50 years since first patients on Hills Road site


Fifty years ago this week, the first patients were admitted to the "new" Addenbrooke's hospital on Hills Road.


Neurosciences medical staff 1961
Neurosciences medical staff 1961


The need for an expansion of the hospital had been talked about for many years. It was not until the the general purposes committee received a ministry report on the designation of Addenbrooke's as a teaching hospital on 18 August 1947, and heard that the University would welcome such a designation, that plans for a larger Addenbrooke's were assured.


On 26 August 1947 the committee appointed the architects Messrs Easton and Robertson to build a new hospital on a site in Trumpington "which they hoped would shortly be acquired". At 92.217 acres, however, this site was rejected by the Ministry of Health as being too big; it believed 25 acres would be sufficient for an 800-bed teaching hospital.


A meeting of the General Committee on 27 April 1948 recorded their desire "that the new Board of Governors of the Teaching Hospital should perpetuate the name of Addenbrooke's in association with this 'new' Hospital".


Discussions about the size of the new site continued until 1951, when the Board of Governors entered into a contract with the Pemberton Trustees to acquire 43.895 acres on Hills Road for £4,350.


Throughout the Fifties, discussions continued over the eventual complement of beds – Medical Staff wanted over 800 but the Ministry of Health recommended 680 - and the first units to be built on the New Site. The main one was to be a neurosurgical unit led by Walpole Lewin, the first in East Anglia, and in November 1959 work started with the planting of trees around the perimeter.


Work progressed very quickly and on 03 Oct 1961 the first six patients were admitted to the New Addenbrooke's Hospital on Hills Road. The first unit to go into operation was neurological surgery and neurology - the medical staff are pictured left. In the back row, from left to right, are: Ian James (registrar); Dr Hugh Holland (radiologist); Mr Alec Holmes (senior registrar); Dr Chester White (house surgeon); Marion Hill (house physician); and Dr Cecil Treip (neuropathologist). Front row: Dr T Desmond Hawkins (radiologist); Dr Michael Yealland (neurologist); Mr Walpole Lewin (consultant neurosurgeon); Dr Aileen Adams (anaesthetist); and Dr Ronald A Miller (anaesthetist).


On 23 October the outpatients opened and by April 1962 all the departments and wards were operating in New Hospital. The Hills Road site opened with a two-storey outpatient department containing six suites, a theatre, physiotherapy department, pharmacy, temporary biochemistry and haematology laboratories, dental surgery, ECG and medical photography departments, and offices for the almoners and dietitians.  An accident service and X-ray departments were in single-storey buildings which were linked to the out-patient departments and a five-storey ward block, which had four wards with 94 beds for neurosurgical, neurological, orthopaedic and dental patients.  There was also a separate residency building and temporary dining room for staff and kitchen, a boiler house and a building for the University department of Radiotherapeutics and MRC LMB. 


On 28 May 1962, HM The Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the new Addenbrooke's hospital. The "Old Site" on Trumpington Street stayed open and both sites ran alongside each other until October 1984. The Old Site is now occupied by the Cambridge Judge Business School.


If you would like to share any memories, photographs or items linked to the new or old sites, please contact the hospital archivist :



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