Born on November 3rd 1822, Sir Charles Mark Palmer a successful shipyard/steel company owner not only gave Jarrow much needed employment he was also responsible for the building of a much needed hospital.
He was married three times. His first wife Jane was the daughter of Ebenezer Robson who hailed out of Newcastle Upon Tyne, Jane gave birth to four children two of the children died one in infancy, and the other in his late 40’s. Charles Mark, and Charles respectfully. The two surviving sons were named George Robson, and Alfred Molyneux Palmer.
His first wife Jane died in 1865, and was more or less the reason he built the hospital. When an injury occurred the individual/individuals had to be taken by horse and cart to the Newcastle Infirmary. The journey was so bad that many of the injured never made it, sadly dying on the way there. Charles Palmer’s wife Jane had expressed her concern many times for the workers, with this in mind he felt the building of the hospital would be an appropriate memorial to her.
The hospital was given the name Palmer Memorial Hospital it opened its doors in the December of 1870. Running cost were met from the workers contributions and a annual grant from Palmer its-self. The staff included a full time doctor, matron and nurses. The hospital was a much needed improvement. As I mentioned earlier the injured were normally taken to the Newcastle Infirmary, and injury’s at the shipyard/steel works were often happening putting the lives of both men and boys at further risk after the initial injury.
In those days nets, hard hats and other safety features found in shipyards of the now where unheard of in those days. Sadly both men, and boys did die in accidents. One such accident saw a young boy of 14 years of age become entangled with a machine and was killed. Another incident saw a 38 year old man die when he was struck by a train as he crossed the company railway line.
Many of the workers working at the yard were Irishmen. These men had left their homeland to find work at the Jarrow yard. As the years went by a large community of Irish as well as Scott’s made there home in Jarrow, adding a valuable contribution to the town’s future and life-style.
Although intended for the workers and their families by the late 1880’s when a new extension was built on to the existing hospital known as the Jubilee Wing the hospitals facilities by this time had been extended to the other residents of the town.
Sir Charles Palmer himself died on June 4, 1907. not long after the statue of himself was erected in the grounds of the hospital in 1904. However, this did not stop the company from investing more resources into the towns hospital. A new outpatients department was opened by Sir Alfred Molyneux Palmer In the December of 1920. The collapse of the company in 1933 saw the town council take over the upkeep of the hospital. The hospital its-self had stood for over 100 years, sadly as we moved further forward in time it became unworkable, then in November 1983, the closure of the hospital was the signing of its own death warrant and at a later date the hospital was demolished. The now finds us with a nice new hospital standing on the site of the demolished Palmer hospital. In the distance of the below photo you can see the original house that was attached to the old Palmer Hospital. I personally think the view back in the twenties was much more appealing than the cut and dried view of this modern day building.
That’s the way the cookie crumbles some people may say. I suppose that is the price we pay for modern technological advancement. This new version of the Palmer Community Hospital was completed in 1987 and was opened by HRH The Princess Royal. The hospital is still owned by the South Tyneside Health Authority. The picture shows what the new building looks like to-day. You can see in the distance the original house that was attached to the old Palmer Hospital.
Sir Charles Palmer is buried at Easington Parish Church, North Yorkshire. As and when I come across more info, I will update this short history of a mighty shipbuilding company and the work force that went with it.
Because I had an embedded link to a Youtube video on this page that contained some copyright content, the short sighted WMG (Warner Music Group) have blocked my, and all embedded links for this particular video on websites. However, if you would still like to watch the video the following Youtube link will open a new page where you can watch the video without fear of it being blocked by Big Brother. It will take you on a journey of The Jarrow Marchers in stills and video, The background song: The Jarrow Song … Singer Alan Price … another Geordie lad.
- Charles Palmer and Jane – Image: Bede Gallery (1976)/ Bede’s World
- Palmer Memorial Hospital – Image: Bede Gallery (1976)/ Bede’s World