Royal Newcastle Hospital (Seriously. Why isn't there a tv mini-series series about this place? Yet.)

Here in Newcastle, there used to be a hospital overlooking Newcastle Beach, right down by the shoreline.

Opened in 1817, the Royal Newcastle Hospital only closed in 2007, to make way for - you guessed it - apartments, and the hospital was moved away from the sea. Although I understand the economics and practicalities of it all, I still think it's a shame our public buildings and services so often get shunted away from the coast to allow for private development. I'm certain that the views and sounds of the ocean were wonderfully healing for patients and staff alike. Indeed, Dianne Taylor and Suzanne (who works here at The Lock-Up and whose knowledge of local history is vast) have both separately told me a wonderful story about the pleasurable proximity of the hospital to the beach.

Apparently, when it was quiet or they were on their breaks, the nurses and the doctors used to go down to the beach, to swim and surf and play. When they were needed back, a towel would be hung from a particular balcony that was visible from the sand, signalling for them to return.

Isn't that a great story! Isn't the idea that the medical staff went swimming and surfing when they could wonderful! And isn't it the perfect setting for a romance novel, with an illustration on the front of a busty, uniformed nurse leaning into a kiss from a strong-jawed doctor whose hair is dripping with salt-water? I think it would be marvellous. It would have to involve a destructive fire with mass rescues or, a disaster in the coal mines, or the steelworks, or, oh I know, the earthquake*! All it needs now is a catchy/cheesy title. Something like 'Salt water remedy' or 'Healing Horizons'. Hmmm...

*In 1989, Newcastle was hit by an earthquake with a Richter magnitude of 5.2. Thirteen people were killed, 160 injured, and many buildings were destroyed. I'd completely forgotten about this event, but obviously it is an important part of Newcastle history, so I have heard a lot about it since coming here.


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