For many years the archives were scattered
both inside and outside the hospital. Thanks to a
few staff associated with the hospitals
Library, they were gradually brought together and
in 1983 they were catalogued by Brenda Parry-Jones
of Oxford. This catalogue is on hand-written
cards, with a hand-written index system. Since
then many items have been added to the collection
without the catalogue being updated. Because of
developments at the hospital, the archives room
has changed location five times in the last
thirty years. The present archives room is in the
basement of the 1839 hospital building.
Conditions are not ideal, but the room is secure,
with good shelving protected by plastic sheeting,
and tables and chairs for researchers. The
Archives Room is accepted as adequate by the
In the year 2000, the Royal Berkshire and
Battle Hospitals NHS Trust granted custody of the
archives to the Berkshire Medical Heritage Centre.
The Heritage Centre is independent of, but
closely associated with the NHS Trust. It has a
Museum at the hospital, close to the Archives
Room. I am Chairman and Dr Tim Smith is Honorary
Secretary of the Heritage Centre, and we are
currently restoring order to the arrangement of
the archives, which were disrupted in the last
move, and cataloguing the most important of the
newer items. We are seeking funds to get the
archives computer-catalogued, to have fungus-affected
volumes decontaminated and for conservation work.
The archives relate mainly to the RBH, from
its foundation: they include bound volumes of the
annual reports and the minutes of the most
important committees. There are many bound
volumes recording staff and patients -inpatients,
outpatients, operating theatre registers etc.
Miscellaneous deeds, documents and photographs
are stored in cardboard boxes.
In addition there are scattered, very
incomplete records from
Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Joint
Henley and District War Memorial Hospital
Oxford Eye Infirmary (a stray
Annual Report 1910);
Reading Union Workhouse (later Battle
Reading Corporation Isolation Hospital,
Bridge Street, 1905;
Redlands War Hospital, 1915-18;
Smith Isolation Hospital 1891-1950;
South Chilterns Hospital Board 1928-46;
Wallingford and Crowmarsh Joint Hospital
Wallingford and Bullingdon Joint Hospital
Wallingford Cottage Hospital 1880-88;
Wallingford and District Hospital 1937-48;
Wallingford Isolation Hospital 1906-48.
Tracing staff and patients
From a family historians viewpoint,
probably the most significant archives relate to
staff and patients. It is most important to
understand the constraints in accessing this
information. Firstly, many of the records are of
a highly sensitive nature. Casual browsing cannot
be permitted. The Archives Room is locked and
access is only possible for bona-fide researchers
under supervision. Records over 100 years old may
be fully studied. For those genuinely researching
a family history, supervised, limited access may
be offered to the more recent records.
Photocopying of these is not possible. Access
cannot be permitted to the fungally infected
records until the problem is solved. Access to
damaged items may be withheld until conservation
treatment has been carried out.
Main sources of information on patients
RBH patients (sadly, we have no record of
patients from Battle or any of the other
hospitals, except Wallingford Isolation Hospital):
1839-1844. RB 11. In Patients & Out
1839-1846. RB 26. Out Patients
1839-1854, 1863-1943, (1950). RB24. Vols c,
d, e,f, g, dd, ee, 1950 isolated (Fungus)
1849-1953. RB 25. In Patients & Out
Patients. Alphabetical. Names only. Gaps. Vols
for 1945, 46, 49, 51, 52, 53 isolated
1925-1984. RB 31. Anaesthetics journal general
1925-1932. RB 5. X-Ray journal
1929-1969. RB 32. Anaesthetics journal ENT
theatre. Vols a, b, c, d, e, f isolated
1927-1930. RB 30. Clinical notes. Mr Powell
1930-1939. RB 27. Out Patients. Vol b
1932-1938. RB 16. Casualty patients. Some
1936-1944. RB 44. Patient services ledger
1937-1954. RB 14. Victoria Ward register
1938-1943. RB 29. Weekly discharge of
inpatients. Vol a isolated
1942-1969. RB 15. Anaesthetics journal Gynae
1950-1970. RB 23. ENT outpatients. Oct 1953-Apr
1970 - OP operations
1958-1960. RB 46. Benyon Ward register
Operating Theatre Records of Cases
Orthopaedic Theatre Recovery Room Casebooks:
Theatres 3 & 4. June 1980-Nov 1981. 2
Theatre 3. Oct 1981-June 1990. 4 bound volumes
Theatre 4. Oct 1981-June 1990. 15 bound
Minor Theatre Dec 1984-June 1990. 7 bound
Theatre not specified. March 1983-June 1992.
