Leeds General Infirmary

Leeds General Infirmary, also known as the LGI, is a large teaching hospital based in the centre of Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, and is part of the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. Its previous name The General Infirmary at Leeds is still sometimes used.[1][2] It is the second largest hospital in Leeds after St James's University Hospital.

Leeds General Infirmary
Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
Old George Street Entrance
Shown in West Yorkshire
LocationLeeds, West Yorkshire, England
Care systemNHS
Hospital typeTeaching
Affiliated universityLeeds School of Medicine
Emergency departmentYes, and Major Trauma Centre
Founded1771 (current site opened 1869)
ListsHospitals in England


The first hospital known as Leeds Infirmary was opened in 1771 on what is now the site of the former Yorkshire Bank in Infirmary Street off City Square, Leeds. Notably, the founding five physicians at the infirmary were all graduates of the University of Edinburgh Medical School.[3] Construction of the current hospital on its new site in Great George Street started in 1863 to the designs of Sir George Gilbert Scott.[4][5]

Before drawing up the plans Gilbert Scott and the Infirmary's Chief Physician, Dr Charles Chadwick, visited many of the great contemporary hospitals of Europe. They were particularly impressed by hospitals based on the pavilion plan recommended by Miss Florence Nightingale, and adopted this for the new Infirmary. It featured the latest innovations, with plentiful baths and lavatories throughout, and a system of hydraulic hoists to reduce the labours of attendants and nurses.[6][7] However, the very high ceilings recommended by Nightingale meant that it could not be adequately heated, and doors to bathrooms were too narrow to admit a wheelchair.[6]

Though completed in 1868, it had no patients for the first year. Instead it actually housed a temporary loan exhibition (‘National Exhibition of Works of Art’), held to recover some of the £100,000 construction costs.[6][7] Unfortunately, after half a million visitors, the profit came to only £5.[6] It was officially opened on 19 May 1869 by Prince Albert, The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII).[6][7]

The building was extended to designs by George Corson between 1891 and 1892.[7] The Brotherton Wing, which now faces Millennium Square opened in 1940, the Martin and Wellcome Wings opened in the 1960s, the Worsley Building, which accommodates the Leeds Dental Institute and the Leeds School of Medicine, opened in 1979.[7] The Clarendon Wing opened in 1984, replacing the former Leeds Women's and Children's Hospital, and now houses the Leeds Children's Hospital.[8] The Jubilee Wing, named in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the National Health Service, which provides new Emergency Department services as well as housing regional cardiothoracic and neurosurgery facilities, opened in 1998. It is the main entrance and provides internal links to all other sections.[7][8]


Victorian buildings

Though the main entrance was on Thoresby Place, the south frontage on Great George Street provided the main decorative display, with plainer more functional facades elsewhere. This Victorian Gothic frontage is in red brick with stone dressings, red granite pillars, slate roof with pinnacles and Venetian Gothic windows.[5][9]

The original plan largely follows the layout of Lariboisière Hospital (1853) in France:[5] a 'pavilion' arrangement providing cross lighting and ventilation for the wards and a Winter garden in a central glazed courtyard.[10] The garden remains, but the glazing was removed in 1911.[5]

There are three wings North and South of this courtyard, the central South one being the George Street entrance, which has a porch in Porte-cochère style. Inside it has a reception hall with a baronial fireplace leading to a glazed roof corridor with columns featuring carvings of medicinal plants by William Brindley and a mosaic floor. This leads to a staircase with decorative ironwork leading up to a landing with stained glass windows. (As the site is on a slope, this is the level of the Thoresby Place entrance which is the primary floor for patients. The lower Great George Street level was used for administration and storerooms, the upper two floors for wards.) This opens onto a corridor going around the garden. In the corridor is a Potts clock and just along the corridor is a chapel dedicated to Saint Luke which opened in 1869.[5][9]

The three wings on the south are joined by single storey closed colonnades to make the South facade. A further, but open colonnade East and another wing is a faithful copy of the original style by George Corson.[5]

Interior of old building

Other Victorian buildings

On the West of Thoresby Place is the School of Medicine, an 1893 Grade II* listed building by W. H. Thorp in red brick, stone dressings and slate roofs in Perpendicular Revival style.[11] Some of the entrance hall is lined with Burmantofts Faience.[5]

In similar style is the 1897 Nurses' Home, also by Thorp, which is now north of the Brotherton Wing, and facing it on the entry road from Calverley Street.[5]

King Edward VII Memorial Extension

An appeal for the building of this extension was commenced in 1911. The project's general manager was F.J. Bray. Its treasurer was Charles Lupton who, along with his brothers - including Alderman F. M. Lupton and his daughter Olive and her husband Richard Noel Middleton - had promised to have made donations "up to the 15th of June, 1914". F. M. Lupton's niece, Miss Elinor G. Lupton (later Leeds Lady Mayoress), and his first cousin - Baroness von Schunck (née Kate Lupton) and her son-in-law Lord Airedale - also gave generous donations towards the extension scheme.[12][13]

