The Wokingham Memorial Clinic
DescriptionIn 1920 the Wokingham Red Cross Committee discussed setting up a clinic in Wokingham to treat children who were of school age with skeletal deformities. After considerable discussion with local doctors, nurses, town councillors and the County Medical Officer of Health, an orthopaedic clinic was opened on October 9th 1920 in two rooms in Wokingham Town Hall. The 28th V.A.D. (Voluntary Aid Detachment) was responsible for the running of the clinic.
The clinic justified its existence over and over again. It brought the treatment to the doors of people with long standing disabilities, who were encouraged to persevere despite the slowness of the improvement. Soon the rooms at the Town Hall proved to be too small with little privacy for patients and no waiting area, so that patients often had to wait outside in the road.
It was decided to set up a Wokingham Memorial (orthopaedic) Clinic in memory of those who gave their lives in the Great War, 1914-1918.
The premises chosen to accommodate the orthopaedic clinic was a chapel originally built by the Primitive Methodists in 1856 on Denmark Street. They added a small annex to the chapel in 1902 to accommodate the Sunday school. With their demise the building was let to the Salvation Army who used it until they moved to the Gospel Hall in Sturges Road where they are still located. The hall was closed in 1920 and fell into disuse. This annex is now the only part left of the original building still standing.
The building was selected and paid for by the people of Wokingham who wanted their memorial to help the living with medical knowledge gained from injuries suffered during fighting while commemorating those who died.
The chapel was purchased and the work required to adapt the hall was carried out by men of the town who, after completing their day’s work, gave their leisure hours to the completion of the alterations required. The majority of the fittings to the interior of the building were gifts from tradesmen. The clinic was officially opened in April 17th 1923 by the Marchioness of Downshire.
The Red Cross had rent-free use of the building, in recognition of the service they had given during the war and were still giving. Orthopaedic work continued there until 1981 when it transferred to better equipped facilities at Wokingham Hospital.
Today the Red Cross centre on Denmark St. is still used by volunteers to provide short-term loans of medical equipment, such as wheelchairs for people with a disability or illness.
The Memorial has a plaque with the following inscription:-
"THE WOKINGHAM MEMORIAL CLINIC
THE PEOPLE OF WOKINGHAM HAVE GIVEN THIS BUILDING TO BE USED AS AN ORTHOPAEDIC CLINIC IN MEMORY F THE MEN WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE GREAT WAR OF 1914 – 1918 AND IN THANKFULNESS TO ALMIGHTY GOD FOR THOSE WHO CAME BACK IN SAFETY CONFIDENT THAT THE MEMORY OF THEIR SERVICE AND SACRIFICE CAN BEST BE HONOURED IN THE FIGHT AGAINST DISEASE AND DEFORMITY."
SourceInformation obtained from Jim Bell and Ann Jeater, ex-Red Cross and author of "The British Red Cross in Berkshire 1907 to 2007" booklet.
“The Wokingham Memorial Clinic,” Wokingham's Virtual Museum, accessed September 22, 2020, https://wokingham-tc.gov.uk/museum/document/WTH0596.