Friday, 06 August 2021

Townlands Hospital to be renamed

The new Townlands Hospital in Henley is set to be renamed in honour of the town’s old War Memorial Hospital

The new Townlands Hospital in Henley is set to be renamed in honour of the town’s old War Memorial Hospital.

Health chiefs have agreed to name the £10 million hospital the Townlands Memorial Hospital following calls from residents and campaigners.

The idea was first put forward by visitors to an exhibition to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War at the Old Fire Station Gallery in 2014.

Woodcote historian Mike Willoughby, who staged the exhibition as part of the Lest We Forget project, then raised the idea again following the completion of the hospital in March.

Mr Willoughby also started a petition to have the name changed which was signed by more than 1,000 people.

He was supported by John Green, chairman of the Henley and Peppard branch of the Royal British Legion, the branch’s standard bearer Brian Hughes, former Henley Mayor Elizabeth Hodgkin and the Rev Duncan Carter, the vicar at Holy Trinity Church, where a plaque has been installed in memory of the town’s fallen servicemen as part of the project.

The original hospital was officially opened on June 3, 1923 as a memorial to those who died in the war.

It was paid for with money raised from public subscriptions and cost £20,500.

It closed in 1983 and was then demolished and the land sold off.

Money from the sale was earmarked for the redevelopment of Townlands Hospital but this only began in 2014 — more than 30 years later — following a long campaign.

NHS Property Services, which owns lease on the hospital building, consulted Henley Town Council, which said it strongly supported renaming the facility.

Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the proposal in May, adding that there was strong community support for the change.

The Townlands Steering Group wrote to NHS Property Services to say its members had also voted unanimously in favour of the new name in July.

Mr Willoughby said: “I am thrilled that NHS Property Services has changed the name, this will mean so much to so many people in Henley.

“It is a very fitting way to remember those who died in the First World War and ensures their legacy, and the heritage of the old hospital, live on.”

Alasdair White, head of construction programme management at NHS Property Services, added: “We are pleased to be renaming the hospital in response to the strong local support for the change.

“The hospital’s new name honours the Fallen of the First World War as well as the heritage of both the hospitals that have served the Henley area since then.

“We will be updating the signage at the site and look forward to the official opening ceremony of Townlands Memorial Hospital in 2017.”

The new hospital already has a memorial board with the names of the town’s fallen soldiers on the first floor.

Signs with the hospital’s new name will be put up at the building next week.

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