Henry Bloom Noble was a wealthy entrepreneur and philanthropist with interests in many industries, including shipping, the wine and spirits trade and land development. During the 1860s he organised a bailout of the Fort Street Hospital and Dispensary, and by the 1870s was a member of the Hospital Committee.
The Fort Street site had always been controversial as locals were worried about the spread of disease from the hospital’s central location. As medical practices changed and developed, there was more concern that the building was unsuitable and lacked the necessary amenities. And although the hospital was rarely full, the Committee was constantly aware of the possibility of overcrowding in the case of an epidemic or widespread illness.
In 1886, Henry Bloom Noble surprised the island with an offer to fund the building and equipping of a brand new hospital, on land by Crellin’s Hill that was donated by his wife, Rebecca. She laid the foundation stone for the building (which can be seen on the left-hand side of the left wing of the original red brick building), but had died by the time the hospital was opened, on 5th September 1888.
HB Noble donated £20,000. The hospital contained ward space for fourteen men and fourteen women, as well as private wards, an operating theatre and accommodation for staff.
Interest and enthusiasm for the new hospital was high, and the opening ceremony was lavish and well-attended. However, with patients from all over the island, the hospital’s needs quickly outgrew the building. New premises were built in 1912 on Westmoreland Road, and the hospital closed its doors before becoming the premises for the Manx Museum in 1922.