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Wordsley Hospital was built as a workhouse in 1903, and became a hospital after the Great War, mostly specialising in healthcare for injured members of the armed forces as well as burns victims, with its services and buildings gradually being expanded throughout the 20th century.
Ridge Hill Hospital, which specialised in physiotherapy, learning support and social care, opened on an adjacent site in 1982.
At the beginning of the 1980s, Wordsley Hospital was chosen as the site of a new maternity unit to serve the whole Dudley borough and replacing the existing maternity wards at Wordsley as well as Burton Road Hospital in Dudley and Mary Stevens Maternity Home in Stourbridge. Construction work on the new £6 million maternity unit began during 1985, on the site of an old hospital building and the hospital's tennis courts. The maternity unit was in use from May 1988, was officially opened by the Duchess of Gloucester on 24 November 1988. The former maternity wards at Wordsley were utilised by other facilities, the maternity home at Burton Road stood empty until the rest of the hospital was demolished in 1994, while the Mary Stevens Maternity Home was converted into the headquarters of Mary Stevens Hospice.
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 to keep at least some services, particularly the maternity unit, at Wordsley. There was much outrage in the local community at the decision to close down Wordsley Hospital, with the closure of the Corbett and Guest Hospitals attracting similar condemnation from the local community.
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 £14.75 million 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.