The future of Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital has been uncertain from the 1940’s, due to the extensive damage caused by the war and changes in hospital medicine. But anyone walking around the building in the post-war years might think, with some degree of confusion, that rather than having an uncertain future, the place was getting busier and busier.
In many ways this is the feeling we had as we walked around the wards of the decommissioned hospital, except that much of the busy-ness we perceive exists as bits of history, or stories people have told us, or memories of the times when we have visited the hospital ourselves as patients. In overlaying these incidents on the empty corridors, it was as if the hospital was still occupied. Sometimes we would hear a door bang behind us, and we would look back to see a nurse disappearing around the corner, perhaps having returned for something left behind, or possibly returning to the Phlebotomy Department, which remains open. But just as strong is the feeling that because a nurse has gone through that same door countless times before, the echo of it will always be there, whether or not the staff and services of the hospital have relocated.
A walk through an empty hospital will always be charged with the stories that have played out there, and we have tried to suggest a few of these stories. Our main concern, however, was to give you space to unlock your own memories.
Photo credit: Alan van Wijgerden