Dec 19 2012 by Helen Hunt, Birkenhead News
THE HOSPITAL where Birkenhead comic Paul O’Grady was born has almost been knocked down.
St Catherine’s Hospital in Church Road is being demolished to make way for a £32m new community healthcare facility.
It marks an end of an era for the Victorian hospital, which will be fondly remembered by many who grew up in the area and benefited from its care.
It was once the town’s main general hospital before Arrowe Park Hospital was built. Under the revamp the old Victorian buildings are being replaced by a single building with a pharmacy and community resource centre.
A spokesman for NHS Wirral said strong efforts were made to keep the history of the area alive and it had worked with the local historic society to retain key features.
St Catherine’s Church, which is a Grade II-listed building, is the focal point of the development and the images and materials used in the new building reflect the industrial past of Birkenhead.
The spokeswoman added: “In consultation with Birkenhead History Society, a number of areas of interest were identified.
“Specifically the society requested that five elements of the existing building be retained and incorporated into the new healthcare scheme including the Gate House, the entrance arch, a cornerstone, a decorative feature plaque and a door headstone.”
NHS bosses decided the old Victorian buildings were no longer suitable for patients’ changing needs.
The aim behind the new development is to create a one-stop health centre where people can have tests, see a specialist, undergo minor surgery and receive ongoing support from therapists or experts in aftercare.
Resident John Dickinson, 49, who was born in the hospital and lived in Birkenhead before moving to Bidston, said: “Looking at it being demolished brought back lots of memories.
“So many people were born there. It’s a shame when you look at the Victorian structure and the attention to detail and the quality of the old building.”