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The Old Victoria Eye Hospital, Eign St


Ubique
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I think that the Eye Hospital moved to the County Hospital some 10+ years ago and for the last few years there had been a large advertising board outside the premises suggesting the the Retirement Building Company , McCarthy and Stone we're going to build retirement flats on the site after obtaining planning permission to knock the building down - appears that they have given up trying to obtain the required permission.
Drove past this morning , the McCathy and Stone board was down and a new one exhibited in its place stating that the building was For Sale . Appears that the building will remain empty for the foreseeable future.

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Hi Ubique.

 

The Victoria Eye Hospital was redeveloped into rather expensive apartments some years ago. They kept the original building, which is beautiful, but then squashed an awful lot of new build properties onto the site as well!

 

I think the building you are referring to is next door. I believe it is an old Health Authority building, which is now surplus to requirements. I think this site has been bought and sold quite a few times over the past few years.

 

Hope this helps.

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McCarthy and Stone have built a lot of retirement homes, on the plot around the corner next to Lord Scudamore school.

 

Between this development, and the ramming in of properties on the Eye Hospital site, Lord Scudamore school is quite literally surrounded!

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Oh dear I think the building to which you are referring is Victoria House in Eign Street  - a building I worked in for many years and which was the Health Authority Headquarters.  The original building was lovely, but its temporary extensions were just awful, so hot in summer and cold in winter and mostly falling apart. The grounds though were a haven for wild life.  We fed the birds amongst which were woodpeckers.  We also had foxes with their young and some semi-feral cats from the school behind.

 

On one occasion the staff from Victoria House had to stop the Eign Street traffic as a duck with her ducklings arrived outside and wanted to cross the road.  I gave up my tuna sandwiches to tempt her across the zebra crossing.  In the car park at “Vicky House†we put her and her ducklings into a box and took them down to the river Wye.

 

However, I remember that health and safety caught up with the old, beautiful chestnut tree at the entrance to Vicky House from which the local school children collected conkers.  Sadly, it was decided by the wise board of directors that the conkers were dangerous and the tree was cut completely cut down – a very sad day. 

 

It will be another sad day when/if the old bulding is demolished and that city green space for wildlife gone forever.

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Hello Growl!

 

I remember the horse chestnut tree.... it was a very sad day when that one came down. I never understood who actually made the decision for that....

 

It's a strange thing with this building, as I said I'm pretty sure it's been sold a few times.... but always ends up being back on the market.

 

I really enjoyed your reminiscing..... I'd give you a green press, but Colin has explained to me that without having my java enabled I can't at the moment!

 

When I get it sorted..... I'll return!

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I forgot to say that whilst working at Vicky House I came across some old ledgers from St Mary’s Hospital which until the early 1990s was a psychiatric hospital.  The ledgers showed that in the early days of the hospital the patients grew vegetables, fruit, apples for cider and reared livestock which was used for their own food and the surplus of which was sold on.  Everything in the ledgers was itemised from the cost of a pig going to market down to the last stamp on a letter.  Something about which the now politicians and council officers could take note of when completing their expense forms!

I sent the ledgers to the archive office and hope they are still there.

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The most recent planning application was by McCarthy & Stone for 'Erection of retirement living housing for the elderly, (category ll type accommodation), communal facilities, landscaping and car parking. It was refused in May 2012. 

 
English Heritage objected, citing the loss of a building of good quality (albeit neglected) would cause considerable harm to the significance of the conservation area (hmmm, Bath Street anyone?). They say Victoria House is an early twentieth century house showing the influence of the Domestic Revival.
 
Oddly, the Conservation Officer did not object, nor Hereford City Council, nor Hereford Civic Society, who merely cited the the lack of renewable energy as a missed opportunity. 
 
Ultimately it was refused as the applicants failed to make adequate provision for affordable housing. On that basis, it would seem that a future purchaser may well be able to demolish it, subject to satisfying that criteria (or prevailing legislation). Of course, there will be different councillors making the decision next time round ...
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Blimey Growl, now I am wandering down memory lane!

 

I remember St Marys Hospital really well.

 

We lived out that way, and as kids me and my brother would cycle to St Marys, wander around, make ourselves a drink in the little kitchens off the main corridor, and chat with the patients in the dayrooms, or in the grounds if it was warm enough!

 

This was late seventies early eighties, I would have been about eight or nine!

 

Our parents never knew, they would have given us both a good hiding! It was a great place to be when you wanted to "play out" but the weather was rotten.

 

I can't imagine that happening today.

 

(Apologies Ubique for wandering off!)

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Pleased you have happy memories of St Mary’s Dippy. It was in a charming setting.

 

At risk of showing my age I worked at St Mary’s for a short time in 1989.  A memorable moment was walking down the corridor towards the entrance when a female patient had a hissy fit, ripped a fire hydrant off the wall and threw it into the glass partition to the reception desk.  A very scary moment. 

 

When St Mary’s closed these people with complex psychological problems were simply absorbed into society. 

Apologies too for going off the Victoria House subject, but they were both NHS buildings, one of which has been demolished the other likely to be.  I wonder what happens to the money made from these sell offs of NHS land.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The case of the neglected Victoria House is an absolute disgrace (not least because the pathetic Hereford Civic Society, who should have lead the campaign, did nothing whatsoever to draw attention to its architectural importance).

 

Sadly (and Dippy will know the individuals concerned) the two main campaigners for the retention of this handsome building, which was originally built as the private residence of the Chielf Eye Surgeon of the next-door eye hospital, were the late Dave Benjamin and the late Julie Woodward. They came up with a very realistic scheme in which the house would become a Community Centre for the people of the old St Nicholas Ward. The grounds were to become organic allotments (known in Havana, Cuba as organoponicos - Google it) of which our very own Monty Donn is the leading UK advocate.

 

A sad story which looks destined to have an unhappy ending.

 

@Ubique: TWG will no doubt enlighten us, but I think the building is 'on the cusp' between Victorian and Edwardian. A handsome structure, well wothy of retention. But try telling that to the the numpties who've just been re-elected for another 4 years!

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  • 2 months later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Looking like someones in deep deep trouble over the trees around the development.
I think they have been cut down whilst Hereford City Council were arranging tree preservation orders.
Their obj letter

OBJECTION AND CHALLENGE There is no valid reason for the destruction of these trees – the security argument appears spurious. We are alarmed that this work has already been carried out which is a clear breach of the Tree Preservation Order. This matter should be investigated for possible prosecution as it seems prima facie that the law has been breached. There may also have been unlawful activity if nesting birds have been disturbed.

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