As demand for the services for the Douglas Medical Dispensary grew, it became clear that the Strand Street premises were no longer adequate. Work began to establish a ‘proper’ hospital for the Douglas poor and £1,030 was raised for the project.
Although there was some disagreement about the site, including concerns that a central location for the hospital would lead to the spread of disease, a house on Fort Street was eventually bought for £800. The new hospital opened its doors in 1850.
It can be seen on the photograph of Douglas in Source A, as the large rectangular building next to the shore, on the right-hand side of the picture. The photograph in Source B shows how its surroundings changed, as Loch Promenade and other developments transformed the layout of the town.
The first matron was Nelly Brennan, who by 1849 was well known following her work with the Douglas poor in the cholera epidemic. She served in the post until 1851.
The hospital’s early years were fraught with controversy, especially regarding the quality and availability of care. In 1851 there was a public scandal when Jane Fitzsimmons died, pregnant and destitute, shortly after being turned away at its doors. The first House Surgeon the hospital, Dr Eves, was asked to resign in 1853 following an argument with the committee about his supposed neglect of a patient with a scrofulous thigh-bone. Over the years, there were also complaints that the nursing staff were untrained and “frequently drunkards”.