Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Calls to rename Townlands

FRESH calls have been made for the name of Henley’s old War Memorial Hospital to be included in the new Townlands development

FRESH calls have been made for the name of Henley’s old War Memorial Hospital to be included in the new Townlands development.

Suggestions include Townlands Memorial Hospital or the Henley War Memorial Hospital instead of the Townlands Community Hospital.

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, has raised the idea again following the completion of the £10 million hospital, which opened last month.

He is 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.

Mr Willoughby said renaming Townlands would “appease” people who still felt resentment over the sale of the old hospital site in War Memorial Place. It’s not just my feelings, it’s the feelings of the people,” he said. “It has always been a bone of contention where the money went because Henley people raised the money for the hospital in the first place. The money from the sale was just absorbed into the NHS.

“Through the Lest We Forget project. I have done a lot of research into the War Memorial Hospital and just think this would be an extremely appropriate thing to do.

“It was a lovely hospital and most long-term Henley residents have had some dealing with it.

“I’m aiming for something that is realistic. It’s important to the older and established people of Henley. A lot of their parents contributed towards the hospital.”

Mr Hughes, 83, of Harpsden Road, Henley, said: “The old hospital started life as a war memorial at the top of our road. It was paid for by subscriptions from local people. Townlands Community Hospital doesn’t reflect anything about why all these people subscribed to the one at the top of the road. It’s cheapening the idea of it, I think, and all the people that died.”

A spokesman for NHS Property Services, which owns the Townlands site, said: “We recognise the importance of the hospital to the town and would be interested to know whether there is any wide support for the idea of changing the name.”

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