Infirmary Barracks: Edward Bamford VC, Norman Finch VC
On the other side of this wall and over the road is the site of the former Infirmary Barracks (completed and opened in 1900). This is now a housing estate. Only a small section of the original Gladstone Road perimeter wall of the Infirmary Barracks remains.
Street names on this new estate, however, include Bamford Way named after Captain Edward Bamford VC, DSO, RMLI and Finch Mews named after Sergeant Norman Finch VC. Both of these men received their Victoria Cross by ballot of the 4th Battalion Royal Marines for their gallant actions during the St George’s Day 1918 Zeebrugge Raid.
The Royal Marines Infirmary
By Bug/Major JC Puddle 1994
The Royal Marines Infirmary in Blenheim Road was completed and opened in 1900, when the old Royal Naval Hospital was renamed East Barracks, and handed over for conversion into normal barrack accommodation. An account of the building of the Infirmary was given in the Globe and Laurel dated the 24th March 1901: -
“The very handsome new hospital, situated in Blenheim Road, was completed and opened last autumn. The wards, kitchens and general arrangements are all of the very latest pattern, and a most complete steam laundry, capable of doing washing for the whole of the Barracks as well as the hospital has just been added. The hospital has accommodation for about 105 patients, of whom 21 can be received on the zymotic side and 84 in the general wards. As soon as the new hospital was taken over, the old hospital, renamed the ‘East barracks,’ was handed over to the Works Department for conversion into barrack rooms. These rooms will be ready for occupation about 1st April, and will give accommodation for about 350 extra men”.
The Infirmary, as well as catering for the patients within the barracks was, also designed to cope with the needs of Royal Navy Ships that were based in Dover at that time. It continued in this role for many years, being considerably modernised and improved over the years, and was said to be one of the best-equipped hospitals within the area for many years. Eventually, as the need for them became less and less, the old zymotic wards were converted into schoolrooms. Other buildings were converted and utilised for various uses, including stores and at one stage, Musical Higher Training took over one of the buildings.
When the barracks ceased to be the Depot R.M.. And the numbers within the barracks were reduced, it was decided that there was little or no need for the barracks to have its own hospital and laundry, so inevitably it closed, was sold off and demolished in the mid 1980’s. Within what seemed like only a couple of months, a completely new housing estate was built, named ‘Marine Mews’ after its connection with the barracks.
Trail Directions: Turn to your left and walk along the inside of the perimeter wall, noticing the headstones as you pass.