The History of BMI Thornbury Hospital, Sheffield

Frederick MappinFrederick MappinBMI Thornbury hospital has an incredibly interesting history behind it. Find out more about how the beautiful building has evolved since it was the residence of Frederick Thorpe Mappin. 

Thornbury building was originally the residence of Frederick Thorpe Mappin M.P. formerly a member of the cutlery firm of Mappin Brothers. He later acquired the old established business of Thomas Turton & Sons and became a great benefactor of the city. 

In 1854, he was elected as the MP for St Peters Ward, a seat which he held for three years. He built Thornbury in 1865 and the Sheffield and Rotheram Independent newspaper carried an article at the time in which it said, 'the entrance hall with its marble screen, balustrade and staircase forms a noteworthy future. 

The NHS acquired the house and its 6.5 acres for use as the Thornbury annex to the children's hospital. Many extensions were added over the years, which weren't always in keeping with the architectural style of the original work. The property was sold in 1985 and lay vacant for some years during which it suffered from decay and vandalism. 

AMI Healthcare (the previous owner of BMI Healthcare) purchased the property on 31st October 1989 for a long awaited conversion to a 60 bed hospital. During November and December, 1989, design layouts were produced, planning consents confirmed, outbuildings demolished and a main contractor and architect appointed. A site start was confirmed for the 7th January 1990 with a target of completion before the end of January 1991 - a tight schedule by most standards. 

Thornbury hospital roofless during restorationThornbury during restoration The city planners insisted on a number of conditions:

  • The old house to be retained and renovated 
  • The new wing to be architecturally sympathetic 
  • The overall building 'footprint; to be restricted to their pre-determined shape and size
  • The grounds to remain undeveloped with no car parking beyond the building zone

This created a design challenge in fitting all necessary facilities within the footprint - the reverse of AMI's normal practice. The old house contained dry rot, the extent of which had not witnessed before and this led to the university taking photographs and samples for posterity. 

During ground works, an unknown cellar was discovered, which necessitated a rapid redesign of foundations. In February 1990, gales battered the old house - now just a roofless shell. 

In the summer, it was decided to open the hospital to patients from the 7th January 1991, which required a rescheduling of the handover programme, phasing the completion of one ward ahead of the other and arranging commissioning and statutory licences prior to and during the Christmas period. 

The hospital admitted its first patient on Sunday 6th January 1991 - 364 days from the site commencement and undertook its first open heart operation on Monday 7th January 1991. 

BMI Thornbury Hospital through the years

  • Staircase before and after

    The hospital staircase during and after the renovation

  • Bedroom before and after

    A standard bedroom in 1991 and one of our bedrooms, now

  • Ward reception before and now

    A ward reception during the nineties and one of our receptions, now

  • Sarah Duchess of York opening BMI Thornbury hospital

    Sarah, Duchess of York opening BMI Thornbury Hospital in 1991

  • First open heart surgery

    Celebrating the hospital's first open heart operation on in 1991

  • Thornbury now

    BMI Thornbury Hospital now in 2017