Sunday, October 11, 2009 | By: Rudi Butt

Hospitals In The Nineteenth Century

Updated (partial) August 29, 2013

The Naval and Military Hospital (January-July 1841) - the very first

When British troops occupied Hong Kong in 1841, they promptly established medical services for their own personnel. The Naval and Military Hospital was built in January 1841 and was located on the site of the Wellington Barracks [1]. Since the hospital buildings were hastily constructed applying only meshed structure, they were destroyed by the first (recorded) typhoon that struck Hong Kong after the completion of the hospital. The date was July 22, 1941, the hospital lasted only six months and was never rebuilt.

Wellington Barracks ca.1950
[1] Wellington Barracks 威靈頓兵房 was a British Army barracks in Admiralty. The three-story Classical architecture building was built in 1854 and were closed in 1979 and demolished in 1992. The site was later rebuilt: north of the Queensway became Pacific Place and south the Harcourt Garden.

Hospital Ship HMS Minden (1843-1844) - the first hospital ship

HMS Minden, Chesapeake Bay [1]
A 74-gun third-rate man-o-war of the British Royal Navy, HMS Minden (1810-1861) was named after the German town Minden and the Battle of Minden of 1759, a decisive victory of British and Prussian forces over France in the Seven Years' War. It was built by the Indian company Jamshedji Bomanji Wadia [2] in 1810. Christened and launched from the Duncan docks in Bombay on June 23 of that year, she was the first Royal Navy ship built outside of Britain. The Minden arrived in Hong Kong on June 7, 1843 from Chusan 舟山, and became the first military hospital here. It ceased to be a hospital ship in June 1844, with all of its medical staff reassigned (most probably to shore), and became the military stationary ship for the China and India Station and from December 20, 1848 served as a store ship until it was sold by auction for scrapping in August 1861. HMS Aligator (1821-1865) arrived in Hong Kong in December 1846 to replace Minden both as a medical ship and a store ship. The Aligator was sold in Hong Kong in October 1865. I do not know to whom and for what purpose. HMS Minden was remembered by Minden Row 緬甸台, and Minden Avenue 棉登徑, located behind Signal Hill of Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon.

I was able to find information on some of the medical staff of Minden:

Royal Navy surgeons and assistant surgeons who served on HMS Minden after 1840
Alfred Green G. Tucker Tucker was promoted to the position of Surgeon on November 23, 1841. He was assigned to the Minden on December 10, 1841 and reassigned in June 1844. He was a founders and the Inaugural President of the China Medico-Chirurgical Society established in Hong Kong. Tucker died on September 10, 1845 on board the Minden.
James Allen Allen was promoted to the position of Surgeon on January 30, 1842. He was assigned to the Minden on June 8 1842 at Dover Station (Reserve Squadron) and reassigned in December 1843.
Guernsey St. George Bowen Bowen was promoted to the position of Assistant Surgeon on March 29, 1838 and was assigned to HMS Hornet on the same day, stationed at West Indies. He was reassigned to the Minden on November 19, 1842 and reassigned in June 1844.
Richard Davison Pritchard Pritchard was promoted to the position of Assistant Surgeon on November 27, 1841. He was assigned to the Minden November 30, 1843 and reassigned in June 1844.
William Rogers Rogers was promoted to the position of Assistant Surgeon on November 20, 1839. He was assigned to the Minden on January 17, 1842 reassigned in December 1843.
Frederick W.R. Sadler Sadler was promoted to the position of Assistant Surgeon on December 29, 1841. He was assigned to the Minden on December 29, 1841 and reassigned in June 1844.
The list may not be exhaustive
Francis S. Key
[1] American lawyer and poet, Francis Scott Key, was on board the Minden during the war of 1812 in the Chesapeake Bay and saw the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British navy. He was touched seeing that the American flag was flying high despite the heavy attack and in 1814 wrote the poem "The Defense of Ft. McHenry", later renamed "The Star-Spangled Banner". It was made the United States national anthem on March 3, 1931.

