William Moss, a Liverpool surgeon, wrote a guide to Liverpool with the object of ventilating matters 'needing attention' and mentions that the poorest people live overcrowded in cellars, intemperate in habits and neglectful of their children. The expectation of life in Liverpool in the early nineteenth century was less than in most other places.
It was because of sugar imports that Liverpool became and still remains the main centre of sugar refinery. Liverpool became wealthy and fortunes were made, amongst others, by the Gladstone family, while in 1798 Pitt stated that of the overseas trade revenues no less than four-fifths came from the West Indies. Liverpool had surpassed Bristol because the latter was not favourably placed; in the hinterland of Liverpool, Lancashire factories had grown apace during the industrial revolution and they required an outlet for their goods. Lancashire was building its 'dark, satanic mills'; Liverpool was building its dark, satanic warehouses. Canal transport, booming in 1760, had made conveyance of goods easier. In Britain, the earlier agricultural revolution had improved food supplies and increased the population. All seemed set fair. The increasing population necessitated a proper provision for the sick so that the Ross Infirmary was opened by the 11th Earl of Derby in 1749. Over the gate the following lines were inscribed:
Think while your hand th' entreated alms extend
That what to us ye give-to God you lend.
The Infirmary and Seamen's Hospital with the Medical Library on the extreme right,
The first Infirmary stood on the site of the present day St George's Hall, and cost £2,600 to build. It was expanded in 1771. The Infirmary paid dividends even though it only contained fifty-four beds. It represented a splendid act of charity on behalf of the citizens, but it was also a necessity because shipowners and others supported it to serve the needs of their servants, sailors and dependants. In addition there was a Seaman's Hospital, or rather hospice, under separate management, to care for sailors and their families.
The old Infirmary was replaced in 1824 by a new hospital and lunatic asylum and was built on Brownlow Street and renamed the Liverpool Royal Infirmary in 1851. The old Infirmary was closed in 1826 and eventually demolished in 1842 to make way for St George's Hall. The one on Brownlow Hill was designed by John Foster 'It was not his most inspired offering, its portico, six fluted columns in dry, classical style pinioned by plastered antae, had a certain monumental dignity'. This in turn gave way in 1887 to the present Gothic building designed by Alfred Waterhouse. The original building did not please everyone including John Aitken, one of its surgeons, who considered that the wards were dangerous owing to overcrowding, but the trustees had reason to be thankful because all debts had been paid off by 1752 and for the time being Liverpool's problems were solved.
The second Infirmary, Brownlow Street, 1824-1890.
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