1956 Hopefield Hospital Portrush

A few weeks ago, I cleaned up a couple of photos that mum had in one of her albums.  Below one of pictures, she had written in red ink, “Hopefield Hospital 1956.”  I had never heard of this hospital.  On further research, it turned out to be a small hospital just outside Portrush.

Mum’s family had lived in Portrush for a time (before moving to Moneymore).  The hospital would have been less than a mile from their residence. It seems most likely that she took these two photos herself.  In mid 1956, mum would have turned 17 years old.  I can only guess as to the reason she was at Hopefield.  By 1960, she was training to be a nurse in Belfast.  But what would she have been doing at this small hospital in 1956.  Was she sick, or perhaps she was visiting a friend who nursed there.  I suspect, given the nature of the two photos, that she had a friend who worked there.  The photos, taken from inside Hopefield and from the top floor, show a lineup of at least 12 nurses being presented to some undisclosed dignitary.  You can just about see the top of the man’s head in one photo.

It’s 64 years ago, so probably nearly all of these people will have passed on.  But I wonder if someone finding this web page, at some future date, will perhaps recognise their mother or grandmother.  Or perhaps you remember this hospital.  I would love to hear from you.

Eleanor Quinn at Hopefield Hospital in Portrush in 1956
Portrush Hopefield Hospital 1956


1956 Eleanor Quinn at Hopefield Hospital in Portrush
1956 Nurses at Hopefield Hospital in Portrush



Hopefield Hospital in Portrush
Hopefield Hospital in Portrush, 1960s, unknown source

After a little more research, I came across a wonderful website by Len Blackwood.  It’s well worth checking out.  Len was a patient there in 1956.  He says:  “Hopefield Cottage Hospital was situated on the edge of Portrush. It was one of the many rural hospitals that performed minor operations and provided for the chronically sick. It enabled local patients to remain close to their families and the latter to avoid having to travel to a distant county facility. In the years before and after the 1939-45 war, few local people had a car. It was to Hopefield that I was taken when I was six years old, in 1953.”

One can tell from the images, that the hospital is situated in a rural area.  Len says that the fields beside the hospital were part of a farm owned by the Caldwells.  These fields were what he looked upon during his short stay at Hopefield.  He adds: “When I was young, during the summer season a small plane used to land on those fields, and for a fee the pilot used to fly tourists over Portrush, the Skerries and along the north coast.”

Glenvale Horse Races, Portrush

Easter Tuesday each year, was always a public holiday in Northern Ireland, and those fields belonging to the Caldwells were used for the Glenvale point-to-point horse races.

Len recalls that the races, every Easter Tuesday, were “a grand occasion and people drove, cycled or walked from a long way to be there. The venue was only a mile from our farm, so I often went too. It was exhilarating to be close to the horses as they galloped by, jumping the hurdles and hedges.

“Access to the Glenvale races was along a lane beside John Rainey’s house and past Caldwell´s farm. The entrance to the lane was off the Coleraine Road, opposite to the road that led into Glenmanus. In those days Glenmanus village was on the edge of Portrush and on the road to Coleraine were just fields and the occasional house and farm buildings.”

I had a look across old 1956 newspapers and came up with an advertisement and the subsequent race results for the Glenvale Point to Point races in 1956.


Point-to-Point Races

will be held at


On Easter Tuesday,

APRIL 3rd, 1956.

1st Race at 2.30 p.m.

Tea Tent on Course

Londonderry Sentinel, 31st March 1956


Local media subsequently reported that “there was a large attendance at the annual point-to-point races promoted by the Route Hunt Club at Glenvale, Portrush, yesterday.”

Three riders were hurt at that 1956 Easter Tuesday point-to-point meeting in Portrush.

Mr. S. Patton, who had won the third race on a horse called Fair Gale, fell in the fourth race and suffered a broken collar bone.

Two other riders in the very same race were also injured, namely Mr. M. Lafferty, of Strabane and Mr. J. Blaney. Both men were admitted to hospital (presumably the nearby Hopefield Cottage Hospital).

The results of the five races were as follows:

Hunt Cup: 1) Mr. R. Mairs’ Mountain Foot II (owner); 2) Mrs. S. Henry’s Je Reviens (ridden by Mr. K. Wood); 3) Mr. H. Dick’s All Medals (ridden by Mr. J. Agnew). Winner won by three lengths. 3 horses ran.

