The old Farnborough Hospital at Locksbottom developed from the Bromley Union Workhouse, that opened in 1844.

Over the first hundred years the workhouse grew in size to meet an increasing number of elderly, chronically ill and mentally ill residents plus children. In 1873 it provided a home for 420 residents and by 1910, 694 residents of whom only 23 were able bodied. An indication that as the years progressed the workhouse was becoming more of a hospital was the introduction of nursing staff in 1908, and by 1923, the appointment of two doctors.

  Although by 1928 it was in effect a hospital rather than a workhouse it was not until 1936 that it became formally titled ‘Farnborough County Hospital’.

Then in 1948 it became part of the National Health Service and was renamed ‘Farnborough General Hospital’. Its main purpose was to provide operations and maternity services.

The chapel still had an important role to play providing appropriate services to the needs of patients and staff. In the later decades of the century baptisms were still recorded in the chapel.  

Then, by 2003, Farnborough Hospital was no more and had been replaced by the new Princess Royal University Hospital, now providing a broad spectrum of services, including accident and emergencies. The chapel, however became redundant, owing to an all faith provision being included within the new hospital building and reflecting the multi-ethnic community it now serves.

Well not quite redundant   Although its religious service may no longer be required, the chapel has continued to serve the community as the Primrose Centre.  This is a registered charity that provides complementary therapy, counselling and advice to support those affected by breast cancer. The external structure remains very much the original chapel of 1844, but internally it has been tastefully designed and decorated to be both welcoming and supportive to those who are initially shocked and distressed by their diagnosis as they journey through their treatment.

Bob Donovan

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