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Royal Alexandra Hospital

A Grade II Listed Building in Rhyl, Denbighshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.3266 / 53°19'35"N

Longitude: -3.4807 / 3°28'50"W

OS Eastings: 301481

OS Northings: 382102

OS Grid: SJ014821

Mapcode National: GBR 4Y4Z.76

Mapcode Global: WH653.HNR2

Entry Name: Royal Alexandra Hospital

Listing Date: 14 February 1994

Last Amended: 14 February 1994

Grade: II

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 14290

Building Class: Health and Welfare

Location: Occupies the block of land between Alexandra Road and Grosvenor Road, the entrance and administration block facing Marine Drive, the ward blocks facing Alexandra and Grosvenor Roads.

County: Denbighshire

Community: Rhyl (Y Rhyl)

Community: Rhyl

Built-Up Area: Rhyl

Traditional County: Flintshire

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History

The Royal Alexandra Hospital was built as a children’s hospital and convalescent home, and was a new building for an already-established institution. The first hospital had been opened in a building on East Parade in 1872, had taken over the former Baths building in 1873, and expanded piecemeal thereafter before acquiring a site for a new building. Funded by voluntary subscription, with financial assistance from Rhyl Urban District Council and the Duke of Westminster, the new hospital was designed by Alfred Waterhouse, architect of Manchester, and probably finished by his son, Paul Waterhouse. The west wing and central block are dated 1899 and 1900, and opened in 1902 - these are the work of Alfred Waterhouse. The east wing was completed 1908-10, and is possibly by Paul Waterhouse. The hospital’s siting on the sea-front and its plan - notable for the integral open balconies and verandahs of the west wing - reflected the importance then attached to fresh-air treatment. The chapel had originally been built for an earlier hospital building on another site in c1874 but was incorporated in Waterhouse’s plans from the outset. It was designed by John Douglas, architect of Chester.

Exterior

Brick with stone dressings and plain tiled roofs. The pavilion plan comprises central entrance and administration block with chapel projecting to rear (originally with warm sea-water bath in its basement), linked by short corridor ranges to the hospital and convalescent blocks to either side. These run at right angles to the administration block, enclosing courtyards to front and rear.

Entrance and administration block: two storeys with attic and basement; symmetrically planned, but asymmetrically detailed, with central entrance in shallow projecting storeyed porch. The original doorway is up steps (and is now concealed by a further single storeyed porch addition) with a banded mullioned window below corbelled eaves band in upper storey and hipped lean-to pavilion roof. Slightly advanced outer gables to each side of the block, with mullioned and transomed windows (of 4-lights in right-hand gable, grouped 1-2-1 to left). Brick diaper decoration in gable apexes. Similar asymmetrical disposition of windows to either side of central entrance, with 2-light mullioned and transomed windows to left, single light windows to the right. Plain stone cornice over the central section, lettered ‘Royal Alexandra Hospital 1900’. Asymmetrical rear elevation, with chapel offset to east of centre, mullioned and transomed windows of varying width and height to right, stair tower with gabled roof to its left. Ribbed axial stacks. Narrow corridor blocks (both raised in height, and the western corridor doubled in width) link the administration block to the ward blocks to either side. The 3-storeyed ward blocks are symmetrically planned, but differently detailed, reflecting both their different original functions, and also the different phases in which they were built.

West Wing: symmetrically planned in its N-S axis about a central 4-storeyed pavilion block. This taller block is a 3-window range, with 3 gables advanced from its main hipped roof. Transomed windows of 2 and 2 lights in outer gables, and 3-storey bay window to centre, with 4-light mullioned and transomed windows, and balustraded parapet. Raised diaper brick-work in gable apex; axial stacks between the gables, and louvred and tiled spirelet on main roof beyond. Central gable to rear (east) elevation, and circular corner turret. Arcaded ward ranges to either side, with 6-bay first floor arcaded balcony/loggia (now glazed in), and former open balcony also now enclosed above. Ground or basement storey has a range of segmentally arched windows. The ward wings terminate in paired pavilion towers at either end, built to house toilet blocks, etc, with narrow windows paired in each face. Four-bay balconies like those on the side elevations run between the towers to N and S. Sash windows (with renewed glazing) in NE elevation.

East Wing: Planned in similar fashion to the west wing, with 4-storeyed central pavilion block and wards running N and S of it, but distinguished from the western block by the absence of integral balconies in its long elevations. Like the west wing, the N elevation has arcaded 4-bay balconies clasped between towers, but the E elevation (partly obscured by the addition of a closed-in fire escape) has a 5-window range (originally with sashes, but the glazing renewed in original openings) to either side of central block. This has single central advanced gable, with shallow balcony clasped between canted oriel bay windows in upper storey; mullioned and transomed windows variously grouped, to basement, ground and attic storeys. Drawings prepared by Paul Waterhouse in 1902 show that this range was intended to have balconies projecting from its W elevation, but it is not known whether these were ever built.

Chapel: brick with stone dressings including quoins and bands, and plain tiled roof. Two-light windows to nave (5 in all), and high gable to chancel, clasped by canted apsidal bays to either side, with paired foiled lancet lights. High-set 3-light decorated window in gabled 'east’ wall.

Interior

Original layouts survive substantially intact throughout. Administration block has central entrance hall and spinal corridors on each floor. Main staircase to east at rear balanced by secondary stair to west, both with ornate cast-iron balustrades. In the wings, circulation space and offices, etc, are housed in the central pavilion blocks, with the wards occupying the width of the building to either side.

Chapel: richly decorated and detailed interior has timber arcades of three and a half bays to either side: elaborately chamfered posts with decorated panelled bands support braced arcade plates. In turn, these carry an openwork frieze of foiled panels, some of which are filled by sepia painted panels. They form a series, and one is dated 1922, in memory of Philip Yorke of Erddig. Similar detail to timber of open chancel screen. Two ‘western’ bays of nave have deep moulded panels to boarded ceiling - the rest of the chapel, including the chancel, has a deep coved section set into the centre line of the panelled ceiling. Aisles are lit indirectly by a single high-set dormer window to either side, and traceried lights aligned with these in the sides of the coved roof cast borrowed light into the nave. Reredos probably by Douglas: a painted and gilded crucifixion with accompanying angels and saints, canopied and contained in a frame of painted foiled wood panels. Stained glass: nave windows are all by Kempe with commemoration dates of 1876, 1886, 1892 and 1900. Glass in chancel windows is unsigned and dated, and is in a more medieval idiom.

Reasons for Listing

Listed as an excellent example of hospital building, by one of the leading architects in the field. The building represents a clear expression of the established orthodoxy of its period in its adoption of the pavilion plan; the massing of the building and the loose symmetry of its detail clearly articulate its functions, while its special purpose is stressed by the incorporation into the design of extensive integral balconies. The chapel, with its richly crafted interior, is a special feature of the building.

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