Back in time – Florence Nightingale connection to The Links development

March 29, 2019

Working to breathe new life into an old, neglected building is an exciting journey into the past, discovering its history and unearthing long hidden features and treasures.

Our development The Links, in Porthcawl, is a case in point having formerly been a Victorian convalescent hospital with links to Florence Nightingale.

The Links will see a derelict Grade II listed building converted into new homes but its original function was as The Rest – a convalescent hospital for the area’s industrial workers and miners.

‘The Rest’ was the idea of local doctor James Lewis whose wife Charlotte wrote to Florence Nightingale for advice on establishing a purpose-built convalescent facility.

Florence Nightingale was an advocate of such places which were situated away from polluted cities on the coast or in the countryside where “healthy air” aided patient recovery.

James Lewis had already established a convalescent hospital in three cottages in Porthcawl but demand was such that he set about raising funds from local businesses and landowners for a bigger, purpose-built facility.

A prominent piece of land overlooking Rest Bay was offered by a local landowner which was to become the site of the building that is known and loved today.

The first block opened its doors in 1878, with the building’s design allowing for a phased development. Subsequent wings were added so that by the time it was finished in 1909 it could accommodate men, women and children.

Development work by Acorn Property Group has uncovered original dedication plaques and other artefacts which have been donated to the Porthcawl Museum.

During World War I The Rest was used by St John’s Ambulance Association as an Auxiliary War Hospital with almost 2,500 soldiers receiving treatment. And again, during World War II it was used to treat servicemen before reverting back to its original use in 1946.

Initial development work by Acorn involved stripping away more recent additions, revealing the original structure and features such as doorways, arches, exposed beams and tiling.

Many of these are being incorporated into the design of the new homes to preserve the memory of this important historic building as it is given a new lease of life.

Find out more about the homes by visiting the Marketing Suite, open daily 10am – 5pm.


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