Many mines operated a Miners’ Club; a weekly levy to ensure a few shillings a week would be paid to the miner’s family in case of accident or injury.
‘Doctor’s Pence’ usually covered surgical assistance only and medical provision was often primitive. The mine surgeon never ventured underground and injured men had to be hoisted to surface to receive medical attention. The time delay in doing so often proved fatal. Originally, the only hospital that
existed was at Truro, opened in 1799.
In 1844 mine adventurers set up a Practical Miner’s Society to remedy the lack of a hospital, and E.W.W. Pendarves offered to turn a country house into one. But the miners met these attempts with suspicion and they threatened to tear down any buildings constructed.
It took a supreme effort by the Rt. Hon. T.C. Agar-Robartes of Lanhydrock, near Bodmin, who owned or had interests in the many mines of the district, to initiate a successful scheme for a miners’ hospital. A committee was established in 1863 and the hospital opened in Jan 1864. The land for the building was given by Agar-Robartes himself, who also contributed to its support. In 1871 an accident department opened and the annual accounts of 1876 records 160 admissions in that year and a total expenditure of £1,069, of which Lord Robartes gave £774. Mine Captains were fined for swearing at the Mining Exchange in Redruth, the proceeds going to the Miners’ Hospital at West End.
In Jan 1890 the Redruth Hospital for Women was opened, after money was raised by public subscription. Preference was given to women who worked in the tin mines and streams. The late Mr Basset’s widow, and their 17 year old son and heir, Arthur, opened the hospital. The late Mr Basset’s bequest had met half the cost of the building of the hospital, together with an annual sum towards its running costs. Other benefactors were Mr John Williams of Caerhays Castle, Lord Clinton, Lord Robarts and Mr. George Williams of Scorrier House. General Sir Redvers Buller sold them the land for the nominal sum of £150 and gave £100 towards the building. The rest was met by public subscription. In 1898 a children’s wing was added, a gift from Mr Passmore Edwards and Mr Edward Trounsen.
In 1901 the two units were amalgamated and, by 1926, a Maternity Ward was opened. Over the years it was continually expanded and improved, the money coming from generous benefactors and local appeals. In 1947 it became the General Hospital for Redruth. With the opening of the new maternity unit at Treliske in the 1960s it was latterly used for operations under local anaesthetic and for out-patient clinics and physiotherapy. In the mid-1990s the old Miners Hospital and women’s unit was left unoccupied, until 3 years ago, when it was set on fire by vandals and it was decided to demolish it. There is now housing on the site.