Present day Duncan Dock, Bombay
[2] The Bombay Courier of June 23, 1810 carried this report:
"On Tuesday last His Majesty’s Ship, the "Minden" built in the new docks (Bombay)(known as "the Duncan Dock" that was named after Jonathan Duncan) by Jamshedji Bomanji Wadia was floated into the stream at high water, after the usual ceremony of breaking the bottle had been performed by the Honorable Governor Jonathan Duncan.

"In having produced the "Minden", Bombay is entitled to the distinguished praise of providing the first and only British ship of the line built out of the limits of the Mother Country; and in the opinion of very competent judges, the "Minden", for beauty of construction and strength of frame, may stand in competition with any man-o-war that has come out of the most celebrated Dockyards of Great Britain. For the skill of its architects, for the superiority of its timber, and for the excellence of its docks, Bombay may now claim a distinguished place among naval arsenals."
The Hospital of the Medical Missionary Society 傳道會醫院 (June 6, 1843 – ca.1853) - the first missionary hospital and the first hospital open to the populace

Founders of the Medical Missionary Society in Canton
Alexander Anderson Joseph ArcherElijah Coleman Bridgman 裨治文
H.M. Clarke Thomas Richardson Colledge 郭雷樞John Cleve Green
John Hine Robert Hugh InglisWilliam Jardine
Charkes William King George Tradescant Lay 李太郭Temple Hillyard Layton
A.C. Maclean Alexander MathesonJames Matheson
Peter Parker John Robert Morrison 馬儒翰Edmund Moller 慕勒
Richard Turner   

The Medical Missionary Society Hospital was situated on Morrison Hill where a school, the Morrison Education Society, was also established by the Missionary Society. The Hospital was organized by the London Missionary Society and built in 1842 under the supervision of William Lockhart 雒魏林, the first medical missionary to set foot in Hong Kong. In the same year, Benjamin Hobson 合信 was instructed by the Missionary Society to close their hospital in Macau [1] and move the facilities over to Hong Kong for the purpose to fit out the hospital here. The hospital would be under the charge of Hobson until he left for England in 1845.

The hospital's establishment cost of $5,000 was benevolently subscribed by English and American merchants residing in Hong Kong. Generally known as the "Benevolent Healing Hospital", it was opened to the entire populace, chiefly targeting the Chinese population as a mean to carry out missionary works. Charges were waived for those who couldn't afford them. Accident and emergencies were attended to at any time, others were admitted between 8am - 11am. The wards were designed for 42 beds, but at peak, the Hospital had recroded a total of 85 inpatients, more than double the planned capacity. In the first year of its existence, 3,348 outpatients and 556 inpatients had been seen. The Hospital was closed ten years after its opening when no more doctors were willing to serve on a noncommercial basis.

Treatise on Midwifery and Diseases of Children
(Fuying xinshuo 婦嬰新說, 1858)
During his tenure in China, Hobson produced four texts designed to introduce Western medical knowledge to the Chinese: Outline of Anatomy and Physiology (Quanti xin lun) 全體新論, 1850; First Lines of the Practice of Surgery in the West (Xiyi lüelun) 西醫略論, 1857; Practice of Medicine and Materia Medica (Neike xinshuo) 內科新說, 1858; Treatise on Midwifery and Diseases of Children (Fuying xinshuo) 婦嬰新說, 1858. These seminal texts were not translations of pre-existing Western works, but rather represented Hobson’s distillation of what he considered to be the flower of British medical science, and he and his Chinese collaborators composed them directly in Chinese. The resulting works were widely used as medical textbooks in medical missionary schools in China. Additionally, Hobson introduced smallpox vaccination into Hong Kong in 1844 while he was heading the Hospital.
[1] The Medical Missionary Society Hospital in Macao was the predecessor of the one in Hong Kong. The Macao hospital was first opened in 1838 by Peter Parker 伯駕 [2] and was closed only after a few months when Parker relocated to Canton. It was reopened when William Lockhart [3] arrived in Macao in 1839 and was closed again also after a a few months when British subjects were ordered to evacuate during the first phase of the Opium War. Benjamin Hobson [4] arrived in Macao in 1839 and in December of the same year reopened the hospital and continued its operation until he closed down the ill-fated hospital for good in 1842 and moved all the facilities over to Hong Kong.

