Brief history of Clayton Hospital

Before the creation of the NHS in 1948 there were generally two types of hospitals; the workhouse hospital and the voluntary hospital. For those who were destitute, the workhouse hospital was the only option when they fell ill. However, the 18th-century saw the emergence of the voluntary hospital. Supported by donations and through money raised by subscriptions, voluntary hospitals aimed to help those who were unable to claim Poor Law relief but too poor to afford to pay for their own medical care. Those that could afford it, procured treatment in their own homes, attended by private physicians, surgeons or apothecaries.

Many hospitals like Clayton grew from smaller establishments known as dispensaries; these offered out-patient medical treatment within their own homes or within the dispensary – there were no hospital beds for 24-hour care. The provision of in-patient care was soon recognised and dispensaries evolved into voluntary hospitals.

The Wakefield General Dispensary was founded in 1787 and by 1854 had treated over 45,000 people. In 1857 the hospital became an in-patient hospital and in 1862 it was renamed ‘The Wakefield General Dispensary and Clayton Hospital’ in honour of its benefactor, Thomas Clayton.

The hospital was re-located to purpose built premises on the current site in between QEGS & WGHS. The new hospital was officially opened in 1879 with staff and patients moving in 1880.  The hospital was renamed Clayton Hospital in 1948.

Thomas Clayton, Former Mayor of Wakefield (1786-1868)
Thomas Clayton was one of the hospital's most important early benefactors. Clayton was born in Wakefield in 1786 and with his father was a tallow chandler on Northgate. It was not until 1848 that Thomas Clayton took a part in local affairs, becoming an Alderman, and then in 1854 was elected mayor. The same year he married for the first time at the age of 68 years. His wife was the sister of a leading Huddersfield Congregationalist and also known to be a supporter of the Huddersfield Infirmary. Under her influence, he became a regular chapel-goer and supporter of the Wakefield Dispensary and Infirmary. Clayton died in 1868 having donated £1,800, the equivalent of £210,000 in today’s money, to the Infirmary with a further annual legacy of £300, equivalent to £35,000 today, which continued to be paid until 1948. 

Timeline for the purchase of the former Clayton Hospital

  • January 2012 – Wakefield Grammar School Foundation (WGSF) first advised that the NHS were planning to sell the site in the next couple of years.
  • During 2014 and 2015 – Negotiations with the NHS and due diligence undertaken by WGSF.
  • December 2015 – agreement finally reached between NHS and WGSF for sale of Clayton Hospital site to WGSF (subject to planning).
  • Public consultation undertaken to gain feedback on 2 proposed development schemes.
  • During 2016 – preparation made to submit planning application including detailed discussions with Historic England and the conservation team.
  • June 2017 – planning application made to Wakefield Council to clear most of the buildings but retaining the tower and immediate buildings either side.
  • July 2017 – Outline planning permission granted with 34 planning conditions attached to the permission.
  • January 2018 – acquisition is completed and WGSF becomes the owner of the site.
  • During 2018 to date – work undertaken and submission made to Wakefield Council to discharge the conditions.