St Ives residents raise £1m to save community hospital closed by NHS


Residents of a Cornish harbour town have raised £1m to save their beloved community hospital three years after it was closed by the NHS, raising fears it would be turned into holiday flats.

The former Edward Hain Memorial hospital in St Ives, which was founded more than a century ago by a local shipping family, is to be turned into a new hub for health and wellness.

It will provide accessible – and free wherever possible – services to residents of the town and west Cornwall.

Lynne Isaacs, chair of the Edward Hain Centre, said: “The loss of our hospital was devastating. We’re thrilled that we can bring much-needed health services back to the town.”

The memorial hospital was founded by Sir Edward and Lady Catherine Hain in memory of their son, Edward “Teddy” Hain, killed by shellfire at Gallipoli in November 1915, the morning he was due to return home.

Put into trust for the benefit of St Ives, the hospital was taken over in 1948 by the newly formed NHS. In 2016, the hospitals closed its in-bed wards.

Despite a series of protests by the community, including an eye-catching demonstration involving 600 people in dressing gowns, complete closure came in 2020 and the NHS announced its plans to sell the building. Such is the demand for holiday homes in St Ives that the town council and residents worried it would be turned into apartments.

But the hospital’s League of Friends, who had raised funds for it since the 1960s, decided to try to buy it. Supported by local businesses and the community, fundraising events including music gigs, balls, coffee mornings, afternoon tea and golf competitions were held.

Among the contributors was 92-year-old Enid Deeble, who was a nurse at the hospital in the 1950s and who took part in a sponsored walk to help save the building.

The Liberal Democrat Cornwall councillor and health campaigner Andrew George described the friends as “magnificent”. However he accused the Tories of closing it down. “As the hospital was a gift to the community most locals don’t understand why they are obliged to pay through the nose to keep it as a community asset.”

The fundraising will continue to pay off a £400,000 mortgage that helped reach the target and more renovations and upgrades are needed.

Teddy Hain was the son of politician Sir Edward Hain. The family ran the Edward Hain Steamship Company, which provided work for generations of St Ives families.

The centre will celebrate its launch with an open weekend on 9 and 10 September.