Dr. Peter Parker
by Lam Qua ca.1840
Oil on Canvas
[2] Peter Parker (b.1804-d.1888) was the first medical missionary in history to arrive in the Far East. He was born in Framingham, Massachusetts, and after reading divinity and medicine at Yale University, he was ordained a Presbyterian minister and received his degree of doctor of medicine in 1834. Sponsored by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, Parker arrived in Macao in 1834, but soon went to Singapore for intensive language studies. Returning to China in 1835, he established the first mission hospital in the Far East, in Canton, named Pu Ai Hospital 普愛醫院, but it was better known as the Ophthalmic Hospital 眼科醫局, which later became the Canton Hospital 博濟醫院. The hospital exists today as the Second Affiliated Hospital of Zhongshan University 中山大學附屬第二醫院.

William Lockhart, founder
of the Chinese Hospital
[3] William Lockhart (b.1811-d.1896) was born in Liverpool and trained at the Guy's Hospital, London. He was the first British medical missionary to work in China – arrived in China in 1839, and the the first medical missionary to set foot in Hong Kong. In 1844, he founded the first western hospital in Shanghai, which was known as the Chinese Hospital 中國醫館. The hospital exists today as the Renji Hospital 上海仁濟醫院, which is among the most famous hospitals in China. Lockhart worked in Canton, Shanghai, Macao in addition to Hong Kong.

[4] Benjamin Hobson (b.1816-d.1873) was born in Welford, Northampton. He took a degree of bachelor of medicine from the University of London in ca.1836. He was sent to China by the London Missionary Society and arrived in Macao in 1839. Honson's first wife, Jane Abbay, died on a ship homebound to England in 1845. He remarried in 1847 to Mary Rebecca Morrison, daughter of Robert Morrison, the first Protestant Missionary to have come to China. As in the case of Lockhart, Hobson worked in Canton, Shanghai, Macao and Hong Kong and, in 1859 he left China for the last time. Hobson was very well known for his works and studies relating to child birth.
The Hong Kong Seamen's Hospital (August, 1843 - March, 1873) - the first private hospital

The Seamen’s Hospital was located in Wanchai, where the Ruttonjee Hospital is currently situated - between Wanchai Road and Queen's Road East. Plans to establish a hospital for non-military sailors got started at the instigation of a promise of a $12,000 donation by Herjeebhoy Rustomjee. A committee was quickly formed to move forward the hospital project. In the committee were Alex Anderson, Assistant Surgeon to the British Superintendent of Trade in China, and who later became Hong Kong’s first Colonial Surgeon; James Matheson, Senior Partner and co-founder of Jardine, Matheson and Co.; and John Robert Morrison, son of Robert Morrison, interpreter for the Superintendent of Trade. Rustomjee, however, never made good his promise, the hospital was finally built with a public subscription of $6,000 plus additional funds advanced by Matheson’s partner Dr. William Jardine, who himself was formerly a ship's surgeon. Opened in August 1843, the hospital was placed under the charge of Dr. Peter Young of the Hong Kong Dispensary, who had been surgeon in the British East India Company's iron steamship Nemesis. Hong Kong Dispensary would later became A.S. Watson; and Young, the Colonial Surgeon - in succession to Francis Dill on the latter's death in 1846. Herjeebhoy Rustomjee was a Parsee opium trader and ship-owner; he was previously based in Canton. The hospital's trustees in 1846 included Alexander Matheson (nephew of James Matheson), Alexander Anderson (former Colonial Surgeon 1843-44), Donald Matheson (this minght be James Matheson's father, but I am not 100% sure), Peter Young, Gilbert Smith (partner of the opium firm MacVicar & Co.) and Frederic T. Bush (merchant and U.S. Consul to Hog Kong). Alexander Matheson and Alexander Anderson dropped out from the list the following year.

