After years of planning and months of building work, a major refurbishment of Swanage Hospital including a new therapeutic garden for patients has been unveiled.
Friends of Swanage Hospital, who funded the £1.2m work from donations and fundraising events, invited residents, former staff and the Swanage Mayor to view the impressive new facilities.
Accessible via a new lift
The garden, designed by Simon Goldsack from Holmes Gardens in conjunction with staff and the friend’s group, is accessible from the hospital ward via a new lift.
There’s also a wide level path and a summer house, where patients can sit and admire the garden whatever the weather.
The garden is being maintained by volunteer gardener and Swanage resident, David George. He said:
“When I first volunteered at the hospital, I was thinking I’d be spending time with patients but I was asked to take care of the garden – it’s really lovely and I’m enjoying keeping it as beautiful as it is.”
Stained glass windows
One of the unusual aspects of the garden are the stained glass windows. They are an original feature dating from when the hospital was first opened in 1895. Sue Whitton, who used to be a nursing sister at the hospital explained:
“They’re beautiful old windows and were originally in the old mortuary. When it was pulled down about 30 years ago, I threatened to tie myself to the windows to stop them chucking them out!
“It’s fantastic they’ve survived in storage for all those years and now they look perfect in the new garden.”
The new staff facilities
The new meeting room
Accommodation for relatives
Extensive building work
As well as the garden, there’s been extensive building work and an unused basement area of the hospital now houses a meeting room, a staff room and accommodation for relatives of patients receiving end-of-life care.
The Friends of Swanage Hospital committee members with the mayor. Left to right: Kate Spurling, Deidre Selwyn, Gerry Norris, Jan Turnbull, Avril Harris, Peter Smith and Sue Whitton
“First class hospital with first class facilities“
Chair of Friends of Swanage Hospital, Jan Turnbull said:
“I’m delighted to have been able to show off the garden and the new rooms to local residents and it’s lovely how appreciative they’ve all been.
“It’s all down to the wonderful legacies and donations from people in Swanage, that has made it all possible, so we’re really grateful.
“We know how important Swanage Hospital is to the community and we now have a first class hospital with first class facilities.
“The next step is to ensure we maintain this vital service including retaining the minor injuries unit as a walk-in service to safeguard the health of everyone in Swanage and the surrounding area.”
Chair of Friends of Swanage Hospital, Jan Turnbull and Swanage Town Mayor Avril Harris
“Long history of magnificent support for the hospital“
Praising the work of the Friends of Swanage Hospital, Swanage Town Mayor Avril Harris said:
“Swanage Hospital and the minor injuries unit provides an essential service for our residents and the Friends of Swanage Hospital deserve to be heartily congratulated in building new facilities for patients, staff and relatives, as well as a beautiful garden to enhance everyone’s wellbeing.
“There’s a long history of magnificent support for the hospital from our community and this is just the latest example – improving the lives of staff and residents. Long may that continue!”
History of the garden
Aerial view of Swanage Hospital in 1970s showing a tennis court on the site where the new garden is today
The Everest building, which was the maternity hospital, is demolished
The site is cleared ready to start the work to create a garden and a car park
The garden starts to take shape in 2020
The completed therapeutic garden in September 2021