Brotherton Wing

The Brotherton Wing on Calverley Street is in Portland Stone, in keeping with the Leeds Civic Hall on the other side of the road.[5][10] It was the gift of, and named after, Charles Frederick Ratcliffe Brotherton (18821949) and opened in 1940.[10] First planned in 1926, in a then modern style, it has semi-circular balconies at the South End, where it was intended that patients would rest and enjoy fresh air, which did not prove to be the case because of the rise of the motor car and other pollution.[10]

Clarendon Wing

This 1984 building is Leeds Children's Hospital. It is separate building of dark brick and grey slate with four storeys around a central courtyard. The Leeds Inner Ring Road runs in a tunnel underneath it.[5]

Jubilee Wing

The Jubilee Wing opened in 1998 at a cost of £92 million.[7][14] It is both a major expansion in the form of a north extension to the hospital and also provides links between the various buildings, with a new major entrance off Clarendon Way. It has an L-shaped plan of seven storeys in red brick and white metal cladding and barrel vaulted roofs. There is a large curved glazed entrance.[5] Outside, the practicalities of vehicle and pedestrian traffic are dealt with in Jubilee Square, landscaped in decorative brickwork by Tess Jaray with flower beds and sculptures by Tom Lomax.[14] It has a helicopter landing pad for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance Service.[15]

Famous and infamous people associated with the hospital

These are as follows:

  • Between 20 September 2006 and 28 September 2006 the Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond was treated at the hospital after suffering critical injuries as a result of a jet power car crash whilst filming at the airfield at ex-RAF Elvington near York.[16]
  • Former Countdown host Richard Whiteley was treated at the hospital and died on 26 June 2005 following heart problems two days after an unsuccessful operation for endocarditis.[17]
  • It has been alleged that Jimmy Savile sexually abused individuals at the hospital, as well as performing sex acts on dead bodies in the hospital mortuary.[18]
  • Labour Party MP Jo Cox died at the hospital on 16 June 2016 following an attack after meeting with constituents in the nearby village of Birstall, where she was shot and stabbed.[19]

See also


  1. "School of Radiology:". NHS Yorkshire and the Humber Postgraduate Deanery. 15 February 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2012. Radiology in The General Infirmary at Leeds (LGI)
  2. "Hospital Records Database". The National Archives. Retrieved 9 October 2012. Lists the name as "The General Infirmary at Leeds" for 1943-1974 and 1983-c.1990.
  3. Booth, Christopher Charles. "John Haygarth, FRS (1740-1827): A Physician of the Enlightenment, Volume 254". Retrieved 21 May 2015.
  4. "Leeds General Infirmary". Victorian Web. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
  5. Wrathmell, Susan (2005). Pevsner Architectural Guides: Leeds. Yale University Press. pp. 83–88. ISBN 0-300-10736-6.
  6. Mitchell, W. R. (2000). A History of Leeds. Chichester: Phillimore. pp. 114–117. ISBN 1 86077 130 0.
  7. "History". Leeds General Infirmary. Archived from the original on 15 May 2006. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
  8. "Leeds General Infirmary – 250 years of looking after city's patients". www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk. 31 October 2017. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  9. Historic England. "Leeds General Infirmary (1256242)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  10. Broadhead, Ivan (1990). Leeds. Otley: Smith Settle. p. 52. ISBN 1 870071 63 8.
  11. Historic England. "University of Leeds School of Medicine (1255833)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  12. Kaberry, Sir Donald. "The General Infirmary at Leeds: The second hundred years, 1869-1965". E. & S. Livingstone - 1966. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
  13. "King Edward VII Memorial Extension Scheme - Leeds General Infirmary". Leeds General Infirmary. 1911. p. 23. Retrieved 15 December 2018. Total promised up to the 15th June, 1914.
  14. Roberts, Dave (1 November 2011). "Guardian Angels". www.leedsartgallery.co.uk. Leeds Art Gallery. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  15. "Generous donation allows life-saving later air ambulance landing in Leeds". Yorkshire Evening Post. 10 November 2017. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
  16. "TV host seriously hurt in crash". BBC News. BBC. 21 September 2006. Retrieved 26 October 2007.
  17. "Presenter Richard Whiteley dies". BBC News. BBC. 26 June 2005. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  18. "Jimmy Savile 'performed sex acts' on dead bodies at Leeds General Infirmary mortuary". Western Daily Press. Western Daily Press. 24 June 2014. Retrieved 2 July 2014.
  19. "Jo Cox, a Labour MP, dies after being stabbed and shot in her constituency". The Economist. 17 June 2016. Retrieved 16 June 2016.

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