In 1858 a boiler exploded at the Snowden & Hopkin’s works, the blast hurled a number of men into the river and sixteen men were severely injured by flying debris and steam. The population of Middlesbrough at the time was 15,000 and the nearest hospital was at Newcastle, some of the badly injured were taken there but died on the way. Others were taken to their homes and lodgings, but two, who had no one to care for them, were put into a stable on Stockton Street.
Mr. Jordison, a local printer, was so distressed by the state of these men that he appealed for help to the head of the Christ Church Sisterhood at Coatham who then sent an associate member, Miss Jacques, to Middlesbrough.
Sister Mary Jacques had been trained at the Deaconess Institute at Kaiserworth in Westphalia, where Florence Nightingale had also received her training. She rented a cottage in Middlesbrough where injured men and the poor of the town could receive treatment.
Sister Mary eventually bought a house in Albert Road, where she lived with two other helpers and later, with financial help from Mr. del Strother and Mrs. Newcomen, bought two cottages in Dundas Mews and converted them into a Cottage hospital which contained eleven beds and a dispensary. The hospital opened in March 1859 and was the first cottage hospital in England.
In the first nine months fifty-five patients were treated, together with 490 outpatients. The women who staffed the hospital had all taken religious vows and went on to found a community known as the Community of the Holy Rood. This became the first religious community in Middlesbrough since the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539.
The Story of Cleveland. Minnie Horton 1979
The History of Middlesbrough. William Lillie 1968