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Unit History: CMH Aldershot

CMH Aldershot
The Cambridge Military Hospital (CMH) was the fifth military hospital built in Aldershot. 
 
The CMH was built by Messrs Martin Wells and Co. of Aldershot. The building costs were approximately £45,758.
 
The first patients admitted to the CMH were on Friday 18 July 1879. They either walked or were taken by cart ambulance from the Connaught Hospital.
 
The title had nothing to do with the Cambridge area but came from His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge who was the Commander-in-Chief of the Army at the time. The Duke of Cambridge opened the CMH Aldershot in July 1879.
 
The hospital was built on a hill because current clinical thinking at the time thought that the wind would sweep away any infection and clean the air.
 
The Cambridge Military Hospital was the first British Military Hospital to open a plastic surgery unit. This was opened by Captain Gillies. He had been in France on leave in June 1915 and met the surgeon Hippolyte Morestin and watched him perform facial reconstructions on patients with cancer. He learnt from the surgeon and brought his experience and new knowledge to England and was soon operating on soldiers back from the Battle of the Somme of World War One with facial gunshot and shrapnel wounds and injuries.
 
An architectural and distinguishing feature of the Cambridge Military Hospital was the clock tower. There were three bells in the clock tower, one large bell and two smaller bells.
The larger bell had a twin. They were known as the Sebastopol bells. The other of the pair is at Windsor Castle. These bells were captured from the Russians during the Crimea War.
 
The Cambridge Military Hospital closed down on the 2 February 1996. Many factors were given as the reason for its closure. This includes the restructuring of a more mobile army needing to train and utilise their nurses for front line treatments in field hospitals. Soldiers brought back to the UK could easily be treated in civilian hospitals.
 
Another reason for the closure of the CMH was because it was an old historic building that cost too much to maintain and repair. For example asbestos was found in the walls and the ceilings and was expensive to safely remove. The upper floor was unable to be used for patient care because of fire health and safety. This reduced the bed capacity of the hospital.
 
Other health and safety issues involved the kitchens that needed upgrading and the water supply throughout the hospital often had a yellow tinge from running through cast iron pipes.
 
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