36 bound volumes
Obstetric (Maternity) Theatre. March 1967-March
1997. 8 bound volumes
Gynaecology (Nuffield Theatre and Maternity
Theatre). Sep 1969-Nov 1996. 31 bound volumes. ?
Eye Theatre Register
Jan 1955-July 1973. 5 volumes
July 1975-May 1981.3 volumes
General Theatre Anaesthetics Journal (includes
patient name, surgeon and operation.
These are catalogued under RB 31a- zzzz+. Last
vols not catalogued. 1925-June 1984 consecutive
General Theatre Recovery Room Day Cases
April 1970-Dec 1980. One volume, shelved after
the anaesthetics journals. These do not correlate
with the operations in the anaesthetics journal.
(The day cases were recorded separately.)
Main Sources of Information on Staff
Records of Nurses:
Register of Nurses 1899-1943. Six volumes.
Mixture of trained and untrained nurses
Register of Student Nurses 1938-1962. 4
Register of Trained Nurses 1948-1967. 2
Register of Private Nurses 1886-1917. 1 volume.
1920-1939. 1 volume
Register of Nurses Blagrave Branch 1930-1966.
2 volumes. Mixture of trained and untrained
Register of Nurses 1923-1930. 1 volume. Needs
Register of Nurses 1928-1933. 1 volume. Mostly
Register of part-time nursing staff, SENS and
auxiliaries 1952-1968. 2 volumes
List of Nursing Finalists. 1955-1959. 1 volume
Uniform book. 1913-1941. 1 volume. Issue of
uniforms to named nurses
House Committee Weekly Reports 1944-1972. 16
vols. Lacks 1964
Reports on nursing staff:
Nursing sub-committee minutes 1946-1948. 1
Candidates for nurse training 1955-1968. 1
Nursing report book Nuffield 1 Ward (female
surgical) Jan-Feb 1959. Catalogued as RB/45
Individual Nurses. A few files and named
photographs of individual nurses and midwives.
Numerous unidentified group photographs are
stored in boxes
Records of Non-nursing Staff
Personal Files of Medical, Administrative,
Technical and Domestic Staff 1913-1950s. 5 metal
Records of a variety of staff 1940s-1950s. 4
small bound volumes
Records of Catering, Domestic and Laundry
Staff 1940s-1950s. One large bound volume (These
5 vols are catalogued as RB Add? a-e)
Salary and Wages file 1944-1946. Brown paper
wrap. Catalogued as RB/113 (Chronological No 166)
Wallingford Isolation Hospital (These are
Admission registers 1906-1948. (HO 287 a&b).
Officers salaries ledgers 1927-1948. (HO
Bona-fide enquiries should be directed to the
Trust Librarian, Post Graduate Centre, Royal
Berkshire Hospital, RG1 5AN (tel 0118 987 7849).
Supervised access can be provided by appointment,
normally on Monday mornings.
A database maintained by the Wellcome Trust
and the Public Record Office provides information
on the existence and location of the records of
hospitals in the U.K. Currently over 2,800
entries can be found in the database at hospitalrecords.pro.gov.uk/.
Dr Barr was a consultant anaesthetist to
the Reading Group of Hospitals from 1973 to 1996.
He is the founding Chairman of the Berkshire
Medical Heritage Centre. He is co-author of
The Royal Berkshire Hospital 1839-1989
and co-compiler of Care & Compassion:
Old Prints and Photographs of Hospitals and
Nurses in Berkshire and South Oxfordshire.