Friday 20 August 2021

Barnsley Beckett Hospital Endowed Beds

Beckett Hospital (from an old postcard which was on Ebay)

Location of the hospital near St Mary's church in Barnsley Town centre. 

1968 map showing Beckett Hospital and St Mary's Church (from Old Maps)

During the First World War the endowment of beds at Beckett Hospital was proposed as a suitable way of commemorating the sacrifices made by Barnsley people. Colonel Hewitt suggested that each town or village get together and raise money for a bed and its upkeep for the future (estimated to be about £1,000 per bed). The beds would be known by the name of the place which contributed the money.  This suggestion was only taken up in a very limited way. The cost of a stone tablet, cross or obelisk, or a bronze plaque listing the names of the fallen was generally much less than £1,000, and had the added attraction of giving the bereaved a focus, in their local church or village open space, for their mourning, especially in the absence of a grave for men buried overseas.

A report in the Barnsley Chronicle on 9 August 1924 summarised the endowments to that date. 

Barnsley Chronicle, 9 August 1924

Eight of the beds listed above are war memorials because they commemorate men who served or were killed in the war, or in the name of peace. Two more beds (that we know of) were endowed as memorials later.  Each of these beds were endowed at a cost of at least £1,000.

  1. Second Lieutenant Joseph Spencer Mitchell, R.F.C. (1918)
  2. Barnsley Brewery, 'in memory of local men' (1918)
  3. Ladies Peace Bed (1918) - 20 local ladies contributed 
  4. Heroes Bed (1918) - funds raised by general donations
  5. Wireless Operator Frederick Arthur Ormston Guest, R.N.R. (1918)
  6. Barnsley British Co-operative Society, 'in memory of fallen comrades' (1919)
  7. Barnsley British Co-operative Society, second bed as above (1919)
  8. Captain George Alfred Guest Hewitt, 1/5th York & Lancaster (1920)
  9. Dennis Bayley Fund (1925)
  10. Lieutenant William Kelsey, R.F.A (1929)
The Dennis Bayley Fund Bed, a memorial to the sacrifices made by workers of the Order of St John and the British Red Cross Society, is the only endowed bed for which the dedication plaque survives. Follow the link above for a photograph and more details. 

There is a newspaper cutting reporting the Co-op's gift here, along with more on the Dennis Bayley Fund.

Four of the beds were endowed in the names of individual men. 

Joseph S Mitchell's bed was presented by his parents, Colonel and Mrs T.W.H. Mitchell on Thursday 14th March 1918. It was the first bed at Beckett Hospital to be endowed in perpetuity. A brass plaque declared, 

Presented and endowed by Colonel and Mrs T.W.H. Mitchell in memory of their son Second-Lieutenant Joseph Spencer Mitchell,  Royal Flying Corps, who died of wounds accidentally received when flying in France, October 5th 1916

(Barnsley Independent, 16 March 1918, p. 8) 

Frank Guest's bed was dedicated by Canon Hervey on Friday 10th March 1919. The donors were Mr C.F. Guest and Mrs Guest in memory of their son, Frank A.O. Guest, aged 20, Wireless Operator, who died at Salonica. 

(Yorkshire Post & Leeds Intelligencer, 12 March 1919, p. 8)

George Hewitt's bed was endowed by his parents, Sir Joseph and Lady Hewitt of Ouslethwaite Hall, in February 1920, 'in memory of their son who fell in the war'.

(Sheffield Evening Telegraph, 14 February 1920, p. 5)  

William Kelsey's bed was endowed by a £1,500 legacy left by the late Mrs Clara Jane Kelsey, in memory of her son, Lieutenant William Kelsey,  R.F.A., who was wounded in Mametz Wood, France, and who died on 24 September 1916. This bed made a total of 22 endowed beds at Beckett Hospital according to Mr E. Tune, Chairman of the Hospital Governors.

(Sheffield Independent, 5 June 1929, p. 7) 

If anyone knows of the whereabouts of the dedication plaques for any of these beds (besides the Dennis Bayley one which is on display in Barnsley Hospital) please do get in touch, photographs would gratefully accepted for our records, and of course all correct acknowledgements would be made if permission was given for the images to be used online or in published research.  

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