Second Race: 1) Mr. J. Grieves’ Whiteway’s Pride (ridden by Mr. F. Fitzsimmons); 2) Mrs. A. McClelland’s Solar Lady (ridden by Mr. G. Dunwoody); and 3) Mr. J. Bamber’s Notsobad (ridden by Dr. M. Bamber). Winner won by three lengths. 5 horses ran.

Portrush Chase: 1) Miss M. Lawson’s Fair Gale (ridden by Mr. S. Patton); 2) Mr. H. Porter’s Delaware (ridden by Mr. G. Taylor); 3) Mr. W. Boomer’s Belaye II (ridden by Mr. W. E. Rooney). Winner won by three lengths. 4 horses ran.

Portstewart Chase: 1) Mr. R. Kelsey’s Bannon Lass (ridden by Mr. W. E. Rooney). 1: Mr. T. Walls’ Dery Castle (ridden by the owner); 3) Mr. I. Sherrard’s Your More (ridden by Mr. M. Bryson).  Winner won by three lengths. 16 horses ran.

Farmers’ Maiden Chase: 1) Mr. C Hayes’ Fethernagh (ridden by the owner); 2) Mr. W. Coulter’s Lizzie Lasher (ridden by Mr. M. Bryson); 3) Mr. W. Esler’s Mary Mangan (ridden by the owner). Winner won by three lengths. 12 horses ran.




"I have spread my dreams beneath your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

7 thoughts on “1956 Hopefield Hospital Portrush

  1. Very interesting! It is a pity that all over the world the small, rural hospitals are being closed. For the benefit of large private hospital groups…

  2. I agree, Antje.

    Indeed, it is undemocratic in my opinion, given that our populations have never voted for the sell-off privatisation of our public services.

    It’s a scandal (just one among many).

  3. yes, for true, you want to be hospitalised in your community with your own people around you, that you know and that you understand

    1. are they quietly privatising the health service in Holland too, Monique?

      I find it despicable, the privatisation (without any political mandate) of health and other services, across the western world.

  4. I was a patient in the Hopefield hospital in 1957, undergoing an operation for a ‘lazy’ eye.

    I was terrified, I had never been as far as Belfast or stayed away from home overnight. The fact that my family and friends could visit me every day made the whole ordeal much less traumatic.

    Very few people had access to private transport back then, but even today travelling to these huge hospitals can be difficult.

    In 2020 I was a patient in Stoke Mandeville hospital and it was a very different experience to Hopefield – not just because of my age! The place is like a small town and ‘the powers that be’ should realize that as people age, some are unable to continue driving.

    Keep small cottage hospitals open, they play vital role in our communities.

    1. Hello Margaret, welcome to One Irish Rover. Thank you for the comment.

      Absolutely agree, keep small cottage hospitals open. They are vital to local communities. The NHS is a crucial part of the fabric of our society. It has to be accessible at a local level.

      I trust that the operations in 1957 (lazy eye) and the one last year in Stoke Mandeville, went well.

      It is terrifying going to big Orwellian type hospitals in faraway places, especially as a child. I can understand how terrified you must have been. I was terrified when spending several weeks in the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children, in the 1970s. The nurses were great, but the size and anonymity of such big faceless institutions was terrifying….not to mention the tests and equipment.

  5. Hi, I’m reading this as I was looking for a hospital I had my appendix taken out just before my 5th birthday in 1956. I’m sure looking at the photos, that Hopefield could be it.

    I was on holiday in Portrush, with my grandmother, aunt and two cousins, when I became unwell. We had travelled from Glasgow.

    I remember being in a room on a corner which overlooked beautiful gardens. I also remember going into the men’s ward and chatting with a young man, called Rodney, who had part of his leg removed.

    It would be amazing to hear anything about him. The only other thing I remember him saying was his father was a local banker.

Leave a Reply

You have to agree to the comment policy.


Recent Posts

link to Cutting Turf

Cutting Turf

I haven't been around much of late.  It's nice to get back online and have a chance to post some new material. By the way, I note there appears to have been an issue, during the past month, for...



Email Address


error: Alert: Content is protected !!