The Manchester Royal Infirmary was very overcrowded in the late 1800s and Barnes Hospital was built as a convalescent home as it was felt that somewhere away from the city would be beneficial. A local businessman, Mr. Robert Barnes, told the hospital board that he would pay for it.
The 46-acre site was bought from the Trustees of Sir L Bamford Hesket, with £26,000 from Mr. Barnes. The building was constructed in 1874 in Gothic Revival style, having been designed by Thomas Clay and Sons of Audenshaw. More endowments were received which covered the running costs of the hospital including one started by Mr. Humphrey Nicols of £15,000.
Mt Barnes trained for the law but, with his brother Thomas, started a business as spinners and manufacturers in Jackson Street, Manchester where they amassed a fortune. Mr. Barnes moved south when he retired but missed Manchester and so returned. He was elected as a Councillor and was Mayor in 1851 and 1852.
There was a Chapel built on the site and a chaplain used to visit each week. The patients were free to walk in the grounds and could walk through to Cheadle to shop if they wished. Concerts were also put on every week.
When the Health Service began in 1948, the building was used mainly for orthopaedic, geriatric and stroke patients.
The hospital was originally constructed in a rural setting, it is now surrounded by roads. The main building is Grade II listed and lies on green belt land.
The hospital closed in 1999 and although the building was promptly listed, it has become derelict. It remains an easily identifiable for passers-by, sitting on a mount overlooking the surrounding roads. It is recognisable for its eerie and sombre Gothic aesthetic reminiscent of a monastery.
The hospital closed in 1999 and has since been vandalised. The building was Grade 2 Listed in 2000 but is now in bad condition.
If you intend to do this detour past the Old Mill, take a side trip down Wilmslow Road first to look at the site of the Old Rectory.
This detour takes you off pavements but if the weather is fine, go straight ahead from the church towards Gatley, passing the Weavers on your left, to Milton Crescent. Turn left at the end of Milton Crescent and immediately left again onto a path leading into woods alongside the Micker Brook. Take either left or right path as they both join back together further ahead and continue ahead to Wilmslow Road.