Non-Chinese seamen were treated here and expenses were to be paid by their employers. The hospital could treat up to 50 in-patients, at a daily rate of $1.5 for officers and 75¢ for seamen – inclusive of board and lodging, medicines and consultation. Out-patients were attended by Dr. Young daily between 8pm and 9pm, except on Sundays. On March 8, 1848, Dr. William Aurelius Harland (b.1822-d.1858) house surgeon of the Seamen's Hospital performed the first surgical operation in Hong Kong with the use of chloroform. The news was reported with a great novelty. Dr. Balfour was house surgeon in 1846 and Dr. W.A. Haeland in 1847.

The hospital, running at a loss, was bought by the British Navy in 1873 using the money obtained by selling the hospital ship, HMS Melville.The Seaman's Hospital was renamed the Royal Naval Hospital, and the hill where the hospital stood was named Mount Shadwell, after Vice-Admiral Charles Frederick Alexander Shadwell, the Commander-in-Chief on the China Station. The Royal Naval Hospital was severely damaged during WWII and with the efforts and funding of Jehangir Hormusjee Ruttonjee, the hospital was relaunched in 1949 as the Ruttonjee Sanatorium 律敦治療養院, which was in memory of his daughter, Tehmi Ruttonjee-Desai, who died of tuberculosis in 1943. It was one of the main institutions specifically treating tuberculosis in Hong Kong. Following a redevelopment that doubled the size of the sanatorium, it was renamed Ruttonjee Hospital in 1991. On April 1, 1998, the management of Ruttonjee Hospital and Tang Shiu Kin Hospital was integrated for the purpose to increase efficiency and to optimize the health care resource utilization.

Victoria Hospital (ca.1843-?)

The Victoria Hospital, situated at No. 1, 2 and 3 Queen's Road, was running in 1843 under the direction of two doctors - James Satchell and Richard Jones. The hospital was established to take care of foreign seamen, at the rate of $2 for officers and $1 for seamen. (This is not to be confused with the Victoria Hospital for Women and Children that existed on Barker Road between 1897 and 1947). Dr. Satchell was also the second editor of the Friend of China, who died from opium deprivation soon after taking over the newspaper.

The Government Civil Hospital 政府公立醫院, also known as 國家醫院 (ca.1849-1937) - the first government hospital

Government Civil Hospital ca.1890
(updated August 29, 2013) Despite the repeated appeals by Alex Anderson, the first Colonial Surgeon (1843- 1844), for a colonial hospital, the first government hospital would not appear until around 1849. The hospital was housed in a poorly constructed-and-maintained two-storied bungalow and was destroyed by a typhoon in 1874. The government then hired a building which was formerly a hotel named Hotel d'Europe in Hollywood Road, adjoining the Central Police Barracks for use as a hospital. The hospital moved in and start running on November 13, 1874. In the first year of operation, 195 cases were treated and there were 18 deaths.

John Ivoy Murray, the Colonial Surgeon (1859-1869) wrote, in his 1860 report, " The hospital system has always appeared to me very inadequate to the population. In fact it may be broadly stated that there is no hospital for Chinese, who form such a vast majority of our population."
At that time, most of the patients who were admitted to the Government Civil Hospital were Europeans, Chinese civil servants and members of the police force. Very few indigenous people were admitted. It may be said that traditional beliefs in Chinese medicine deterred the Chinese community from accepting Western medical treatment. (Not a very valid argument, ... The Medical Missionary Society Hospital in its first year of operation (1843) treated 3,348 outpatients and 556 inpatients – almost all of them were Chinese.) The true reason was probably that Chinese could not afford the hospital charges, or that, as one resource reveals during my research, Chinese from the populace were not admitted until 1864, fifteen years after the Hospital's establishment.

On Christmas Day, 1878, the Hospital (housed in the hotel building) was completely burnt down. The Hospital took over the premises of the old Lock Hospital for its operation and when the new Lock Hospital was completed in 1879, it became the new Government Civil Hospital. It was built on Hospital Road and contained four blocks. It was properly designed and equipped with wards that accommodated 225 beds. A handbook of Hong Kong in 1908 stated "The Civil Hospital is one of the most worthy institutions under the control of the Government.” From then on, the Government Civil Hospital was the main medical institution in Hong Kong functioned continually until 1937, when Queen Mary Hospital was opened. The old buildings then became an infectious disease hospital known as Sai Ying Pun Hospital 西營槃醫院 and were eventually demolished and replaced on the same site by Prince Philip Dental Hospital in 1981.

