A NEW exhibition on a former Red Cross hospital in Chippenham is set to open in November, 100 years to the day of the first wounded soldier being admitted.

Chippenham Museum and Heritage Centre has received £8,000 of heritage lottery funding to stage a major exhibition commemorating the town’s First World War hospital which was set up in the town’s Neeld and Town Halls.

Between 1915 and April 1919, the hospital treated 1,872 patients. Only two military deaths were recorded, both from pneumonia, and four nurses died during the course of service.

The temporary wartime hospital was named Unity, which was ward housed alongside the town hall, and Loyalty in the Neeld, to mark the town’s motto on its shield and came to symbolise Chippenham’s efforts in the Great War.

Cllr Sylvia Gibson, chairman of the town council’s amenities, culture and leisure committee, said: “We are delighted to have secured this lottery funding for this important exhibition. A huge amount of work has already gone in to collating stories and memorabilia from the hospital.

“There are some fascinating and poignant stories that are coming to light about our town. We hope today’s residents will come and see the exhibition and help us commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Unity and Loyalty hospital that played such as important war-time role in the town.”

The exhibition, which runs until the end of April next year, explores how the townspeople spontaneously came together and acted to support the hospital and the compassion shown to injured soldiers, many from across the globe.

Staged in the Yelde Hall, where displays and exhibits will recreate the Unity and Loyalty hospital, it will focus on the civilian women and men who worked, volunteered and helped at the hospital.

The Heritage Lottery Fund grant will cover the cost of staging the exhibition, research and displays.

Museum curator Melissa Barnett said the team had been researching the exhibition for the past three years.

She said: “There have been many stories about the soldiers who fought but there has never been an exhibition on this hospital and its stories before.

“It will commemorate and honour all those civilians who came together to support the hospital and care for injured soldiers and patients during World War I. We will be focusing on the women’s lives and how the war shaped their day to day existence.

“We will also be exploring a rarely researched angle of the non-combatant men, such as ambulance drivers, caretakers and teenaged volunteers.”