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Wellcome Trust Project at Gwent Archives

Gwent Archives is delighted to announce that it has secured a Wellcome Trust Research Resources Grant of £38,729 to fund their project: ‘From a “Penny in the Pound” to “Free at the Point of Delivery”: Cataloguing the pre- and post-1948 hospital records of Monmouthshire.’

Monmouthshire’s hospital records are distinctly valuable for the insight they provide into the history of healthcare provision in the area which inspired Aneurin Bevan to found the National Health Service.

Prior to 1948, a number of hospitals were built and operated with funds which were accumulated solely from donations and member subscriptions. Rich and poor came together with the common aim of improving medical facilities in the county. The wealthy contributed gifts of money, produce and land, whereas local industry workers agreed to sacrifice a ‘penny in the pound’ from their wages to support newly established medical aid societies.

These societies developed hospital and healthcare services in Monmouthshire and ensured that subscription holders and financial donors (and their dependants) no longer had to pay fees for access to medical assistance. As management committee Chairman of medical society funded Tredegar Park Cottage Hospital in 1929, Bevan would have witnessed first-hand the success of this local healthcare model. In 1948 its influence can be seen in the introduction of the NHS.

In this, the NHS’s 70th anniversary year, Gwent Archives will ensure that the records documenting this history of medical provision in Monmouthshire, and its role in inspiring the development of a ‘free at the point of delivery’ healthcare system, are made accessible for generations to come. The grant will be used to fund the appointment of a project archivist and a preservation assistant who, over the next year, will catalogue and preserve their unlisted 20th century hospital records. This extensive collection contains a wide variety of documents including minute books, admission registers and hospital plans and will prove to be a valuable resource for future researchers of all disciplines.

On news of the award County Archivist, Tony Hopkins, commented:
‘The healthcare records held by Gwent Archives are of national importance given their influence on the founding of the NHS. They are also immensely important for understanding the social and welfare history of industrial south east Wales from the mid-nineteenth century. In short, this is a momentous archival resource which will soon be made accessible to researchers thanks to this very generous grant from the Wellcome Trust.’

You can follow this blog to see the latest news for this project: ‘From a “Penny in the Pound” to “Free at the Point of Delivery”: Cataloguing the pre- and post-1948 hospital records of Monmouthshire.’

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