I wish to track down the names of all the Medical Superintendents of the Government Civil Hospital. This is what I ahve so far.

Medical superintendents of the Government Civil Hospital
Dollman unk. - June 1864Dollman became the Port Health Officer
J.A. Yule June 1864 - 1866Yule succeeded Dollman
R. Young bef. September 1872 - unk. 
Scanlan aft. 1872 and bef. 1878 - unk.acting
Drew aft. 1872 and bef. 1878 - unk.acting
Charles John Wharry 1878 - at least 1884 
John Mifford Atkinson ca.1887 - 1894 
James Alfred Lowson 1894 - unk. 
John Bell 1903 - unk.acting from 1896-1903
Wilfred Vincent Miler Koch 1914-1917 
John Roche Rice unk.-unk. 

- Evans, Dafydd Emrys (Ed.), Constancy of Purpose, Faculty of Medicine, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1987.

The Lock Hospital 性病醫院 (1858-1894) - the first venereal diseases hospital

The first venereal diseases hospital was a makeshift Lock Hospital established in 1845 and was supported by voluntary contributions from the prostitutes and governed by officers elected by themselves. The officers, consisting of a matron, steward, native doctor and interpreter, two nurses, a coolie and six watchmen (hired from the Police Force), were made available. The expenses of the establishment amounted to $163 per month.

By the 1850s, Hong Kong was known as a center for prostitution and venereal disease, especially syphilis. The increasing number of infection among seamen and soldiers became problematic and calls for regulating prostitution and the detainment of infected prostitutes were soon met with actions. The building and maintaining of the Lock Hospital, opened in 1858, was funded by taxes paid by brothels and prostitutes ($4 per month per establishment, and $1.5 per person) and payments collected from foreign seamen for health certificates they require upon departing Hong Kong ($0.5 per certificate), both charges were regulated under the Venereal Diseases Ordinance (No. 12 of 1857, dated November 24, 1857).

The hospital was for the purpose for the reception and treatment of women affected with venereal diseases. Under the above named Ordinance, prostitutes were required by law to undertake medical examination on a regular basis. The naming of Lock is believed to be a reference to the practice of locking up the prostitutes who were found to be suffering from a venereal disease. In the first year of operation, 124 women were treated, the following year, 162.

In 1874, plans to expand the Lock Hospital were approved and a new facility would be built on the old site of the Government Civil Hospital which was destroyed by a typhoon earlier in the same year. When the Government Civil Hospital, then temporarily housed in a hotel in Hollywood Road, was completely burnt down in 1878, the Lock Hospital gave up its premises to the Government Civil Hospital for temporary use, and the VD hospital moved to an old school and two adjacent private houses rented by the government. When the new Lock Hospital was completed in 1879, the Government Civil Hospital took it over as its own premises, the Lock Hospital remained in the old school site.

On September 1, 1887, the Contagious Diseases Ordinance, 1867 (enacted on July 23, 1867 to replace the Venereal Diseases Ordinance) was abolished, and the medical examination of prostitutes was no longer compulsory. The Lock Hospital remained in operation exclusively for the reception and treatment of women. In 1892, it was renamed the Women's Hospital for Venereal Disease and was finally closed on June 1, 1894. Female venereal wards were opened in the Government Civil Hospital.

The Sanatorium (1863-ca.1865) - a failed experiment

The Sanatorium was a small military hospital built in 1863 as an experiment, on a flat area below the signal station and facing toward Mt. Kellett. The hospital had admitted 17 patients but, probably due to difficulties in access, was closed before long. Hong Kong residents Granville Sharp (who was the agent for Commercial Bank of India) and wife Matilda (after whom Matilda International Hospital is named) took a lease of the property from the Military and used it as their residence in 1866. A year later, the 6th Governor Richard Graves MacDonnell obtained the site from the Military, had the Sharps thrown out and built the first Mountain Lodge on the site of the Sanatorium, which became the summer residence for himself and future governors. The Lodge was rebuilt in 1900 and by 1938, it was on longer in use. After its demolition in 1946, the site became a part of the Victoria Peak Garden.

