Acomb Hospital

Identity area

Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

Acomb Hospital

Parallel form(s) of name

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

  • York Maternity Hospital, 1922-1954
  • Acomb Maternity Hospital, 1922-1954
  • Acomb Geriatric Hospital, 1954-1976

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence



Acomb Hospital was housed in a former private house called Acomb Hall, which was acquired by York Corporation and officially opened as a maternity hospital on 19 December 1922, replacing the first York Maternity Hospital 1908-1922 run by York Dispensary at 15 Ogleforth. The establishment of the new hospital at Acomb was a joint venture between York Corporation and York Dispensary. Equipment from the old York Dispensary Maternity Hospital plus a capital sum of money were contributed by the Dispensary Directors, while the Corporation was responsible for the conversion work and all running costs. For the first fifteen years the hospital was run by a joint committee of representatives from the Corporation and the Dispensary. Thereafter, the Corporation assumed full control.

The hospital was principally located in the former Hall, but some other buildings in the grounds were also utilised. One of these was initially used as a nurses home, but the latter was moved to rented premises at West Bank, Acomb in 1946. The Hall had been bought with a large estate, much of which was subsequently sold off, but there was still sufficient land to allow for a plan to build a new 75 bedded maternity unit in the mid 1940s. This scheme was abandoned due to contemporary economic difficulties.

Initially there were 30 beds, plus 2 isolation beds and 6 cots for sick infants. In 1946 the new annexe increased bed numbers to 42, plus 2 for isolation. Bed numbers fluctuated between 42 and 50 in the period 1946-1953, and this was generally acknowledged to be an inadequate number for the city's needs.

Most patients were York residents, but a few patients were from areas just outside the city boundaries. After 1948 patients were from the catchment area of York 'A' Group Hospital Management Committee.

There was an almost continuous rise in admissions during the life of the maternity hospital. Although only 234 in-patients were admitted in 1923, numbers thereafter rose sharply to 289 in 1924, 342 in 1925 and 452 in 1928. After a brief period of levelling out another significant rise followed, to 531 in 1934, 592 in 1935, and 667 in 1936. During the late 1930s and early 1940s between 600 and 700 in-patients were admitted annually, and after the annexe came into operation in 1946, levels of annual admissions rose to between approximately 850 and 1000 in-patients during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Numbers peaked at 1098 during the year April 1953 to March 1954, when the closure of Hazlewood Maternity Hospital put extra pressure on resources. However, by that date plans to transfer to the larger Fulford Maternity Hospital were well developed. Figures for admissions reflect the fact that by this time a higher proportion of births took place in institutions rather than at home. In the late 1940s and early 1950s about 60% of births in York were institutional (private nursing homes between them providing a further 30 or so maternity beds) and around 40% were domiciliary.

The hospital also ran a domiciliary maternity service. This had initially been set up by York Dispensary in the 1890s, and had been continued by York Dispensary Maternity Hospital after 1908. Approximately 100 outdoor district cases were treated annually in the years 1923 to 1925 and during the early 1930s there were between about 120 and 150 cases each year. This service was both superseded and expanded by the municipal maternity service established under the 1936 Midwives Act.

Because the hospital was located in a suburb of York, the domiciliary visiting staff and ante-natal clinics had retained their previous central location in the York Dispensary premises in Duncombe Place. Although ante-natal clinics were also initially held at the hospital, attendances were small (eg 218 attendances at the hospital clinic in 1928 compared with 1378 at the clinic at Duncombe Place). More popular was a baby clinic established at the hospital in 1928, with about 1000 attendances each year. From 1929 all ante-natal clinics were held at Duncombe Place. In 1932 the Corporation took over the Infants Welfare Centre in St Saviourgate, (formerly run by the voluntary York Infants Welfare Association) and thereafter all clinics dealing with mothers and infants were centralised using both the St Saviourgate and the Duncombe Place premises.

The hospital continued the work of its predecessor in training pupil midwives. About a dozen midwives were trained each year in the 1920s, rising to about 20 each year in the 1930s and around 30 each year in the 1940s and early 1950s. Midwifery pupils gained experience of both hospital practice and domiciliary cases and this arrangement continued after 1948 when maternity services were divided between the NHS (which had responsibility for hospitals) and the local authority (which was responsible for domiciliary services).

Premature Babies were first admitted to the hospital in 1946, and a special staff for the Premature Baby Unit was appointed in 1947. In 1948 an Emergency Obstetric and Blood Transfusion Service (‘Flying Squad’), which was available for domiciliary confinements on request, was based at the hospital.

The hospital closed on 25 October 1954 when services were transferred to the much larger Fulford Maternity Hospital.

However, the building, renamed Acomb Hospital, reopened as a geriatric hospital on 25 November 1954. This had 40 beds. There was an initial plan to expand this number to 70, but in the event refurbishment and the provision of extra facilities left room for only 44 beds.

Acomb Hospital was run in conjunction with St Mary’s Hospital and Bungalow Hospital as a geriatric unit. Acomb was used mainly for convalescent and long stay ambulant patients. An occupational therapy centre was provided in 1958. Although the hospital was considerably upgraded between 1954 and 1976, it remained far from ideal (for example without a lift).

The hospital was closed on 29 October 1976 and was demolished in the late 1980s. Acomb Gables Community Unit for the Elderly is built on part of the site.


Legal status

Functions, occupations and activities

Mandates/sources of authority

Internal structures/genealogy

General context

Relationships area

Related entity

York A Group Hospital Management Committee (1948-1974)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship


Type of relationship

Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

Related entity

York Dispensary (1788-1948)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship


Type of relationship

York Dispensary is the predecessor of Acomb Hospital

Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

Access points area


Control area

Authority record identifier

Institution identifier

GB 193

Rules and/or conventions used

ISAAR(CPF): International Standard Archival Authority Record for Corporate Bodies, Persons and Families, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2003); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion




K. A. Webb, 'From County Hospital to NHS Trust: The history and archives of NHS hospitals, services and management in York, 1740-2000' (York, 2001)

Maintenance notes

Created by Sally-Anne Shearn, July 2015.
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