Title ID 447Collection ID340
TitlePrincess Alice Memorial Hospital
Date[ca. 1938]
CollectionEastbourne Hospital Film
Genre/TypeProfessionalIndependent Artist/Film-makerNon-fictionActuality/Factual
ThemePublic Services
KeywordsBuildings Children Health Services Hospitals Interiors
RegionalEast Sussex
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionNot known
Format16mm Black & White Silent
Duration36 min.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


This professional film with intertitles tours The Princess Alice Memorial Hospital in Eastbourne. It was made to demonstrate how donations were being utilized by the hospital and to encourage further giving.


The film opens with the words, "This film was made to bring the Hospital to you: to show you some of its special features and departments and why it needs your support." An exterior shot of the 120-bed Princess Alice Memorial Hospital and a portrait photograph of Princess Alice are followed by a photograph of the newly built hospital in 1883. A patient is stretchered out of a St John Ambulance and into the casualty department where a doctor assesses his condition. Patients sit in their beds in the male and female hospital wards - one male patient smokes a cigarette as the camera pans the homely room. Joints of meat are prepared in the kitchen. Shots of medical processes follow - patients are filmed having x-rays, blood transfusions, electrical treatments and broken legs plastered. A nurse demonstrates the facilities in the modern operating theatre - a high-voltage lamp, a flexible operating table and sterilization equipment are all on display. The nurses become the focus of attention - they are seen relaxing in their accommodation block (on Bedfordwell Road), studying anatomy in a group class and learning patient care from their superiors. The non-medical female staff are also filmed at work and rest whilst an all-male hospital committee have a board meeting. The two children's wards are occupied by youngsters playing games and undergoing bedrest. The words, "Remember: the doctors give their skill; the nurses devote themselves to the sick, but everyone can share in this great work" precede a staged scenario - the father of a working class family makes a donation to the family's Princess Alice Memorial Hospital household box when they sit down for dinner.


Princess Alice Memorial Hospital (1938)

Contextual information

The original twelve-bed Princess Alice Memorial Hospital was opened in 1883, four years after the death of Princess Alice (she had spent some of her last months in Eastbourne). The hospital was primarily funded through a public appeal and was designed in a cottage style by architect Mr T.C. Cutler. Before becoming part of the National Health Service in 1948, The Princess Alice Memorial Hospital was a general voluntary hospital and was therefore funded by subscriptions and local taxes. As with other voluntary hospitals, The Princess Alice Memorial Hospital had to supplement its income with fundraising activities. The film Princess Alice Memorial Hospital (ca. 1938) would have therefore been commissioned as a fundraising tool to be screened locally with the aim of encouraging donations. Unfortunately, the exact production context of the film is unknown.

Screen Archive South East holds a number of films which tour other hospitals in the region such as St Bartholomew's Hospital (ca. 1930), Ramsgate General Hospital: Hospital Appeal (1932?) and [Royal Surrey County Hospital Fundraising Film] (ca. 1936). The health resources in Woolwich available specifically for children are presented in Public Health Service (1937). The facilities provided by the National Health Service almost half a century later are filmed in The William Harvey Hospital (1979?).

Related titles

Related resources


Surtees, John. The Princess Alice Memorial Hospital Eastbourne and Other Eastbourne Hospitals. Eastbourne: Eastbourne Local History Society, 1994

This book provides a history of The Princess Alice Memorial Hospital. Copies are available at various East Sussex Libraries.


East Sussex Record Office collections at The Keep

The East Sussex Record Office (ESRO) now based at The Keep, houses an archive of minutes, annual reports, contract records, miscellaneous papers and patient records pertaining to The Princess Alice Memorial Hospital (1883-1952). The ESRO collection is searchable via The Keep website.

The Wellcome Trust Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine

"collections of books, manuscripts, pictures and films around the meaning and history of medicine, from the earliest times to the present day." The catalogue of the Welcome Trust Library is searchable online.