St. John’s Hospital on Fell Lane closed on 9th August 1970, its remaining patients transferring to the newly opened Airedale General Hospital. These photographs were taken by Jack Cawood around that time.
The hospital on Fell Lane that became St. John’s Hospital was founded as the Keighley Union Workhouse Infirmary in 1868. It was built originally to serve the Keighley Poor Law Union. It became known as Fell Lane Infirmary and served as an Auxiliary War Hospital during the First World War, housing 185 servicemen’s beds and treating 1,052 military cases. It moved on to specialise in maternity and geriatric cases.
According to Ian Dewhirst, writing in the Keighley News of 31st May 2002: “Early twentieth-century additions included convalescent, infirm and female imbecile blocks, phthisis pavilions to accommodate consumptives, and steam cooking apparatus. Nevertheless, a report of 1930, after its acquisition by the County, thought its atmosphere was “rather that of a Poor Law Institution than that of a modern hospital,” its Nurses’ Home of 1927 being considered its most satisfactory feature.”
The hospital was the subject of an exchange in Parliament on 1st April 1963. Sir Marcus Worsley, MP for Keighley from 1959 to 1964, asked Lord Bernard Braine, Parliamentary Secretary to the Department of Health, if he knew how long the huts, then being used as geriatric wards at the hospital, were expected to last given they had been built as temporary provision during the Second World War. He was told they would have to suffice until the building of the new district general hospital (which arrived seven years later).
St. John’s Hospital closed down in August 1970, and it was demolished three years later and the area is now occupied by housing.
Jackie Earle (August 2022): “The photos were taken by my dad, Jack Cawood. He worked at the Victoria Hospital, and then he moved to Airedale when that opened. He loved taking photos. My parents both worked at Victoria Hospital. My dad was a van driver delivering to all the different hospitals (Victoria, St. John’s, Menston, Morton Banks etc.).”
The original photographs were donated to Keighley and District Local History Society in 2022 by Jackie Earle.