07 October 2015, Midlands

New exhibition about QEII Hospital brings half a century of healthcare history to life

A new exhibition - supported by Community Health Partnerships and Assemble Community Partnership Ltd - has been launched at Mill Green Mill and Museum to commemorate the QEII Hospital’s 52 years of service in Welwyn Garden City.

The New QEII Hospital, Welwyn Garden City

The official preview evening was attended by those involved in bringing the exhibition together, as well as supporters and local dignitaries, including the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, the Countess of Verulam.

Exploring the history of staff, patients and volunteers

Largely based on the new book ‘The QEII- A Hospital’s Story’ by local author, Angela Eserin, the exhibition explores the history of the QEII and the captivating memories of staff, patients and hospital volunteers.

Display items include hospital uniforms, photographs and other ephemera.  There’s even an early patient Christmas Menu, providing a glimpse of the special efforts made to make everyone feel at home.

Following eight years of development, the QEII opened in 1963 and was the first post-war all-purpose district NHS hospital. 

In the summer of 2015, the old hospital closed down as part of a planned centralisation of health services by East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust and the New QEII Hospital was opened. 

A new era of healthcare

This £30m modern healthcare facility provides a welcoming and sustainable place for local people to access an expansive range of services including a 24/7 Urgent Care Centre, outpatient services, a breast unit and therapy and rehabilitation care.

Cornerstone of community life

Tony Kingsbury, Executive Member for Policy and Culture at Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, says: “The QEII has been a cornerstone of community life for over half a century and this exhibition celebrates the unique position it occupies in local history.

"There are very few places that could hold such an eclectic bank of memories and that is what’s so fascinating about this exhibition; it really brings to life the human experience of the daily running of a community hospital.”

Dr Dennis Lewis, Founder President of the Friends of the Museums and the local heritage stalwart who recruited and led the “Queen Elizabeth II History” project, said: “I was very fortunate in recruiting a team that took up this challenge a year ago, and which has exceeded all expectations, even though my expectations were already high. 

"Our new Curator, Ellie Baumber, hit the road running and she has produced a superb exhibition – considering that she only joined us in June, she has produced a quality product. I urge everyone who remembers the QEII with pride to come to Mill Green to enjoy the exhibition.”

Dennis continues: “The book, ‘The QEII, A Hospital’s Story’, written by Angela Eserin and Vanessa Godfrey is a gem.

"It draws heavily on the memories of staff, volunteers and patients, all the way back to the hospital’s opening by the Queen in 1963, which brings the book to life. It is an easy read, and is richly endowed with evocative photographs.  It’s a story, vividly told; 72 pages for five quid - it’s a bargain!”

There’s also an opportunity for visitors to bring their own memories and share them via a QEII memory board.

The QEII has been a cornerstone of community life for over half a century and this exhibition celebrates the unique position it occupies in local history.

Tony Kingsbury, Executive Member for Policy and Culture at Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council