THE hospital’s history has been recorded for posterity.

And that’s all thanks to the former staff who have been willing to share their stories and a project team which has brought them all together.

Undergraduate students Jasmine Moran, Jessie Foreman and Sam Woodward from Essex University’s history department, led by lecturer Dr Alix Green, have masterminded gathering material over the past few months as the hospital prepares to close down.

They have been sponsored by Colchester Medical Society and the Colchester League of Hospital and Community Friends.

Anecdotes from former staff have also been gathered.

Dr Green said: “While the main Georgian building would be preserved, we needed to take the opportunity to capture the stories and memories of the people who worked, or visited or were cared for there, before they were lost.

“Too often important places close and there’s no time or space given to recognising what they meant to people.

“We wanted to make sure this closure was marked, even as all the clinical services carried on in Turner Road.”

Masters students Deb Wiltshire and Kyle Cameron-Symes set up the blog and started the digitisation of photographs, plans and clippings.

It is hoped this digital archive will remain available for anyone to access and that it will grow as people contribute their photographs to the collection.

During an open day at the hospital in June people were invited to take along objects or photographs connected in some significant way to their experience of the hospital, whether staff or patients.

A History Harvest Stall had university staff and students on hand to photograph or scan these memorabilia.

Those who took the items were then invited to record short interviews.


After the event these mini oral histories were stored as part of the Colchester Recalled oral history project and it is hoped they will made available later for the public. Dr Green said: “At our History Harvest stall we scanned over 300 objects and photographs brought in over the course of the day by people with a connection to the hospital and recorded over 35 oral history interviews.

“The recordings give us the opportunity to hear personal stories of Essex County.

“The earliest memories are those of Beryl Rose, who qualified as a nurse in 1942 at Essex County Hospital and worked there throughout the Second World War.

“She describes her experience of bombs being dropped in Lexden, rationing in the hospital and the camaraderie of the nurses’ home. The history feels alive as we listen to her tell the story in her own voice.

“These recordings have been lodged with the Colchester Recalled oral history project so they won’t be lost now the hospital has finally closed its doors.

“Researchers interested in local and family history may find these stories valuable and we

also hope they will be used in schools, at the university and by history societies to discover this fascinating aspect of Colchester’s past.”

Dr Green said there had also been interest in their collections from a major nationwide project on the NHS at 70, which is focusing on Essex next summer.

He said: “We hope to work with them so the stories of Essex County Hospital we’ve collected can contribute to our understanding of the history of healthcare in the UK.

“We’re still able to add to these invaluable collections, so if anyone is interested in sharing their story, please do get in touch.”

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