VAD Hospital, Gloucester Road, Cheltenham (St John’s)

   LEAVING CHELTENHAM …………..and all that was dear



St John’s VAD Hospital,

Gloucester Road, Cheltenham

Location:  Gloucester Road Council Schools, Cheltenham

Grid Reference:   SO 938228

Opened:   30th June 1915

Closed:   31st January 1919

Total Beds:   170

Average Resident Patients in 1918:   140

Total Admissions:   2995

IWMWM Ref:   In due course


St John's VAD Hospital Plaque

Evidence of damage to the VAD plaque.   See below.

Inscriptions on the Memorial Plaque:   This building was used as a hospital for sick and wounded soldiers during the Great War.   It was manned by Gloucestershire Voluntary Aid Detachment No 108 and was open from 30 June 1915 to 31 Jan 1919 during which period 2995 cases were treated.


The hospital was staffed by No 108 Gloucestershire Voluntary Aid Detachment and its officers were:


Commandant:   Miss Woodward

Medical Officers:   Dr G A Cardew, Dr Hebblethwaite, Dr Hutton and Dr Powell, MBE

Lady Superintendent:   Miss N K Grounds

Quartermaster:   Miss Winterbotham

Hon Secretary:   Mr W W Whittard

Hon Treasurer:   Miss L Keeling



Notes by the Commandant (on closure in 1919):  

St John Hospital opened on June 30th, 1915, in Gloucester Road Council Schools, equipped for receiving 160 patients, the number of beds being increased to 180.   The building was exceptionally well adapted for a hospital, having no stairs;  its proximity to both railway stations was very convenient for transport, and on several occasions individual cases on ambulance trains, too desperately ill to proceed to the North, were detrained in Cheltenham, and brought to St John, most of these cases being almost in extremis.

Of the VA helpers who began work at the opening of the hospital 52 worked faithfully to its close on January 31st, 1919.   Two VA nurses have been awarded the Royal Red Cross, 2nd Class, and the names of several of the staff have been brought to the attention of the Secretary of State for War for valuable services.

The men of the St John Ambulance Brigade have rendered continuous and invaluable help as voluntary relief orderlies, by night and by day, in addition to their transport and other duties.

Miss Bowle Evans was Commandant when the hospital opened and served in that capacity till June, 1917 when she resigned to take up other war work.   She was succeeded by Miss Woodward who had till then been Quartermaster.



In the summer of 2002, when negotiations between the school site owners’ and a property developer were ongoing, attempts by persons unknown were made to remove the plaque from its housing.   Regrettably, damage was caused to the plaque but an eagle-eyed neighbour, Mrs Mary Nelson, took action to report the damage to the Council and other organisations.   Eventually the plaque was removed by the Council to the safe-keeping of the Cheltenham Museum.   Mr Dave James of Cheltenham was instrumental in securing a £250 Grant Aid from the Friends of War Memorials to get the plaque repaired.   The whole site of the former Cheltenham Technical High School has been bulldozed and developers have built houses here.   The plaque remains in custody of the Cheltenham Museum.

Further reading: 

1.   “Cheltenham in the Great War” by Neela Mann (ISBN 978 0 7509 6415 9) published in 2016, describes the considerable contribution to the war effort made by the Cheltenham Branch of the British Red Cross Society during 1914 – 1919.

2.   “VAD Hospitals in Cheltenham” from The Wilson Collection and Archives at the Cheltenham Museum can be viewed here and here.

3.   “Gloucestershire Red Cross Hospitals” can be seen here.



Page last updated: 29th December 2016


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