The Smallpox Hospital (January, 1871 – Arpil, 1873) - the first hospital specialized in epidemiological diseases

Old Colonial Gaol on Stonecutters Island
present day photo
An epidemic of smallpox broke put towards the end of 1870 and to cope with the surge in number of patients, temporary matsheds were erected near the Government Civil Hospital. In January 1871, as the matsheds were overcrowded, the deserted gaol-building (erection of the gaol commenced in 1861 and was completed in 1864) on Stonecutters Island [1] 昂船洲 were converted into a smallpox hospital. Among 101 cases treated (73 civilians and 28 soldiers), there were only 9 deaths. The Smallpox Hospital was closed in April, 1873 as the number of patients decreased, and the patients were thenceforth accommodated at the Government Civil Hospital. In 1874 the Civil Hospital was destroyed in a typhoon. A year later the gaol-building that housed the Smallpox Hospital met the same fate.
[1] The Stonecutters Island lost its island status when it was connected to the Kowloon peninsula by the West Kowloon Reclamation in the 1990s to provide land for the construction of the road and railway network to the new Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok, and for the Container Terminal 8 of Kwai Tsing Container Terminals.

The Tung Wah Hospital 東華醫院 (February 14, 1872 -present) - the first Chinese medicine hospital

Lunatic Asylum (1875-1885) - the first psychiatric hospital

Before the opening of the Lunatic Asylum in 1875, Chinese psychiatric patients were sent to Tung Wah Hospital and, non-Chinese were sent to gaol. The asylum, housed in half of a building consisting two semi-detached houses was situated in Hollywood Road which occupied the present site of Police Married Quarters. Admissions were restricted to non-Chinese patients. Chinese patients continued to be sent to Tung Wah Hospital where they were. In ca.1880, the building where the asylum was located had to be pulled down and the asylum was relocated to half of a deserted old Chinese school house in Hospital Road, on the site which later became the new wing of the Government Civil Hospital. This asylum remained in use until 1885.

The Chinese Lunatic Asylum was opened in 1891
This asylum was replaced in 1885 by the European Lunatic Asylum, which was a purpose-built institution, at the present site of the David Trench Rehabilitation Center in Bonham Road. It had a bed complement of 8, consisting of 4 for men and 4 for women. At its lower site and extending to High Street was the Chinese Lunatic Asylum, which is now used as the Eastern Street Methadone Center. It had 16 beds, 8 for each sex. With its opening in 1891, Tung Wah Hospital ceased admitting violent 'lunatics’. In 1895, the two asylums merged into one and in terms of medical cover, the asylum was treated as an annex to the Government Civil Hospital.
There was consistent overcrowding of the asylum and, in 1894, the Hong Kong Government arranged with the authorities in Canton to accept transfers of Chinese patients to the John Kerr Refuge for the Insane in Fong Tsuen. Non-Chinese patients were repatriated to their own countries.

1977 photo of the Victoria Mental Hospital at High Street
The asylum era ended in 1928 when the term ‘lunatic asylum’ was substituted with 'mental hospital' – the Victoria Mental Hospital. The hospital had 23 beds. In 1938, part of the staff quarters in High Street were converted to treat women at the mental hospital, increasing the number of beds to 84. The main function of the hospital was to provide custodial care for disturbed mental patients until their transfer to China or repatriation to their own countries. The High Street Mental Hospital closed down with the 1961 opening of the Castle Peak Hospital. Unoccupied since 1970s, poorly maintained and badly damaged by two fires, the building, at that time generally known as the High Street Ghost Hosue 高街鬼屋, was pulled down, except the façade, in 1990s for the development of the Sai Ying Pun Community Complex 西營盤社區綜合大樓.

The Alice Memorial Hospital 雅麗氏紀念醫院 (1887-present) and The Nethersole Hospital 那打素醫院 (1893-present) - the first teaching hospitals

Kennedy Town Glass Works Hospital (1894)

Victoria Hospital for Women and Children (1897-1947)



Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this!

Desmond Lam said...

does it any information about Sanatorium Hospital operated by Swire in 1890 at Quarry Bay, Hong Kong?

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