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Wordsley Hospital was built as a workhouse in 1903, and became a hospital after the Great War. It was substantially expanded between 1930 and 1990 and even includes a separate hospital - Ridge Hill Hospital - which specialises in learning support and social care, without providing casualty or out patient facilities.
The most recent addition to Wordsley Hospital was a maternity unit that cost £6million to build and opened in May 1988 after three years of construction work. It replaced the maternity wings of the existing Wordsley Hospital as well as the 60-year-old maternity home at Burton Road Hospital. It stood on the site of an old hospital building and tennis courts. The maternity unit was officially opened by The Princess Royal on 24 November 1988.
However, in the early 1990s plans were unveiled for Wordsley Hospital, Dudley Guest Hospital and parts of the Corbett Hospital to be closed and the services relocated to an expanded Russells Hall Hospital. There was later a change of plan which would have seen maternity services kept at Wordsley (as the unit was then only a few years old) and the remaining services transferred to Russells Hall, but in 1998 it was decided to close down Wordsley completely and keep only in-patient services and Dudley Guest and Corbett. Local MP Ian Pearson was at the centre of a campaign to try and keep at least some services, particularly the maternity unit, at Wordsley.
The first phase of Wordsley Hospital's closure took place on 7 January 2005, when the maternity unit closed after just under 17 years in use and was relocated to Russells Hall. The last services at Wordsley were relocated on 22 April 2005.
The sale of the site was agreed in March 2005 (when some services were still at the hospital) when Mar City Developments purchased it for £14.75million with a view for redeveloping it for housing.
Vandalism and metal theft plagued the hospital buildings after they fell into disuse.
Two of the old hospital buildings on the east side of the hospital site were demolished in the autumn of 2006, but the bulk of the demolition did not take place until the following summer.
Surprisingly, the maternity block (which was less than 20 years old) was also demolished - despite earlier plans for it to be converted into a care home for elderly people. However, an arson attack on the building in February 2007, combined with the extensive vandalism and theft of metal, affected the building's condition and would have increased the cost of keeping it for other uses.
However, some of the older buildings at the site - including the clock tower - were retained due to their listed status, and are being converted into flats. The first residents moved into new houses on the site during August 2008, and all new housing was virtually completed by the end of 2011.
A new facility at Ridge Hill Hospital was officially opened on 18 October 2006 by local MP Ian Pearson. Some of the original Ridge Hill Hospital buildings are still in use, although others were demolished in 2007 and several are still standing disused. The road link to Wordsley Hospital was severed when the bulk of the Wordsley buildings were demolished in 2007.
12 homes on Ashdown Drive, which had been built in the 1960s and houses doctors and nurses at the hospital until its closure, were finally put up for sale by the local health trust in December 2010, nearly six years after the hospital closed.
Baby snatch incident
On 6 May 2002, a newborn baby girl was snatched from the unit by a local woman who had recently suffered a miscarriage. She was recovered seven hours later. It was later revealed that CCTV cameras at the maternity unit were not working when the baby was snatched.
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- "Hospital’s houses in Wordsley up for sale". Express & Star. 2010-12-14. Retrieved 2011-10-09.
- Steven Morris (17 May 2002). "Baby girl twin 'snatched after miscarriage'". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-10-09.
- "'We failed' says baby snatch hospital". BBC News. 2002-05-07. Retrieved 2011-10-09.