Sourhall Smallpox Hospital

Article Taken from the Bacup Times 1901


Situated at the foot of Flower Scarr Hill above Todmorden Edge, on one side and Dulesgate on the other. It is about 3.5 miles from Bacup and 1 mile from Todmorden by the nearest path. It is a substantial stone-built structure, two storeys in height, and practically surrounded on all sides by moorland. It was formerly a mill, but a score or more years ago, (1880) it was purchased for the purpose for which it is now used and is now the joint property of the Bacup and Todmorden Corporation.


A public house, a farmhouse and outbuildings, and a few cottages are all that kept it company.


The south side of the block was used as the hospital and the north side comprised three cottages.

The upper room of the hospital is divided longitudinally into two wards, one for the males and the other for the females. All the rooms are completely isolated from each other. On the ground floor are two convalescent wards, and a bathroom. The walls of the room are whitewashed and are in a spotlessly clean condition.

From the time of leaving their own homes in either Bacup or Todmorden, up to the time of their return, the patient’s welfare and comfort are considered in every detail.


The ambulance which conveys them to the hospital is filled with all the modern appliances and heated with hot water bottles.

Smallpox is a disease which calls for care and attention, more than medicine, the principal object being to keep up the patient’s strength and to reduce the temperature.


The period of confinement in the infected wards is determined by the seriousness of the attack, and after all danger has passed, the patient is transferred to the convalescent wards on the ground floor. These are well supplied with newspapers, periodicals and various kinds of games.


The patient during the worst stages of the disease are sometimes visited by their own medical me.  

There are no resident doctors at the hospital, but both Mr. and Mrs Gibbs (Master and Matron) are fully qualified nurses.

There are at this moment nine Bacup townspeople confined within its walls. For a period of ten years, Sourhall Hospital, so far as Bacup is concerned, has been practically free of inmates.


In Feb & Mar of 1893 some 5 or 6 cases of smallpox were removed from the vicinity of Irwell Street, and since then, only one case, we believe, has been taken from this district.


At the present time therefore when the disease has again broken out in our midst, it but follows that the public eye should be turned with some amount of interest to the building on the moors, where those afflicted are isolated from contact with their kinsmen without.