Westfield Terrace entrance).

The late Mr. Bernard Wake on accepting the office of treasurer, in 1882, undertook to maintain a bed at his own cost. Thus was instituted the first ,' endowed bed," and this worthy example has been followed by several other benevolent friends of the charity. Each endowed bed requires an annual subscription of £31 10s., and anyone may have the use of a bed for a year for patients of his own nomination by payment of that subscription.

The demands upon the resources of the institution having completely outgrown its capability, the Board of Management decided to provide enlarged accommodation. Donations had been made at various times in aid of anew building. and under the will of the late Miss Ray the hospital became entitled to a legacy amounting to between £10,000 and £11,000. Mr.Bernard Wake generously offered to give sum sufficient to build the out-patients' department, this being roughly estimated something over £6,000; and the Town Trustees made a grant Of £5,000 in aid the building fund. In these circumstances it was decided to erect a Hospital well appointed and of ample capacity, and which should be in every respect worthy of the city. Adjacent property was purchased, making the total area available site of the new hospital over an acre in extent. In 1893, plans and elevation by Mr. Charles Hadfield, architect, were adopted, and the building of patients' department was begun.

It was evident, however, that the project in its entirety could not be carried without much additional capital. A bold appeal to the public, therefore issued for a round sum of £50,000, that amount being required for the building apart from furnishing. A public meeting, presided over by the president, his grace the Duke of Norfolk, was held in July, 18(4, at which the claims of the hospital were forcibly and ably set forth by the noble Duke and other gentlemen . At that meeting and afterwards donations flowed steadily in, but at the time of going to press with the Red Book " a sum of about £17,000 was still needed to complete the entire scheme.

On the 11th May 1895, the first portion of the new hospital was formally opened by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of York, and on
September , patients were received in it. Her Royal Highness afterwards laid the foundation stone of what will be known as the "Nurses' Home," whose front is towards Eldon-street. The home was occupied early in 1897. The administrative block, which will form a considerable portion of the main facade ie building in West-street, is now in course of construction. This block contain the principal entrance, secretary's office, elevator for patients, kitchens, &c."

The 1908 Sheffield Guide adds some additional information on the origins and growth of the hospital

In 1828 a ” Self-supporting Dispensary ” was first established in Sheffield. In an account of the "Sheffield Public Hospital and Dispensary" by that authority on "Old Sheffield" the late Mr. Arthur Jackson, published in 1894, no mention is made of the situation of this institution ; but in 1832 a reconstituted "Dispensary" was established in Tudor Place. These premises soon proving inadequate, a private house was purchased in West Street and converted into more or less suitable quarters.

Here the work of a Dispensary, without beds, was carried on until 1857, when it was proposed to add to it a hospital . Mainly through the exertions of the late Dr. J. C. Hall this was effected, and the "Public Hospital and Dispensary" with 61 beds, was opened in 1860. It was further enlarged and re-opened, with 105 beds, in 1870.

In 1890 it was decided to entirely rebuild the Hospital, the late Mr. Bernard Wake assisting the project very actively. The first instalment, including the Out-patient Department and some new wards, was opened, and the foundation stone of a Nurse’s House laid, in 1895, by their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of York, now Prince and Princess of Wales. It was on this occasion that the title of the hospital was changed to the "Sheffield Royal Hospital." 

The completion of the re-building scheme only awaits the attainment of sufficient funds to carry it out. an appeal for which is now before the Public."

The title "Royal Hospital" was given by the command of Queen Victoria. The hospital was gradually expanded over the next few years. In 1900, the hospital board completed the purchase of all the frontage between Westfield Terrace and Eldon Street. Two years later, a central block containing five wards was opened. The old demolition of the old dispensary was completed in 1906. In 1908, the last remaining shops facing West Street were demolished and construction started on new buildings that were completed four years later in 1912.

The First World War meant that further work on the hospital was suspended. However two of the new wards were used for wounded combatants before they reverted to civilian use in 1919.

1922 saw the purchase of the Mount Zion Chapel on Westfield Terrace which was converted to an Outpatients Department for £9,000. It was formally opened in 1927 by the future Prime Minister Mr Neville Chamberlain 


The two postcards, the latter taken in 1906 show a fine late Victorian building but post-war advances in health and medicine meant that the Hospital was becoming more and more outdated. When the decision was made to build a new hospital further West Street - Glossop Road, the end was in sight for the hospital. Services were gradually transferred to the new Hallamshire Hospital and in 1978, the building was demolished. 

From The Sheffield Star dated Saturday 14th October 1978

I am not at all sure if proper consideration was given to alternative usage but I should imagine that the costs of conversion would far outweigh the costs associated with demolition. The only section that still remains is the frontage of the Mount Zion Chapel (the former outpatients entrance) on Westfield Terrace which had  listed status.

The demolition of the hospital - the Zion chapel is to the rear of the hospital

This photograph is further up Eldon Street. Apart from the demolition it also shows a Gas Lamp!

After demolition and clearance of the site, it was used as a rather shoddy N.C.P car-park for more than twenty years. Quite why this happened I cannot say. For such a large area of land in one of Sheffield City Centre main streets to remain derelict and to be quite frank an eye-sore for so long is mystifying to say the least. However the turn of the twenty-first century saw the site transformed into the usual bland non-descript private development of shops, bars and apartments much favoured by the planers and politicians in Sheffield.


1908 Sheffield Guide

Extract taken from 1898 (Sheffield Red Book) Courtesy Eric Youle

A Popular History of Sheffield - J Edward Vickers

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