July 28, 2017, by Kathryn Steenson
1977-2017: 40 years of the Queen’s Medical Centre
On 28th July 1977, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II opened The Queen’s Medical Centre, the first specifically-built teaching hospital in the UK. This marked her Silver Jubilee. Manuscripts and Special Collections holds a number of the hospital’s papers and photographs, including those relating to the opening event, which were acquired in October 2012.
The University Medical School collection (including Records of the University of Nottingham Medical School, part of the Queen’s Medical Centre; 1942-2010 and Records of the Department of Nursing, University of Nottingham and its predecessor nursing units at Mansfield, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire; 1970s-1996 ) is a large resource comprised of nearly 160 archive boxes. Within these boxes are papers of medical staff, photographs of former students, and plans for the QMC building.
By mid-June 1977, organisation for the Queen’s visit was in full swing. Much preparation had been undertaken and six drafts of programme details had been written. The sixth draft pointed to the Queen and Prince Philip arriving at 4.50pm and leaving at 5.25pm after unveiling a plaque. In-house correspondence speaks of the production of a ‘cake in the shape of the University Hospital and Medical School complex’ and those who were to meet Her Majesty (including Sir Frederick Dainton and Lady Dainton, the former being Vice-Chancellor of the University between 1965 and 1970).
There were also concerns before the big day. The Vice-Chancellor, Basil Weedon, wrote, ‘I have always been a little concerned about moving the Royal Party and those accompanying it up and down in the lifts’. RG Bradley (Equipment Officer at the Medical School) wrote, ‘I have been asked to make sure that the furnishings in the Library are clear…all the tables for the Library [are] to be placed in the rooms on the left-hand side of the department, using also the Rare Books room…’.
The opening was only one part of the day. Earlier, the Royal Party were to visit Derby, Chesterfield, Mansfield, the Council House and County Hall in Nottingham, and Trent Bridge Cricket Ground to watch the Test Match. R.J. Graham (Senior Assistant Registrar) wrote a lot of the correspondence that brought the day together. He was in contact with the Queen’s Assistant Private Secretary, and on 10th June wrote, ‘You may like to know that we are not making the title of ‘Queen’s Medical Centre’ public until after the event’. There was some debate over the chosen title for the hospital, with ‘The Queen Elizabeth Medical Centre’ and ‘The Queen’s Hospital and Medical Centre’ as other possibilities.
A dress rehearsal was held on 25th July. Everything was timed to the minute and when the day arrived hundreds lined the perimeter roads.
Her Majesty unveiled the plaque in the entrance hall at 5.45pm, declaring, ‘I am very pleased to declare this complex open and name it ‘Queen’s Medical Centre’.’
This is a post by Abigail Cobley, Document Production and Digitisation Assistant, who has been digitising some of the extensive collection of University photographs. The Health Records and the University Archives are available to view in the Reading Room on King’s Meadow Campus. For more information or to book an appointment, please contact us, follow us @mssUniNott, or read our newsletter Discover.