Queen Mary's Military Hospital

This was the name given to Calderstones in 1915. As it was approaching completion in May, 1914, the Lancashire Asylums Board offered the completed hospital to the War Office, to be used as a military hospital during the First World War.

On 14th May, 1915, it opened its gates to its first patients. A branch railway line constructed from the main Blackburn to Hellifield line had already been constructed. It ran into the site via the cemetery and crossed Mitton Road. It entered the hospital between what was the Pharmacy and the Occupational Health Department. The branch line was constructed to bring raw materials into the construction site in 1907. There was a platform long enough to accommodate a full train up to 950ft long. The platform was entirely covered to shelter the wounded from the elements and access to the wards was via covered walk ways.

The carriages were segregated into stretcher cases, sitting cases and walking wounded. Each carriage had a letter on the side which depicted this. The occupants had travelled directly in this train from coasts such as Hull, Dover and Southampton. These ports were used by the hospital ships to disembark the wounded to the trains. In all, 60,000 British and Allied Servicemen were treated at Queen Maryís Military Hospital. 330 died here of wounds, infections and sickness. Thirty-three of whom are buried in Calderstones cemetery.

There is still a section of Calderstones cemetery belonging to the War Office. Its boundaries are marked by four stones each bearing a bench mark and a number 1 - 4 and Ward Department. A memorial cross bears the names of those buried and a service of remembrance takes place there every year.

Due to vandalism, the cemetery gates are locked but access is available to interested persons. It lies a few hundred yards beyond Calderstones entrance on Mitton Road. People leaning over the wall just prior to the gates will see the overgrown cutting of the former branch railway line. The head stones bear the Regimental Insignia of a variety of Regiments, from our local East Lancs to Ireland, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In all, some 250 different regiments had soldiers treated at Q.M.M.H. There were 2,110 beds requiring a lot of care. Nurses came from Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Services, Red Cross, Territorial Army Nursing Force and Voluntary Aid Detachment. The military nurses bearing the rank of Captain and above were used as this was to ensure discipline of the soldiers. Colonel S. Robinson was the officer in command.

Belgian refugees manned the laundry. Sentries in their boxes manned the gates. A company of Grenadier Guards kept order.

Many hospital staff were houses in wooden huts around the site. The winters were cold and felt spats were issued to the nurses to keep away chilblains.

Most patients got better and unfortunately had to go back to the trenches, often without the opportunity to visit their homes. Time was spent convalescing and the soldiers were allowed to picnic and walk in the area around the hospital. Football and cricket matches were played, and one legged races were run with the aid of crutches.